Editorial 10 December 2018

Charles Miller

Growing pains of a new technology

The recent hash war seemed vaguely familiar. What does all this remind you of?

– A new technology with the potential to change the world
– Rival groups fighting over protocols they each see as critical to its future
– Issues around government and regulation
– Nobody knowing what the killer app will be, but convinced it will emerge
– Obscure techy decisions that may have lasting consequences

To me, it’s a rerun of the development of the Internet. I’ve been reading a fascinating history of that time, called Where Wizards Stay Up Late.

So how similar are the two narratives? Well, here are a few things from many decades ago that rang bells:

The Internet began with a problem: how could computers at America’s top universities be linked together so that information could be exchanged between them? Apart from the question of how to send the information, in the late 1960s, the computers used many different operating systems so they couldn’t talk to each other.

The solution was through the creation of a special network of dedicated computers to act as nodes that passed ‘packet switched’ messages (bits of messages that were reassembled at their destination) between the host computers at the universities.

The equivalent problem in the crypto world was how to create a digital currency whose security and value were independent of any existing institution. The solution lay in blockchain technology and a proof of work system by which mining computers were rewarded for maintaining the network.

So far, so technical. But what about human factors? As today with crypto, there were sceptics about the potential of the Internet. Even the future principal hardware designer for ARPAnet (the original, government-sponsored network which led to the Internet), Severo Ornstein, had his doubts when asked by his boss to comment on a request for proposals for a contract to build the first version of the network:

“I took it home and looked it over and came back a day or two later and put it down on his desk and said “Well, sure, I suppose we could build that if you wanted to, but I can’t see what one would want such a thing for.” (Laugh) Prophetic words …Anyway, I certainly confess to being absolutely dead wrong about the thing at the time. (Laugh).”

Cryptocurrency and blockchain technologies are in the same spot today: between passionate visionaries, like the early enthusiasts putting out the contract for the US government agency, and others who can’t see the point of it all.

With the Internet, the unexpected success turned out to be email, which soon took on a life of its own. The US Post Office tried to jump on the bandwagon with a clunky idea to send email messages between post offices and then deliver printouts through people’s letter boxes. Today, big financial institutions are developing plans for crypto, some of which are no doubt also doomed because they too see crypto in terms of their existing business rather than as a new paradigm.

But even the success of email didn’t come easily. Decisions about how it would work were fought over with with exactly the same kind of passion as those over block size and checkpoint protocol are today. The fact that every email has “To”, “From” and “Subject” fields at the top was not inevitable. It was the outcome of a protracted battle in an obscure 1970s messaging board called the MsgGroup. The long arguments about setting a standard format were known as the Header Wars – sounds familiar?

The debates had a fierce intensity: “MsgGroup members could argue about anything,” according to authors Katie Hafner and Matthew Lyon. “You’d swear you’d just dropped in on a heated group of lawyers, or grammarians, or rabbis.” Flaming was a new kind of personal attack used in the cause of establishing an agreed format for email headers.

Over time, and after countless discussions and arguments, protocols that created today’s Internet were gradually agreed. TCP/IP was the standard adopted for communication, rather than its rivals. New users gained access to the Internet through the development of ethernet networks. And somehow, in different ways, the system was paid for commercially when government funding was phased out.

Does that happy outcome bode well for crypto development or suggest how today’s disputes will be settled? Not precisely, but there may be something to be learnt from this description of how, after a few years, the heated MsgGroup disputes just faded away:

“It’s a bit difficult to pinpoint when or why …but by the early 1980s, note by note, the orchestra that had been performing magnificently and that had collectively created email over a decade, began abandoning the score, almost imperceptibly at first.” The work was done; the technology was adopted. Former enemies discovered they had more in common with each other than with those who were indifferent to it all.

The work is still being done in crypto and there’s no sign of universal harmony breaking out any time soon. But it’s worth remembering that raised voices are – to coin a phrase – proof of work. The benefits of fiercely fought arguments will likely be enjoyed by billions of users in the years to come.

