Cartoonized saint

The Internet of Money review—7 years later

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Backstory

As a brand new bitcoiner, circa 2012-2015, I recall hearing the mellifluous cadence of Andreas Antonopoulos speaking in what I presumed were distinguished halls of higher learning. His words hopped and flowed with the timbre of an academic technologist but with an undercurrent of fire in his Bitcoin advocacy. His speeches effortlessly captivated me with his seemingly profound understanding of this complicated new technology.

Years later, the book The Internet of Money collectivized and canonized these speeches to the written word. I picked it up in 2016 and gave away a few copies as curios and gifts to my closest friends and my monetary activist allies of the era.

As I navigated the labyrinth of essays and talks, the depth of Antonopoulos’ insights into the world of Bitcoin was nothing short of breathtaking.

An angel looking at the heaven

From the very first page, The Internet of Money enveloped me in an intoxicating blend of revolutionary ideas and audacious predictions, challenging long-held beliefs about the nature of money and its place in our interconnected world. As I progressed through the book, the tension between established financial systems and the untamed frontier of bitcoin became palpable. I was excited that finally there was more than criticism of the fiat system, but also a real, workable solution to the problems that activists such as myself could get behind, build upon and create a true competitive marketplace for money!

Armed with incisive wit and unapologetic candor, he endeavored to inspire readers to ponder the significance of this burgeoning technology, ultimately leaving them with a sense of wonder for the transformative power of bitcoin and the boundless possibilities it was believed to unlock in an increasingly interconnected world. Regrettably, time has demonstrated the fallibility of his once-illustrious predictions and cast a somber shadow over the once-promising future of bitcoin.

Cracks forming

Despite the initial promise and enthusiasm, it is with a heavy heart that one must acknowledge the author’s inadvertent role in undermining his own advocacy. In his fervor to champion the cause of bitcoin, Antonopoulos may have contributed to the very pitfalls that have plagued its progress. By presenting a perhaps overly optimistic and idealistic view of Bitcoin as an asset (rather than as a network or the technology), he may have inadvertently fueled a feverish speculative bubble and fostered an environment ripe for opportunistic scammers and malicious actors at the expense of any epistemologically self-conscious discussion of Bitcoin.

As the once-luminous star of BTC dims, the challenges it faces become more apparent, and the schisms in Bitcoin culture deepen, it’s hard not to look back with disappointment and irritation about how things played out under the narrative stewardship of folks like Antonopoulos.

Black angel

The shatter

While Antonopolous feigned support for sound money and the unstoppable nature of Bitcoin to fulfill the promises of a frictionless digital gold that was fundamentally intertwined with the internet, he reneged heartily when pressures mounted in 2017 to take a stand for Bitcoin’s fundamentals.

He, instead, chose to support a progressive view that Bitcoin was a soft protocol and open to change according to whatever opinions become popular. Popularity, in this case, is determined by low cost node endpoints that vote anonymously for changes that cannot be resisted once popularity reaches a threshold. In short, he believes in a sort of democratically governed technocracy for Bitcoin rather than it being an unchanging, sound money system.

Re-reading chapters of the book are tragic; heartbreaking. We really had a chance to change everything with Bitcoin, and Antonopoulos’ lack of fortitude contributed to making it culturally acceptable to treat bitcoin as a Hegelian popularity contest rather than a bullet-proof internet of money.

Is the book all bad? No. Much of it is good, especially in context of the era from which the content was created, but so much has been tainted by opportunism and schisms, and in hindsight, it is hard not to treat the work as one of a few bricks in a foundation made of sand.

Confused man

The Internet of Money: 5/10. Would not recommend.

Today, you can find him writing about Ethereum and Lightning Network and testifying as an expert witness against Satoshi Nakamoto while principled bitcoiners work tirelessly and steadfastly in the BSV ecosystem.

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