I didn’t “pivot” to Bitcoin SV immediately after the hard fork of November 2018. Nor was I cheering for either side during the arguments that caused it. But as much as I would have preferred to follow a unified Bitcoin Cash chain where all differences were resolved, it eventually became impossible. Here’s why.
Like many, I was dismayed at the prospect of another contentious hard fork in Bitcoin Cash so soon after the BTC/BCH split. BCH already faced a challenge in proving to the non-user public that it was superior to BTC, and another split would only muddy those waters further.
I was working full time for an online publication that took a neutral stance on blockchain projects. We had writers in the team who were opposed to BCH; others who supported it. I personally leaned towards BCH simply because more of my business and media contacts supported it, exposing me to their arguments more often.
I’m also based in Tokyo, where the social scene leans heavily towards BCH and BTC/BCH are the only Bitcoins exchanges can legally trade for Japanese yen. After the August 2017 fork, The Tokyo Bitcoin Meetup soon faded away, replaced by the Tokyo Bitcoin Cash Meetup on a different day. I had also traveled to a couple of Bitmain-sponsored BCH development events in Hong Kong as a guest of that company, though there was never any requirement to support the project. I attended those events due to proximity and curiosity, and the projects made sense to me.
That people like Craig Wright, Roger Ver, Daniel Krawisz, Kyuupichan and others were backing BCH also contributed. They were all people whose opinions I’d taken an interest in for years, and enjoyed what they had to say.
There’s also a reason I say “follow” rather than “support,” as there’s a difference.
I admit I’m not a technical person—in that, I don’t have enough experience coding and developing backend systems to make a valid assessment of what will work and what could fail in the long run. (Others should acknowledge their limitations here too, but that’s another story.)
So those of us in that position need to arrive at conclusions based on other factors. We listen to people we’ve trusted in the past, observe the quality of the arguments, or step back to take a wider view of all factors influencing outcomes, whether technical or otherwise. These could include personalities, backers, and the resources they’re deploying.
You’ll still find articles I wrote tracking BCH development into early 2019. They were necessary, as they helped me arrive at the conclusion that BSV was the “version of Bitcoin” that best represented the Bitcoin I’d been interested in since 2012.
So, back to why the BCH/BSV split dismayed me (and others). At the time we didn’t understand why it was happening as the differences were not as stark as the years-long block size debate. Was it a power grab, or series of ego trips? It seemed to come out of nowhere.
BCH’s multiple protocol development teams had always been a bit concerning, especially with scheduled hard forks every six months. It was only a matter of time before visions clashed, I thought, though I wasn’t expecting them to manifest so soon.
Ultimately the fork happened. The Bitcoin ABC team released an altered and risky new protocol—one that ensured it would “win” a hash war by preventing any other chain reconciling with its version, even if it had more proof-of-work. That version then officially became Bitcoin Cash, and took the BCH ticker symbol. However I knew that wasn’t as big a prize as the name “Bitcoin” itself, as outsiders could regard any “Bitcoin plus extra letters” as not the “real Bitcoin.” Whether BCH or BSV, it would take extra and equal effort to communicate its message.
The longest chain in a fork gets the name, that’s the rule. But that doesn’t automatically grant you the undying loyalty of all users, developers and investors, who form as much of the “soul” of Bitcoin as the name and history. It’s entirely possible for a majority chain and highest market cap to represent the wrong vision—and that’s what happened. Twice.
I noticed many of the influencers I followed sympathizing with BSV, so I started looking into it further. A unified protocol team committed to restoring Bitcoin to its white paper vision began to look appealing.
At the same time, I noticed high-level enthusiasm for BCH waning. The developers had already started to bicker and investors were backing off. The feeling in BCH groups was akin to winning a defensive war, but needing to hype patriotism while your cities lie in ruins and your people starving. The far-off “adversary” regroups and continues to prosper elsewhere. What’s more, it also begins to look like that adversary was right all along.
BCH had “won” the hash war yet it was BSV ramping up and gaining momentum. Why? BSV had marketing power, resources, good ideas, patents and talented developers… and Satoshi Nakamoto himself. BCH’s leaders were strangely quiet.
Then, right at the point where my doubt in BCH’s viability reached a peak, a friend came up to me and asked “are you on the Bitcoin SV train yet?” I thought for a second and said yeah, I guess I was. I thought the expression had a nice ring to it, so I went home and registered it as a Twitter handle—and took a new career direction.
Since then, my hunches of late 2018/early 2019 have all been strengthened, despite the ad hominem attacks on its community and the multiple personal messages telling me I’m crazy.
Bitcoin Satoshi Vision is what its name says: it’s Bitcoin as originally intended, and the Bitcoin with the highest likelihood of succeeding in the real (rather than utopian) world. Big blocks do far more than just increase transaction volume. From a media worker’s perspective, it’s simply far more interesting to cover.
So happy first anniversary BSV, and (soon) happy 11th birthday Bitcoin. Now, back to work.
The Genesis protocol upgrade on February 4, 2020 is a monumental step in the history of Bitcoin, and will see BSV returned as close as possible to the original protocol as envisioned by Satoshi Nakamoto. Visit the Genesis Hard Fork page to learn more.
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