Erasing Bitcoin’s History

April 5, 2016 15:07 UTC

Bitcoin prides itself on decentralization. Ironically, much of the knowledge-base which has heretofore fueled the network’s information channels is consolidated in relatively few places.

Much of the history of Bitcoin is stored online and at very few sites. Primary sources are important to the study of history in academia, representing an artifact, a document, a recording, or other source of information created during the studied time period. A primary source can also be called an original source or evidence.

What’s a primary source in Bitcoin? Undoubtedly, the software itself first and foremost. Also, the white paper originally published by Satoshi Nakamoto and possibly others published earlier by Nick Szabo and others. All coding work done on Github tells a very hands-on story about how Bitcoin evolved. Theymos’ properties – BitcoinTalk and Reddit Bitcoin – house the lion’s share of the online creation communities decision-making process and debates. CoinDesk, a large Bitcoin site recently purchased by Digital Currency Group, represents another main source.  A newer, but growing website,  Bitcoin.com, and its associated BTC reddit page will likely house a considerable amount of the primary sources over time. As well as this site.

What this means is that, already consolidated, the primary sources for the Bitcoin experiment are ripe for manipulation or to go down an Orwellian ‘memory hole.’ Granted, there are many mirror sites where the Bitcoin story could be pieced together, such as the Wayback Machine, but the possibility remains the bitcoin’s primary sources detailing the evolution of the online creation community could be compromised if very few interests collaborated towards such a goal.

There is considerable power to be gained by controlling an increasing amount of the information revolving around Bitcoin. For instance, many people accuse of Theymos of censoring his Reddit forum, the most popular Bitcoin forum on the Internet’s “front page.” This has led to another website, Reddit BTC, to form. What would happen, though, if an administrator – or administrators – decided to vanish as much information as they could or to re-craft a new story of Bitcoin for future generations? This might be possible with the resources and strategy.

The solution to this is complicated. The suggestion to have more forums makes the discussion more diffuse and perhaps less efficient than if there were fewer forums. A solution that might work could come from quite a few of the projects being worked on currently in blockchain. IBM, while busy at work with R3 on a blockchain-based financial channel, also imagines a new, distributed Internet, such as Maidsafe’s serverless Internet project. Another way to combat this is to do it the old school way: write paper books.

For the younger readers, an explanation: a book is a collection of written, printed, illustrated or blank sheets, made of ink, paper, parchment, or other materials, fastened together to hinge at one side. A single sheet within one such book is referred to as a leaf, and each side of one such leaf is a page, upon which there is text, images or nothing.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article are solely that of the author and do not represent those of, nor should they be attributed to CCN.

Featured image from Shutterstock.

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