After my second Austin Bit Devs, I began asking myself, “why can’t I find this productive of a Bitcoin community online?” Bit Devs are monthly Bitcoin meetups held worldwide, an interactive review of primarily technical Bitcoin-related developments. It’s a seemingly simple meetup but something special happens when you share space with people you share values with.¹
I left each Bit Devs high on Bitcoin’s orange tonic - energized and convicted for weeks. I learned about bleeding edge Bitcoin tech, taught what I knew to others, brainstormed on how to promote and defend Bitcoin, and made strangely persistent relationships. I dedicated my career to Bitcoin after my second Bit Devs. Only, I had to move to Austin to have this experience.
“This bothers me,” I complained to Ben Carman on a walk to get drinks after a Bit Devs. I wanted a Bit Devs community online, a Bit Devs regardless of where I lived, a Bit Devs every darn day.
While I was orange-pilled by some combination of Michael Goldstein, Pierre Rochard, Saifedean Ammous, and Jimmy Song on Twitter in 2017, Bit Devs’ essence was absent on Twitter. It’s also absent on the unfortunately crypto-phobic Hacker News and on the borderline lowest common denominating Reddit. To speak to something bigger, what’s absent online are natural communities² and I believe its because of their community’s incentives.
Behavior in human communities develops as a result of the incentives humans in the community are given, and existing online communities influence behavior by format, pseudo-reputation, gamification, and moderation. Basically their communities develop as a result of expression limits, rewards backed by nothing, and centralized control. My assumption with Stacker News is that Bitcoin fixes this by having users stake something other than pseudo-reputation, Bitcoin, and earn rewards that are worth something in the external world, Bitcoin.
In Bitcoin we say “Bitcoin fixes this” because we believe Bitcoin changes the incentives humans have in any inheriting system. We believe Bitcoin encourages people to think long term and that this seemingly small yet fundamental change is utterly transformative for the better. This is why I started Stacker News. I think Bitcoin will help us build natural communities like Bit Devs online.
- Sharing an interest in Bitcoin with people isn’t sharing a simple kind of value. Monetary systems are meta-value systems. Sharing Bitcoin with people is something more powerful.
- I’m loading the term natural communities with what I think makes in-person communities productive, incentives imparted by nature. For me, what primarily distinguishes in-person communities from online ones is that you’re sacrificing something real when you participate, social reputation, and earn something real when you participate well, social reputation, meaningful favors, and friendship.