On the day I started this blog Mircea Popescu honored it with the translation of an older Trilema Article and referred to myself as an "older bitcoiner" and followed a week later with continued praise "Best working of a Trilema point into a blog article this year award." I begin with this, because I hope the pseudo-confessional1 that follows might inspire some newcomers to this domain or hopefully shock some CEOs so sure on their cock to stop, read more, lurk more, and learn moar before jumping into this bitcoin thing potentially endangering themselves and others.
I don't title myself bitcoiner.2 I accept the title of bitcoiner when bestowed upon me by my betters as it has been and feel honored by its use in this situation.
Why does this matter, and why should you care? Mostly, because titles have little value beyond the extend to which people other could ascribe them to you. Whether you have a certificate in programming from Cow Town Community College or a Computer Science degree from MIT, other people generally can't call you a software developer unless you've been involved in developing some substantial software. You could be something else, but unless you have a demonstrable portfolio of work befitting a software developer no one but the gullible will probably title you as such, and their titling isn't worth much anyway.
I consider myself primarily a learner in Bitcoin. I've played with many Bitcoin services people have built. I have participated in person to person trades involving Bitcoin on different venues. There are many things I haven't done though. I haven't mined beyond the nearly obligatory times I tried it to make sure I had intellectual ability to learn to mine, as I'd done the math to realize mining, for me, would not produce and acceptable return on investment. I haven't played with the Silk Road or other tor hidden markets because the counterparty risk is too great relative to my wrist's distaste for stainless steel bracelets. What I have done though is try to learn the space, the people in it, and who tends to be write and wrong.
Wrong is something I have been before. During the Great Blockchain Fork of March 2013, I was drunk watching the drama on IRC in much the way people watch sporting events.3 I had the naive idea that the the side of the fork representing the 0.8 client should win, for some newbish idea that came from reading some developers insisting the new implementation was better. Over time with reading and thinking, I came to realize my wrongness, the forced hijacking of this Bitcoin deal is a threat. In the aftermath I was involved in the creation of this bet:4
That no effort was made to create a specification for Bitcoin, even after a near disaster caused by the lack of having such a thing was a wake up call. Instead effort goes into trying to reimplement a "fixed" version of a horribly broken payment protocol Bitcoin shipped with in its earliest form. Without a documented, if lengthy specification third party implementations of a full Bitcoin node will always be second or third class citizens. People in the low margin business of mining have no reason to use an alternative implementation if undocumented and undiscovered errors from Voodoo code management lead their solved block to be orphaned.5 The economic question of "will my coinbase for this solved block be credited to me" supercedes the necessary concern that everyone being pushed onto the same codebase because "The Code is the Spec" leaves Bitcoin vulnerable to attack by the people who manage the code.
Having been wrong, I maintain an acute awareness for my potential continued newbishness. I blog6 because there are lessons to be learned. Lessons that aren't being offered outside of a select few sites, and the people running those sites often have better things to do than blog about every piddly point that can be made about Bitcoin. So I proceed with the writing because even though there is an ocean of stuff being being written, there is a shortage of quality material to be read coming from too few faucets. I strive to contribute quality to this space, but who really knows? I'm still calling myself a newb, because done right this learning of things is a process that should be continued until one's last conscious moment.
Pseudo much like how purely software generated random numbers can only be at most pseudo-random, if you can't identify the many ways it is important you need to read more to have much chance of safely handling any substantial amount of cryptocurrency. ↩
I tend to capitalize Bitcoin but not too bitcoiner because there seem to be a lot of idiots sewing their own badgeswith this title. ↩
I watch sporting events in this manner as well. ↩
Questioning the developers decisions is not an anti-Bitcoin position, but rather can be a pro-Bitcoin position. ↩
and will wait for other better people to title myself blogger before wearing it. ↩