CoinGeek RoundTable Episode 2: How Bitcoin fixes the Internet

Sybils around every corner, Twitter hacked through a spear-phishing campaign, and all of social media mired by fifty shades of Greg Maxwell: the backdrop of my opportunity to host the second episode of CoinGeek RoundTable! With faces from around the world, I was honored to host on the topic of a broken internet, and the power vested in Bitcoin to fix it. 

With years of experience in social media marketing, public advocacy and Bitcoin debates, I have plenty of experience in the brokenness of the internet. I was blessed to share the screen and some great ideas among a crowd of heavy-hitting peers: 

  • Connor Murray from True Reviews
  • Jeff Chen from Maxthon browser
  • Luke Rohenaz from TonicPow

We all had some previous interactions with one another, so we kept the introductions brief, but all three men have heavy hands into business-focused Bitcoin development targeting their own fronts in the revolution against the centralized internet. Luke started with an introduction to TonicPow: a peer-to-peer internet marketing interface that connects businesses to influencers through the Bitcoin protocol.

As a direct competitor to the advertising wings of Facebook, Twitter and Google TonicPow is a small player in a market with over $100 billion in annual revenue. However, the platform eliminates the predatory nature of data mining, ownership and the reselling of private data for the profit of the big players, so their unique offering puts them in a strong position to take market share from the titans.

Next, we heard the introduction of TrueReviews: an interface which creates a publicly verifiable proof of purchase as a non-fungible token (NFT) to help eliminate fraud in the review process for both internet and brick-and-mortar commerce! Amazon reviews are the gravitational nexxus of consumer decision-making, and TrueReviews seeks to extend that model of consumer-created intelligence into a platform that is easy to use and publicly auditable!

Jeff Chen was the last to introduce his product, but made a point of explaining how many threads of brilliance he has in the pipeline. Maxthon browser (a full featured, secure and modern web browser) is the user-facing piece of his puzzle, but he is also building out a new layer of underlying infrastructure that can sit between bitcoin and the end-user GUI. He mentioned NBDomain and the return to real privacy and trust that can be restored in the new internet. By the end of the interview, Jeff had explained solutions to fixing everything from domain spoofing to completely re-architecting SSL certification.  

What a backdrop! 

A phrase that has always irked me is “bitcoin fixes this,” when it is said almost sarcastically and without any further context. It was my goal to really drill into this, because BSV’s advocates also use and reuse common tropes like “proof of work” in ways which might be less than effective, so we dug into that point. HOW does bitcoin fix this broken internet? The RoundTable was quick to hang on the problem of biased and predatory curation of search results. A simple search algorithm at Google could, in theory, sway the results of a national election, so it is very important to curate on the basis of value rather than solely on the opinions of official curators. The often cited 21e8 and BoostPow protocols were brought up as possible solutions that might be too ethereal in their current iterations, but everyone had strong opinions on the need to eliminate sock-puppetry and sybils on the internet by leveraging the bitcoin protocol’s uniquely powerful ability to enforce identity and attestation. 

One point that stood out strong to me was that even though all the participants are steeped in projects that seek to fix the internet, we had to admit that none of us have all the answers, and that we absolutely need more entrepreneurs in the game to fill in the gaps. 

Are the small blockers wrong? 

While we had a few good chuckles about Greg Maxwell and Jameson Lopp, I had to bring us to reality and address some of the criticisms that come from the mainstream of the blockchain intelligentsia. Can bitcoin compete with the ISPs and data carrier networks? Are we aiming too high?

Ultimately, Connor dispelled the small blocker myths with an eloquent tangent about how data transfer with the underpinning of monetary value is a problem that solves itself, and he punctuated the whole of big blocker sentiment when he stated “we’re now beginning to debate application layer instead of protocol. It’s just an enormous shift.” And he’s right. The small blockers are stuck in the theoretical, while the big blockers are building businesses on the next level. It is those business incentives that create the environment necessary to scale to unimaginable size on chain. 

And that was the real bright spot of the entire conversation: Bitcoin is just a tool that allows entrepreneurs to fix the internet. Twitter/Facebook/Google et al are not broken. People are broken, and they do not even know that they have the option to own their own data or their identities, so they freely give them away to be repurposed by the vipers. So instead of debating protocol, we really need to be building things that matter, and that is truly what sets BSV apart from the rest of the digital currency conversations. 

So what matters? 

According to the panelists, browser extension wallets and more usable wallets in general are a sore spot. While praising some of the solutions provided by MoneyButton and others, everyone agreed that the biggest challenge that we have to master is the UI/UX of wallets across the BSV ecosystem. Everyone laughed because some of the best wallets in the entire digital currency universe are BSV-exclusive tools, but there is still a ton of work to do!

The next point is in retraining people to seek true value. We recorded the episode on the morning after the big Twitter hack that saw loads of celebrities accounts hacked and repurposed to solicit BTC from poor suckers who use the platform. Everyone lit up with solutions to this problem, like the aforementioned domain certificate solutions that Chen is working on, as well as dead-man-switch protocols that could be written into identity tools.

There were several more topics, but if you have read this far, just watch the episode! All three men left me challenged and inspired with some of their suggestions to fix the internet with Bitcoin. And as we wrapped up, everyone at the RoundTable seemed eager to find ways to cooperate on developing ways for their businesses to link services. 

I want to thank Jeff, Connor and Luke for their time and their visionary leadership in Bitcoin! They taught me a few things, and we had fun with it too. I hope the viewers enjoy the episode as much as I did. 

New to Bitcoin? Check out CoinGeek’s Bitcoin for Beginners section, the ultimate resource guide to learn more about Bitcoin—as originally envisioned by Satoshi Nakamoto—and blockchain.