The Problem of "Finding Bitcoin"

In the English language mass market media, it has until recently been extraordinarily difficult to find mentions, much less information about ongoing concerns in Bitcoin. Now it has been plenty easy to find mainstream press mentions of ongoing scams like Mt Gox, "The Bitcoin Foundation", and various mining concerns. These various sorts of things have dominated mass market English language reporting on Bitcoin well before they collapsed as scams, and they persist in reporting largely on these concerns. Thankfully the trend seems to be changing in 2014, if slowly.

Over the past several months, on the heels of Mircea Popescu's rescue of OpenBSD, actual Bitcoin Businesses have slowly been gaining traction and mass market media coverage. The rescue of course happened in the name of his MPEx Bitcoin stock exchange and spawned a number of stories, including many from major market outlets that neglected to mention where the story was initially broken on the web.1 Since that story on January 19th MPEx and Mircea Popescu have gradually entered into mass market media coverage. Recent coverage of Mircea's exchange with the SEC show however that this process is still ongoing.2

Of all of the mass market outlets to cover the exchange between MPEx and the SEC, the best treatment was probably done by Gawker. Maybe it isn't that surprising considering the way Gawker themselves were lawyered up and prepared to defend their right to post a Hulk Hogan sex tape. Gawker is also notable for their accurate and well defended criticism of Skyline chili as the worst substance masquerading as "food" in the United States, accurately ranked well below even North Dakota's Lutefisk.3 Not quite as well done as Gawker's write up was one from the Washington Post. Missing the mark nearly completely were Bloomberg and their subsidiary Business Week which really missed the point.4

Putting aside what makes some of the coverage better or worse for the moment, let us consider a divide in how a number of Bitcoin related companies were developed. Many, especially the ones which have historically garnered a lot of mass media attention, embraced the media circus early. They made efforts to spread their press releases far and ended up growing much faster than they were prepared to handle. For many of these companies the end result was disaster, or will likely be disaster in the cases where it hasn't happened yet.

Meanwhile more quietly, yet still openly people have been focusing on thing that work securely and at scale. Outreach was done to people involved and interested in involving themselves in Bitcoin, rather than yelling on rooftops and trying to bring the world to their operation they ended up making things that work for people who need them to work.

Unlike other operations that lawyered up when confronted and were force to fold under the weight of their untenability like BTC-TC, Bitfunder, and GLBSE, MPEx had been lawyering up and preparing for potential legal cooperation or confrontation since July 2011.56 What Gawker gets that the other mass media venues haven't yet in this case is that this news isn't about the Dice site, and it isn't a case of the Securities and Exchange Commission bringing the hammer down. This is a case where the Securities and Exchange Commission is finding in a position where it is interacting with an established concern outside of itself which has de facto regulatory authority and the Securities and Exchange Commission having the dilemma by which it can adapt establishing friendly relations and garnering efficacy in the space or it can find itself scraping against every possible and imaginable legal barrier to the benefit of no one.

  1. Technically the first place might have been but the first write up of any vaguely Journalistic sort appeared here.  

  2. Not that this is an entirely bad thing. Getting this whole Bitcoin thing and learning the space takes time. No less than 6 to 12 months of reading independently. Reading independently is a very important part as MtGox and Bitcoin Foundation staff are likely learning. 

  3. Ohio's general failure as an anything has been discussed on this blog before.  

  4. The two really published the same thing. Only Business Week's was later and render a bit shittier still. If you really want to check it out you can here.  

  5. As a note to trained Journalists looking to work the Bitcoin Beat the exchange which revealed this information is the perfect example of how to request and receive information as opposed to other means.  

  6. And as I write this post a Journalist gets it, Congrats.  

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