Aug 11, 2022Liked by Niko Jilch ⚡️

I didn't start off as a maximalist. I was interested in ethereum, thought iota sounded pretty cool, maybe ripple would go somewhere, etc. I still remember the exact moment I became a bitcoin maximalist; i was sitting on the toilet thinking about the precise mechanism bitcoin's proof of work algorithm uses, and realized that even slight changes break it.

During the 2017 ICO boom i thought about making my own coin. "Proof of work is wasteful", i mimicked other people saying. It sounded right. Bunch of coal being burned to generate random numbers? Isn't there something useful we can do instead? I thought i knew just what would work.

I was long obsessed with the P vs NP problem (I have a tattoo, even) and thought that it might be doable for a blockchain to generate solutions to NP complete problems as proof of work. Storing the solutions to the problems on chain would then lead to an ever-growing database of solutions to NP complete problems. Wouldn't that be amazing? Any time someone needs a solution to one of these problems, they could first look up on the chain and see if a solution already exists.

But i wanted to make sure i wasn't selling people on something i couldn't deliver. So I wanted to make sure this thing could actually work. I remember the precise moment i figured out it couldn't, i was sitting on the toilet thinking about _why_ bitcoin is setup the way it is, and what kinds of strategies bad actor could pull off under my imagined coin, that bitcoin's design presents. And that's when I became a maximalist.

Expand full comment

Thank you Mark. Very interesting perspective! I don't think many people can pinpoint the exact moment they became a maximalist :)

Expand full comment

I have also experimented a lot with alternative usecases for decentralized blockchains. I’ve tried to build a chain for selling products (e.g. second hand). The idea was not even to add a coin to it, but just a way to interface with product offerings.

I realized at some point that it made no sense to have all offerings permanently on a blockchain, or anything other than money for that matter.

I’m still fascinated by the idea of doing opensource decentralized platforms (e.g. for sales), but I’m now focussing on leveraging Bitcoin nodes for running such decentralized applications and using the Lightning as the underlying monetary network.

I’m also writing an article on this and I have a project up on GitHub: GitHub.com/bureaugewas/Ddist

Expand full comment

Thanks for sharing. I agree there is lots of power in opensource. Actually, not being a computer person, I can probably only see a small part of the possibilities!

Expand full comment

I just published an article about this topic, you should check it out. Let me know what you think.


Expand full comment

When I got into it, 2012, there was almost nothing else. I vividly remember saying on freenode bitcoin chat "bitcoin is an avenging angel that will bring a wealth transfer from the most evil and vicious to the good".

My intro was via Silk Road. I landed in jail and did some time homeless for a lot of the last decade and finally broke into the dev biz working on a craptocurrency called parallelcoin. I was intimately experiencing several parts of the protocol design, and at the same time mastering Golang.

Then, thanks to this experience I got the confidence, and I emphasise confidence because my reason for not going all in on Bitcoin was the cost of running a node, the big hump of buying a miner, and being so far from where I was born, caught up in the struggle of where to live.

Then I got some work working for kleptocurrencies. Ethereum clones at first, and then this year I finally got a paid gig working on a Cosmos based system.

My consistent experience out of 3 projects was that kleptocurrencies are run by psychopaths.

As I was in the middle of the Cosmos project, Luna blew up, and that's a Cosmos based chain.

It flipped me. At that point, I'm like, ok, I am still teh crypto system programmer but I can't do this working for scams business anymore. From the perspective of enabling psychos, to the fact that the guys inside these companies are, well, psychos too.

I am only just scraping by right now, I have enough bitcoin stashed to scrape another 2 months and I have to have already done a month before that time ends or I'm in the poo.

I also have an extra double plus disability in that I absolutely hate the trendy programming language so many kleptocurrencies embraced, Rust, Oh yes I can work with that junk but I SO DON'T WANT TO. To me, Go is to programming as Bitcoin is to money. There just is no substitute. To me, this is why Lightning is all written in Go. The best bitcoin light client is written in Go. Only garbage programmers hate go.

To me, the vision of the future is with Bitcoin and Go at the top of the pile, where they just simply are. So I'm maybe a little precarious here but I know this is the right way to go. Mozilla, the creator of Rust, refused to ratify W3C DIDs because they were going to be notarized on Bitcoin.

C'mon, bitcoiners, let's not comfort the crappy C++ clone that is Rust, build our stuff as much as possible in Go, the language of choice of all of the old school hard core Bitcoiners from the early days after Satoshi left.

You will all be assimilated. It is fate.

Expand full comment

Thanks for reading my post and sharing your story, David. These insights are priceless. All the best and good luck to you!

Expand full comment

Thank you for this article, Niko. Many people misunderstand what “maximalism” means and immediately associate it with a hate for altcoins, etc. Rather, maximalists are just choosing to prioritise Bitcoin.

I am curious though--do you think that we can make progress on both the Bitcoin and broader crypto front simultaneously?

By the way, I’d really love to hear your thoughts on this recent piece I made on economic arguments for Bitcoin (it is a response to Noah Smith’s piece). Would deeply appreciate any thoughts you might have!


Expand full comment

Hi Ram. I have to admit, I do have some hate for altcoins as well. They are bad for the image of "crypto" but mostly they just confuse people looking for answers. But as long as they leave us Bitcoiners alone, I guess it's not a problem. And like I wrote: I was one as well.

Right now I'm rather negative on the "broader bitcoin front" to be honest.

Thank you for your feedback and the link. I like your writing style!

Personally I think that the economic debate is so messed up, it's almost beyond repair. See how Noah talks about how economists go back and forth over the "optimal rate of inflation"? Now, from the perspective of someone who wants to "steer" or "organise" the economy, this makes sense I guess. But it's weird that after 400 years of central banking we STILL haven't figured out this very basic question. And even if we did, we also haven't figured out how exactly to steer inflation towards that target.

I'd let the market decide what the optimal rate of inflation is. But that's just me :)

Expand full comment
Aug 18, 2022Liked by Niko Jilch ⚡️

Grateful for the reply, Niko :)

I agree that altcoins bad atm for "crypto". Personally, I don't believe in any altcoin in particular, but I do think that they have a use-case--which is to channel people to back to Bitcoin (as various others in this comments section have narrated, haha).

Perhaps my newness to this space is making me overly optimistic about web3, etc., but I do hope that we get Bitcoin down first--as you rightly said, let's end govt monopolization of money--and then focus on decentralizing other stuff, too.

And yes, the econ debate is absolutely messed up. It's almost incoherent, and sometimes I wonder whether there's any point discussing. But no harm having fun, right?...

Lastly, thanks for reading the article. It means a lot!


Expand full comment