To the Bitcoin class of 2020

To the Bitcoin class of 2020, on this important day, I salute you!

This week you graduated from one of the toughest learning experiences of your life – be proud of that.

When you joined Bitcoin in the summer of 2017 most of you were green. Some thought Bitcoin was magical internet money, some hoped it would make you rich, and some of you, a very few, had at least heard of a little coin with a Shiba Inu as a logo. The barriers of entry to Bitcoin were low, and remain so for good reason, everyone is welcome. Yet the learning curve is steep, and you’re living proof of that.

After three tedious years you’re graduating from Bitcoin school a different person than than the one that entered. You’ve suffered and struggled, and are now being let out into the world to enjoy the spoils you deserve. But before we look ahead, let us take a look back at what you have achieved.

This class started at the end of a bloody civil war that ended on this day in 2017. An important victory was won for the decentralization of Bitcoin against coordinated forces with big pockets. But most of you had no awareness of that and it was simply the beginning of the the hype phase for you – Bitcoin knew only one way: up! You thought that’s just how this is, a new, digital world, untied from the burdens of the physical realm, making you rich beyond your wildest dreams – it wasn’t, it didn’t.

Advice given by parents was not heeded, you didn’t need to understand to make a profit, you’d follow the whisperers on Twitter and they’d guide your way. Yet, life doesn’t work that way. The whisperers turned out to be no better than the pied-piper of Hamelin. They told you that Bitcoin was old and slow and had too high fees. They told you of newer, faster, better networks. Ethereum and Thor would allow scripting on the blockchain, whatever that meant. Ripple would build an international remittance system, also faster and better than today’s, and the banks would love it. Every day another coin made the headlines, ICO’s left, right and center and each again better than the other. Bitcoin was legacy, ERC-20 the future. Everything on the blockchain, everything on Ethereum, everyone would be rich.

On top of that there were remnants of war in Bitcoin but you still couldn’t make sense of it. Who’s on what side? What was it even about? Why did it even matter? It’s just legacy tech, kept around for sentimental reasons. Who cares whether it’s BTC or BCH or later BSV if it’s obsolete anyway.

But then, all of sudden, as fast as it began for you, it was all over. Everyone was getting rich one moment and then everyone was getting poor, including you. This is were it ended for a lot of your fellows, the parties were over, the money was gone, the yachts were taken back by Wall Street.

It was time to reassess where it all went wrong. Luckily, you had discovered the old writings from the Satoshi Nakamoto Institute and Michael Goldstein had told you in no unclear way that everyone’s a scammer. It was a lesson to be learnt, an expensive one, but necessary. You felt duped, dumb for falling for narrative instead of substance but you sensed a lifeline. Some of you sold your Tokens for Sats, some kept around a few bags because another rally might redeem them. Not everyone made it through to today, think of your fallen friends but don’t forget why you succeeded where they failed.

Yet, the bear market of 2018 was brutal, your studies so far came at a high cost. You had to go back to making a living, like your parents did. Some of you surely got closer to your parents than ever before, living in their basement and all that.

You spent long nights reading forum posts by people way older, way smarter than you, talking about technologies you couldn’t comprehend. Cypherpunks and gold bugs, it all didn’t make sense.

Why is the old world order suddenly at stake? Why do you need to rid yourselves from the shackles of the federal reserve? Why would the government not have your best interest at heart? But on your way to work, in your old Toyota Corolla, you found support. You’d listen to Marty and Matt, guys like you that rambled over Whiskey and told you Tales from the Crypt, your personal support group, they told it like it is.

Things started to fall into place and you felt the excitement come back. Maybe there is something to this old tech after all. And then, in a two punch like you’ve only ever seen Tyson deliver, it hit you. In March ’18 a guy you’d never heard of before, Vijay Boyapati, published an article that made it all click, “The Bullish Case for Bitcoin”.

Bitcoin is like Gold!
But on the internet!
It’s Digital Gold!

That was something you could understand, Gold is worth something because it is scarce. And Bitcoin has the same characteristics but is even better because it’s more difficult to confiscate – boom!

And then, in April, the second punch, stronger, without mercy, Saifedean Ammous dropped The Bitcoin Standard. It was over for you, there was no going back now, you felt converted, it was weird and beautiful at once. How can simple truths be so difficult to uncover, you wondered. But now you saw and you could not unsee.

Over the year there’d be more speakers expanding your horizon to different topics. You couldn’t watch enough of Andreas’ videos and discovered Austrian Economics and Libertarianism from Stephan Livera. You’d even read up on Mises and Rothbard but preferred Hayek, who’s a bit more accessible. On this one there’s no shame, you’ve already reached an understanding of economics far above most mainstream pundits, let alone a certain New York Times quacker.

And when you had studied enough, read enough, you started to tinker. Pierre Rochard helped you launch your first node while Rodolfo Novak made sure your few Sats were stored safely. The marvel that are OpenDimes still fascinates you to this day. But there was more to discover, it was time to meddle with a Raspberry Pi and for the first time sync the full Bitcoin blockchain. You were now able to validate your own transactions and a sense of freedom, of independence, overcame you – something changed and it felt good.

