The difference between real ‘Bitcoin Maximalism’ and ‘Toxic Maximalism’
Many years ago, ‘Bitcoin Maximalism’ was a position taken by those people in the Bitcoin world who thought that the bitcoin blockchain could be useful for securing all kinds of different, arbitrary data. The theory was that we could put DNS services on the blockchain for example.
Hashes would point to URLs, just like the modern internet, and we could do away with the traditional server/client model and move to a more secure model where you only had to pay for your domain registration once, and you’d own it forever, instead of renting it from ICANN through a domain hosting service in perpetuity.
But since the Bitcoin network was only young and still growing, the fear that the blockchain would scale so large so fast that no-one would be able to host it, let alone download the blockchain forced development of ideas onto other chains. The first of these new blockchains was called ‘Namecoin’, and it ran with the idea of creating a decentralised nameserver with some notable success.
Matt Corallo proved that we could indeed use blockchain architecture in such a way, and it lead to a slew of other projects all demonstrating that blockchain architecture could work for a huge range of different applications.
In the 8 years that followed Namecoin’s introduction, the central idea behind ‘Bitcoin Maximalism’ got lost amongst a new crowd of people who took it to mean something else entirely, they joined the camp of hardcore adherents who’d grown up believing that we shouldn’t put anything else on the blockchain other than large-value transactions and that Bitcoin should act as a kind of digital gold, good only for storing value long-term.
These bitcoin conservatives believed that keeping the block size down to its original 1Mb block-size was how Satoshi Nakamoto had originally intended the system to work, so as to create a large base of people able to host the chain at home, and thus provide protection if the fateful day ever came when governments tried to shut the system down.
Today, they term their position as ‘Bitcoin maximalism’. It is anything but. More recently, their attitude has been termed as ‘Toxic Maximalism’ because their attitude towards BSV is so malevolent.
True Bitcoin Maximalism is about creating a very large public blockchain for anyone to use for anything they like. It is a vision of a redesigned internet which uses the bitcoin blockchain as its backbone, and incorporates all the use cases from all the different chains under one unifying security architecture.
As such, for those who believe in bigger blocks, all the other chains served as merely ‘proof of concept’ for what could be done on the bitcoin blockchain, once it had matured.
That day has now arrived.
Starting with the November 2018 upgrade to 128Mb sized blocks, and continuing in July with the introduction of 2Gb sized blocks, we are now able to build whatever services we like on top of the bitcoin blockchain, and soon, there will be no no limit to the amount of data we’re able to store on chain.
This is true ‘Bitcoin Maximalism’.
In recent years, lots of column inches have been dedicated to espousing the idea that ‘Bitcoin is digital gold’, a store of value that competes with traditional forms of investment and gives a much higher rate of return (albeit with a much greater risk profile).
Equally, there’ve been howls and screams from more traditional market watchers that it’s nothing of the sort, and has no intrinsic value, so it couldn’t possibly be digital gold. They point out that anything which returns outsized profits like Bitcoin is no different to a Ponzi scheme.
Both camps are missing the point.
Bitcoin was specifically and carefully designed to meet the three fundamental criteria which define money.
To work, it must be a store of value, a medium of exchange and a unit of account. And both the ‘Store of value’ use case and the ‘Medium of exchange’ aspects have been misunderstood, misrepresented and mis-sold by the two best known camps in Bitcoin to further their ideological ends, whilst the ‘Unit of account’ aspect has been overlooked by all but one.
Specifically, there are three bitcoin camps. The ‘Store of Value’ camp in BTC, and ‘Medium of Exchange’ camp in BCH, and the real Bitcoin Maximalists, who also champion the unit of account, in BSV.
Out of the three, Bitcoin SV offers the most amount of utility to the market, because it offers the largest blocks to the market. Development on the network is free, meaning that an increasing amount of blockchain projects will likely migrate (or port) over to the new standard.
Development on the BSV chain is granted under the terms of the OpenBSV licence.
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