Ordinal Wizards: Challenging Bitcoin Maximalism

Ordinal Wizards: Challenging Bitcoin Maximalism

The Evolution of Bitcoin: From Genesis Block to JPEG Day

This is an opinion editorial by Nathan Cryder, the COO of a renewable energy company and the founder of a bitcoin-focused holding company.

It’s unlikely that Bitcoin’s mysterious, pseudonymous creator, Satoshi Nakamoto, knew just how many similarities Bitcoin would one day share with the world’s great religions when they first released their code to the public.

Bitcoin, the world’s first cryptocurrency and blockchain, has not only revolutionized the financial industry but has also developed a cult-like following. Similar to religious holidays, Bitcoin enthusiasts celebrate various significant dates in the history of Bitcoin. January 3rd, known as “Proof of Keys Day,” emphasizes the importance of individuals holding their private keys instead of relying on third-party exchanges. Other holidays commemorate the first bitcoin transaction (“Bitcoin Pizza Day”), the resolution of the “Blocksize Wars” (“Bitcoin Independence Day”), and the release of the Bitcoin white paper (“Bitcoin White Paper Day”).

Unbeknownst to many, January 3rd, the day Nakamoto mined the genesis block in 2009, coincides with another significant historical event – Martin Luther nailing his 95 theses to the door of the Wittenberg Church in Germany. This event marked the beginning of the Protestant Reformation, challenging the traditions of the Catholic Church. Similarly, a group of Bitcoin enthusiasts, known as “Taproot wizards,” are pushing for the recognition of January 24th as “Bitcoin JPEG Day.” This date commemorates the creation of non-fungible tokens (NFTs) on the Bitcoin network, a development that has sparked controversy within the Bitcoin community.

The Religion of Bitcoin

Bitcoin’s most fervent enthusiasts, often referred to as “maximalists” or “maxis,” have been likened to religious evangelists. Their unwavering belief in the potential of Bitcoin has led to the creation of a Bitcoin “religion.” These maximalists position themselves as self-appointed guardians of Bitcoin, imposing litmus tests on other enthusiasts to prove their allegiance. They proudly display their commitment by replacing their eyes with laser beams in their social media avatars.

However, the toxic and extremist behavior exhibited by some maxis has overshadowed the positive aspects of their beliefs. While their political alignment with libertarianism and Austrian economics aligns with many Bitcoiners, their propagation of conspiratorial rhetoric on various non-monetary issues undermines the wider adoption of Bitcoin. To achieve widespread acceptance, focusing solely on Bitcoin’s core function as a secure and efficient transaction platform is crucial, rather than indulging in unrelated conspiracy theories.

An Ossified Base Layer

The parallels between Bitcoin and religion extend beyond the behavior of its enthusiasts. Bitcoin’s base layer code can be likened to religious scripture, with minimal changes occurring over time. The decentralized nature of Bitcoin’s base layer is preserved through a rigorous process of proposing and achieving community consensus on code changes. This has resulted in a relatively inflexible base layer, compared to more centralized blockchains like Ethereum.

The recent adoption of the Taproot and SegWit upgrades, designed to enhance the security and efficiency of the Bitcoin protocol, has sparked controversy within the Bitcoin community. These upgrades inadvertently enabled the creation of Ordinals and inscriptions, facilitating the transacting of NFTs on the Bitcoin network. While most Bitcoin miners have embraced these developments due to increased transaction fees, many maxis vehemently oppose them, arguing that they divert attention from Bitcoin’s core purpose as a sound medium of exchange.

A Battle for the Soul of Bitcoin

The emergence of Ordinals and NFTs on the Bitcoin network has sparked a culture war within the Bitcoin community. This internal conflict mirrors the “Blocksize Wars” of the past, pitting maximalists against NFT creators and enthusiasts. The tensions reached a climax at Bitcoin 2023 during “The Great Ordinals Debate,” where proponents and opponents fiercely argued their positions. This spectacle highlighted the clash between the heretic wizards challenging the toxic maximalists for the soul of Bitcoin.

In conclusion, Bitcoin’s evolution from its genesis block to the emergence of NFTs has led to a cult-like following reminiscent of religious fervor. While Bitcoin has the potential to revolutionize the financial landscape, it is essential to strike a balance between evangelism and toxic behavior. By focusing on Bitcoin’s core functionality and fostering a more inclusive and collaborative community, we can ensure the continued growth and adoption of this groundbreaking technology.

This is a guest post by Nathan Cryder. Opinions expressed are entirely their own and do not necessarily reflect those of BTC Inc or Bitcoin Magazine.