In 1994, twenty-five years after building their pioneering pre-Internet projects, some of the original engineers got together for a reunion. By that time the Internet was becoming a household word. In his speech, one of the key figures, Frank Heart, reflected on the opportunity they’d had: “only a small fraction of the technically trained population get a shot at riding a technological rocket, and then get to see that revolution change the world”.

I take two lessons from that: first, although crypto is a decade old, it took a quarter of a century for the Internet to permeate into most people’s lives; and second, it’s a rare privilege to be at the centre of arguments that will determine the direction of significant technological change. Enjoy!

Note: Tokens on the Bitcoin Core (segwit) Chain are Referred to as BTC coins. Bitcoin Satoshi Vision (BSV) is today the only Bitcoin implementation that follows Satoshi Nakamoto’s original whitepaper for Peer to Peer Electronic Cash. Bitcoin BSV is the only major public blockchain that maintains the original vision for Bitcoin as fast, frictionless, electronic cash.



Cialis 20mg 12 Stuck Preisvergleich viagra prescription Kamagra Wo Bestellen Propecia Adverse Reactions п»їcialis Acheter Cialis Avec Paypal Viagra Rezeptfrei Ohne Kreditkarte Cialis Anwendung Dosierung Viagra Flugzeug Mitnehmen buy cialis Buy Doxycycline 100 Mg Online Rx Price Of Viagra 100mg Walmart Purchase Dutasteride Website Cialis With Priligy Pills cialis overnight shipping from usa Take Cephalexin With Food Stendra 50mg Erectile Dysfunction where to purchase discount isotretinoin no prior script overseas Zithromax Cost Cvs Viagra Migrana Pilule Pour Avorter viagra Vendo Viagra Propecia Prodotti Galenici Preis Cialis 10 Mg Proper Amoxicillin Dosage Viagra Haltbarkeit cialis Priligy Costo En Mexico Kamagra Oral Jelly Online Kaufen

Your comment is awaiting moderation.


Overnite Lexapro tadalafil cialis from india Acp11 Cialis Sin Receta Madrid Liquid Amoxicillin Dosage levitra maroc en ligne Vente Cialis En Suisse Cialis 10 Oder 20 Mg Cialis Efficacia Safe Online Places To Buy Cialis cheapest cialis 20mg Propecia Generico Farmacia Levitra Quale Dosaggio Provera Delivered On Saturday Buy Clomid Online From India El Cialis Cuanto Cuesta Viagra Generico Effetti Collaterali cialis Kamagra Oral Jelly 5mg Best Buy Discount Clobetasol Saturday Delivery Store Price Baton Rouge Cialis En Farmacias Finasteride 1 Mg Generique Nexium Online Order levitra generico comprar Can You Buy Zithromax Over The Counter Cialis Prix Public Cialis Pas Cher Paiement Securis

Your comment is awaiting moderation.

Royce Hillhouse

I know of the fact that nowadays, more and more people will be attracted to digital cameras and the discipline of pictures. However, like a photographer, you must first invest so much period deciding the model of camera to buy and also moving from store to store just so you may buy the cheapest camera of the trademark you have decided to select. But it does not end at this time there. You also have to think about whether you can purchase a digital dslr camera extended warranty. Thanks a bunch for the good tips I received from your website.

Your comment is awaiting moderation.

Add a Comment

latest news

Why regulation will help grow bitcoin adoption

Editorial 17 January 2019

Why regulation will help grow bitcoin adoption

Money is a fundamental part of the way any society operates, and governments have controlled how it is created and used.

Read More
Bitcoin Core’s SegWit still not viable a year after being introduced

Editorial 17 January 2019

Bitcoin Core’s SegWit still not viable a year after being introduced

Now, we’re looking at SegWit and wondering why, over a year after it was going to “rock the crypto world,” it is still floundering, not able to achieve the success its developers anticipated.

Read More
Dan Held almost gets Satoshi’s Vision correct

Editorial 16 January 2019

Dan Held almost gets Satoshi’s Vision correct

Dan Held may be a notable cryptocurrency veteran and a former executive with Blockchain.com, but several recent Twitter posts offering his take on digital currencies and, in particular, the interpretation of the original Satoshi’s Vision miss the mark.

Read More