Leigh Cuen, a Coindesk journalist, said a mainstream novelist she won’t name asked her out of the blue to explain bitcoin.
Someone says @jk_rowling is his favorite!! And thus so began one fun night on bitcoin crypto twitter.
The challenge was set, with countless of replies attempting to give an explanation Rowling could understand.
That includes Elon Musk, who after being pestered by twitter scammy crypto replies for much of 2018, now appears to have become a bitcoin fan.
It’s a bit unfortunate the entire crypto twitter has failed at the one job they have of explaining bitcoin, maybe because for many of them it’s been quite some time since they first wondered what on earth is this thing.
The difficulty here is further compounded by the fact that people who have what we’d call literary intelligence are usually pretty bad at maths, engineering, etc. While the latter are terrible communicators.
But ultimately there’s also the fact you need a bit of research to grasp bitcoin as it is a very novel thing and nothing like it has existed before.
Hence usually people tend to dismiss bitcoin when they first hear of it, but when they hear it for a second time or more they might actually bother to try and figure out what it actually is.
And what it is, bitcoin is a wholistic monetary system that is automatically run by code instead of banks or governments, making it basically the people’s money as they all can download the code if they want and so participate in ensuring its rules are followed, that being that only 21 million bitcoin can be created, that bitcoin can be moved digitally with the code keeping account of ownership. The code so being a software, a bit like the twitter app you just download like any other app, and that’s that.
That’s understandable and it’s pretty good for bitcoin because we didn’t know there were still people who don’t actually understand it.
After it went mainstream in America in 2017, almost everyone now has heard the word bitcoin, but clearly maybe as much as 80% of them don’t quite know what is bitcoin.
That’s because money and finance are very specialized things, but unlike many other specialized things, they have massive societal implications.
The French revolution, for example, was triggered by a monetary financial crisis. The Arab Revolutions of 2011 were too. The current burning Lebanon is burning because of the monetary financial system and its mismanagement.
To someone like Rowling money is… like a table. An objective thing that is just there and has a use and the more of it the better. However money is deeply political, and the current national money like the dollar or pound is subjective in as far as its nature is changed constantly by decisions from central banks and commercial banks which are not accountable to parliaments or voters.
Bitcoin makes money somewhat objective in as far as the code says how many there can be, 21 million, and that can’t be changed without all people across the world so reaching widespread agreement to change it.
In simple terms thus, the people have no say over the dollar or pound, but they do have full say over bitcoin and other networks like it, like ethereum.
For someone like Rowling or all people really, these are not difficult things to grasp. It is more whether they care to inform themselves and they should care because it is money and how banks or governments manage it that primarily leads to occasional societal collapses.
As the girl that rose from being on benefits to now a very rich woman, you’d expect someone like Rowling to have at least some interest in these sort of things and obviously the fact she bothered to so very publicly mention bitcoin in that first tweet, suggests she does have such interest.
We thus conclude with the response of Gregory Maxwell, one of the longest serving bitcoin developer who we quote in full:
“Some number of months back J.K. Rowling was the target of a social media drama-mob because she tweeted support of a researcher who made a comment which was considered by some to be insufficiently sensitive with respect to trangendered persons.
The firestorm died down after a while. But it could have continued. J.K. could have found herself severed from her banking relationships and unable to receive payments for her publications– just like Visa and Mastercard instituted a blockade against donations to Wikileaks years ago. Not because she broke any law, but because she was accused by an angry mob of supporting someone who was accused of being politically incorrect.
Isolated from her funding she might have found it much harder to endure the other negative consequences of being the target of a social media lynch-mob.
Bitcoin fixes this. Bitcoin is money that has minimal to no dependency on the whims of third parties. With Bitcoin you can’t have your access to your coins or your ability to transfer them cut off just because someone has decided they don’t like you or that you’re a political liability.
Bitcoin protects your right to believe right things and your right to believe wrong things. It doesn’t free you from the consequences of your actions, but it helps narrow the consequences to ones appropriate according to the rule of law rather than popular sentiment.
Of course, just having your money and your ability to pay and be paid protected from third party whim isn’t enough– but it’s a good start and way to have some piece of mind. As the saying goes, good fences make for good neighbours. Keeping other people out of your finances is a ‘good fence’. How you manage, earn, or spend your money is none of my business and vice versa.
Part of the reason we have money in the first place is specifically to separate our judgement of people from our ability to transact with them. Once money was invented we could use it sell someone an apple without having to judge if they’re a good person or not and without being too worried that our money would be dishonored by others because we accepted it from a person of the wrong politics, religion, or race. Money was just money: Fungible and equal.
But prior to Bitcoin all electronic money systems relied heavily on trusting a third parties. This trust also implies intrusive regulation and surveillance just to keep the whole thing working. As more transactions have moved online the massive centralization of electronic payments has hurt the effective fungibility of the money we use. By eliminating the trusted third parties Bitcoin restores many of the best qualities of money in a natively online form.”