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Notes from ‘The Internet of Money: Five Years Later’ in Chicago

Music Box Chicago The Internet of Money

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Back in 2013/14, when I first started learning about bitcoin, my go-to source of new knowledge on the topic was neither YouTube nor the dregs of /biz/, but rather a podcast called Let’s Talk Bitcoin. I have memories of listening to one episode after another, heading further and further into the backlog, excited about my growing understanding of cryptocurrency.

Eventually I began to feel that the conversations in the podcast were too technical, and essential details were flying right over my head. This, along with the sustained bear market after the 2013 crypto bubble burst, put a damper on my excitement for the topic. I unsubscribed from the podcast and let my Coinbase account languish, untouched for years…

But the last year has seen everyone’s interest in cryptocurrency – my own included – burn bright yet again. And this time I don’t feel like the passion is going to die down any time soon.

Andreas Antonopoulos never left my Twitter feed in all those years, so when the world-renowned blockchain expert and Let’s Talk Bitcoin co-host tweeted that his podcast was celebrating its fifth anniversary in nearby Chicago, I decided to buy a ticket right on the spot.

I entered the venerable Music Box Theatre donning my Litecoin hoodie. Part of me wondered whether that would be seen as provocative at the Let’s Talk Bitcoin show, but no negative comments came my way. The evening’s agenda was a potpourri, starting with a musical performance, followed by a talk by Andreas, and then concluding with a live recording of the podcast. That episode is live now, so I suppose you can listen to it yourself to glean some of the same knowledge in my notes below, but I figured I would share my notes from the night. Some of these are quotes from a speaker, and others are my own thoughts, inspired by what I was hearing.

Notes

  • You may find yourself confused and intimidated by the complexity of cryptocurrency, but to everyone you know, you’re the expert, says Andreas to laughs and nods of approval
  • People who invested in internet companies during the dotcom bubble may have gained or lost money, but the people who invested time and energy (instead of money) into learning how to become a web developer, etc. were/are definitely better off
  • Andreas is clearly more interested in Bitcoin than Bitcoin Cash, though he sees room for both to exist and doesn’t antagonize BCH
  • According to Andreas, “Bitcoin maximalism is centrality by another name”
  • Andreas mentioned how centralization is inevitable in everything, invoking the Pareto principle (aka the 80/20 rule)
  • Bear markets are when things get done. All Coinbase can do when tens of thousands of new users sign up every day is deal with the onslaught of customer support needs. Now that the hype has cooled, they – and other companies in this space – can return to building their products.
  • Asking if Ethereum will replace Bitcoin is like asking, “Will C kill HTML?” They are totally different things and excel at different tasks
  • No one coin will do everything. You can be the optimal payment coin but to make that happen you probably won’t ever be the optimal smart contract coin as well. The most optimally evolved sea creature is not also the most optimally evolved air creature.
  • Andreas is optimistic that someone will figure out how to make Proof of Stake work
  • Crypto is not “winner-take-all” but “winner-take-niche”
  • Learn to code for the blockchain! Contribute! Build something!
  • No, seriously, learn to code

Listen to the live recording of the episode for yourself below:

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