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The ideas are elegant. The ambition is impressive. But how exactly does Bitcoin work in practice? Well folks, that's what I've been figuring out for the past month. Armed with my understanding of the network, I embarked on a journey to become a full node operator (i.e. a validator of transactions and blocks). Admittedly, I wasn't quite sure I could pull it off. Even with all my prior research, this felt like a tricky technical challenge. And yet here I am, running a Bitcoin (and Lightning!) node with little fuss. How so?

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Research

All Things Bitcoin; Layer Cake

August 19, 2021

We have a robust protocol, but one that cares little for convenience or efficiency. And that presents a few issues for growth (and thus sustainability). It is like the British Labour Party in the 1980s; sticking true to its socialist ideals, and also completely useless at winning elections. Fortunately, an ecosystem has developed around Bitcoin that helps address the scalability conundrum. Enter the layer cake, my friends. A baking masterpiece that is worth the extra calories.

3 mins
All Things Bitcoin; Incentive Structure

August 13, 2021

Property rights are established by consensus. Time and energy is converted into security. Transactions are transparent. This creates a formidable flywheel; legitimacy encouraging growth, which in turn generates trust, resulting in more legitimacy. And so on. But Bitcoin cannot survive alone on impressive technical credentials. After all, there is a cost to all of this auditing, blocking and chaining. So for the flywheel to keep spinning, we must introduce an economic reward for participation.

All Things Bitcoin; Under The Hood

August 10, 2021

In essence, Bitcoin is the perfect marriage between long established record-keeping systems, cryptographic genius and networked computing. Add a sprinkling of economic incentive (scarcity, mining, fees) and we have something rather tangible. But it can still take a leap of faith to imagine a bunch of ones and zeros as the basis for our financial future. For me it clicked when I (rightly or wrongly) visualised Bitcoin as a far more sophisticated version of Kazaa or LimeWire; a peer-to-peer network for payments rather than music.

All Things Bitcoin; What's in a Name?

August 4, 2021

Bitcoin could do with a gentle reframing. An association with something a little more familiar. Bitcoin, in my humble opinion, is a digital asset. A far less defensive term, don't ya think? In the early days, Bitcoin had to fight for recognition. It really needed to get straight to the point. Cryptocurrency is safe! Cryptocurrency is secure! This marketing strategy has succeeded beyond anyone's wildest expectations. With Bitcoin now firmly established, it can afford to feel more confident.

All Things Bitcoin; An Introduction

July 17, 2021

First, let's give our journey a name; All Things Bitcoin sounds about right. And where will we go? I'm sure this will chop and change, but the broad direction is clear. Start with the fundamentals. Explain how this darn BTC thing works. Then gradually weave this monetary phenomenon into wider questions about business, politics, life etc. etc. I have already visited some of these themes, but now I return with a fresh perspective.

Anthony in the Alps

July 16, 2021

I'm giving the floor to a two and a half hour epic from 2018, starring Grant Williams and Anthony Deden. It is a true masterclass in the investing long game. And filmed in a gorgeous Swiss setting for good measure. I could condense Anthony's outlook into neat soundbites, but that would be doing zero justice to the timeless wisdom on display. Instead I highlight his key preferences; assets that exhibit scarcity, endurance and independence.

2 mins
Highway to the Metaverse

June 16, 2021

The digital arena has become far more interesting. Much like a developed country offers property rights via law and order, metaverse platforms can offer property rights through code. And with rights we acquire value. With value we attract motivation. To build. To sell. To buy. To cooperate. To do anything. It begins to sound much more like a functioning economy rather than a mere game.