What is Bitcoin?

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As we usher in 2017, a new book has been released by one of Bitcoin’s most well known and respected figures, Andreas M Antonopoulos. Entitled “The Internet of Money”, this 132 page read provided an engaging compendium of talks, lectures, radio interviews and print articles by Antonopoulos over the past three years.

In the spirit of the New Year, promising immense new possibilities for bitcoin and the world of digital money, a few excerpts from each of the book’s chapters has been provided below:


On “What Is Bitcoin?”

Bitcoin is digital money, but it’s so much more than that. Saying bitcoin is digital money is like saying the internet is a fancy telephone. It’s like saying that the internet is all about email. Money is just the first application. Bitcoin is a technology, it is a currency, and it is an international network of payments and exchange that is completely decentralized. It doesn’t rely on banks. It doesn’t rely on governments.”

On Peer-to-Peer Money

We use money to communicate value to each other, to express to each other how much we value a product, a service, a gesture. We use it as the basis of social interaction because by communicating value to each other, we create social bonds. So, money is also a very important social construct.”

On Privacy, Identity, Surveillance and Money

I don’t have a Swiss bank account in my pocket. I have a Swiss bank.”

On Innovators, Disrupters, Misfits and Bitcoin

Bitcoin is going to win because it’s open. In a world of tinkerers, of experimenters, and of makers, open wins. The reason it wins is that it allows innovation to flourish at the edges.”

On Dumb Networks, Innovation and the Festival of the Commons

Bitcoin is simply a dumb network, and that’s one of its strongest and most important features.”
In order to run a new application or innovate on a dumb network, all you have to do is add innovation at the edge. Because a dumb network can support smart devices, you don’t need to change anything in the network.”
Bitcoin doesn’t suffer from a tragedy of the commons like most financial networks do. I can’t innovate on somebody else’s network. When VISA innovates, only VISA wins. When Mastercard innovates, only Mastercard wins. If a feature is deployed on SWIFT, I don’t get it as a consumer. If Bank of America makes something new and snazzy, they do it competitively and at the exclusion of every other bank that didn’t implement that feature.”
It’s not an exclusionary principle; instead of a tragedy of the commons, in bitcoin, you have a festival of the commons. A commons that gets better when more companies use it.”

On Infrastructure Inversion

Over the next 15 to 20 years, we’ll see a great infrastructure inversion happen in finance.”
Once you flip the infrastructure, simulating the past on the network of the future becomes extremely easy.”

On Currency as a Language

Currency as a means of expression, currency as a tool of language, is no longer up to the issuer. It is up to us as individuals making a choice to use that currency, and we give it value through our use.”
We’re going to start treating currency as an application, and in order to do that we’re going to need interfaces that allow us a unified currency experience, that allow us to have a single wallet with perhaps 150 different currencies in it.”

On Bitcoin Design Principles

Bitcoin is a radical break from the past, so understanding the way traditional money works doesn’t help you understand bitcoin”
Bitcoin desperately needs design. It has been created by engineers and it is absolutely inscrutable.”

On Money As A Content Type

A bitcoin transaction can be transmitted over completely unsecured Wi-Fi. By smoke signal. By light signal. With carrier pigeons. It doesn’t matter. Nothing in that message can be compromised”
As we move into this world where money is a content type, the gatekeepers of the old payment systems will cling to the illusion that traditional banking is quality. That the gatekeepers are the quality. But that’s not where the quality is.”

On Elements of Trust

Bitcoin isn’t what you think it is. It’s a platform. It’s not a payment network. It’s not a currency. It’s not a banking system. It’s a platform that guarantees certain trust functions.”

On Scaling Bitcoin

I can say a sentence not many people can say: In 1992, I visited the entire web in an afternoon. Both sites. Because there were two. I thought, oh my god, this is going to be huge! The internet will never scale.”
Bitcoin is failing to scale. If we’re really lucky, bitcoin will continue to fail to scale gracefully for 25 years, just like the internet.”
“Every year we will fail to scale for the next application and succeed to scale for the previous ones.”

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