1.5 years into your journey had grown, your old friends and family didn’t recognize you anymore. They couldn’t follow your thinking and frankly, they became likely a bit worried too – people that step out of line scare others. You couldn’t understand this because you now knew something was wrong in the world and you had an idea how to fix it. You wished they’d understand but you knew they’d need to find out at their own time. Marty had taught you well, you planned to stay humble and stack Sats and help everyone who really wanted to know.

So what was next? Where could Bitcoin go from here? In March 2019 you learned what might lie ahead, when the then unknown Nym PlanB released his Bitcoin Stock-to-flow model. An eye-opener in terms of Bitcoin valuation models and a guideline as to how Bitcoin works in predictable regularity of four-year rhythms. How beautifully it mixed with what Saif taught you a year ago, was baffling, so much more to learn, ever deeper the rabbit hole goes. You loved the model, everyone loved it, but only time will prove it – or not. For the remainder of 2019 you dug in further, confident in having discovered basic truths but still in doubt whether this truth will ever come to be in a world pretty much ignorant of it.

You started to follow Bitcoin Core changes on GitHub, enjoyed seeing the constant hashrate updates on Clark Moody’s Bitcoin dashboard and marveled how a single person could’ve created a thing of beauty like the difficulty adjustment. Tuur Demeester provided further insights into the history of money and markets with “The Bitcoin Reformation” and Robert Breedlove deepened your understanding of money and time.

When 2020 rolled around you were ready, looking forward to your first halving. The halving, this incredible instrument reducing Bitcoin’s block subsidy by half every 210,000 blocks. But we all know how 2020 turned out to be and all and everyone got blindsided by the pandemic. You had to put your studies aside to care for loved ones but the halving happened nonetheless on 11th of May, 2020 – as much an event as it was a non-event, predictable yet exciting.

So now we’re here, in the midst of 2020, on the day of UASF, the day SegWit got activated and now you know what that meant. Three years after you began your studies, you are graduating and you deserve it, you made it.

It wasn’t easy and it isn’t supposed to be easy, your parents knew that, your grandparents knew that, you know that now. Don’t neglect that struggle, you have taken a long way, learned a lot, made a lot of mistakes but now you’re here and you understand what Bitcoin is. And as with Bitcoin itself, that is enough.

Take pride in what you went through and derive strength from it.

Because as much as I’d like to tell you what the future holds, and I know I promised to do so, I cannot, nor can anyone else. You know this now too, you know you shouldn’t listen to anyone blindly. You can hope to trust, but always verify. Find your own truth and walk with it. Have conviction in what you believe but be able to adapt, “strong opinions loosely held” can get you a good way. And if ever in doubt, think of the few simple truths you know for sure.

Bitcoin will be there, chugging along, tick tock, like clockwork, tick tock tick tock, block by block.
Bitcoin is open, it is for everyone to join and make of it as they wish.
And now, you, and the class of 2020, are part of Bitcoin and Bitcoin of you! You’ve earned it, revel in it – salute!

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Bitcoin Grants Tracker – One week later

screenshot of the Bitcoin Grants Tracker
Bitcoin is open-source and open-source funding is hard. The Bitcoin community needs to work together to make funding Bitcoin development better.

One week ago I announced the release of my Bitcoin Grants Tracker and posted a short thread on Twitter.
I did so out of personal interest in Bitcoin, its development process and how development is being funded.
I didn’t expect the tracker to attract much attention but wanted to share it with the Bitcoin community in case others were interested in this too.
The amount of feedback I’ve received ― on Twitter, via email and even by Marty on the Sat Standard ‒ makes it obvious that Bitcoiners are seeking more transparency and insights into the Bitcoin funding process.

What can we do?

There are many things that could be done but it is important to spend our time on things that can have an impact.
In my opinion, the following three things need to be focused on if we want Bitcoin to succeed in the long run:

  1. Better and easier ways to fund developers and projects
  2. More organizations and companies funding Bitcoin development
  3. More Bitcoin developers

These are broad goals and I’ll break them down into more granular goals and actionable tasks in upcoming posts.
For now I’ll add another table to the tracker, focusing on all the great Bitcoin companies employing developers to work on Bitcoin Core, Lightning etc. – Blockstream, Chaincode and Lightning Labs come to mind.
I also plan to write more about the funding process in general, dive into some statistics on grants distribution and discuss how interested developers can get their start into Bitcoin.

Education is key, and helping potential funders and developers navigate their way through this beautiful maze that is Bitcoin is something I’ll gladly try to do. My humble page might not be able do too much about it but I’ll try to move the needle a little bit.

If you have any other ideas of what can be done to move the needle, please reach out via DM and email. There are many Bitcoiners out there willing to help, we just need to reach out.

Onward and upwards!