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The cryptocurrency industry makes a pretty big deal out a decentralization. For many, the biggest innovation the blockchain tech-backed networks likeand makes possible is the complete removal of any central power in various systems.
With its lack of company, foundation, and even founder, Bitcoin is clearly the king when it comes to decentralization. Its truly leaderless spread and evolution makes it unique in the cryptocurrency industry and that’s something that no existing or future project will be able to replicate.
True enough, We don’t know much about the Bitcoin founder (or founders) — Satoshi Nakamoto — as he pretty much disappeared after... More, whoever that may be, launched Bitcoin in 2009. Apart from the mechanics of the network itself, Nakamoto left many of the details about Bitcoin out of the original whitepaper. [Bitcoin.org]
There was no branding, no names for smaller units of the currency — no marketing plan whatsoever. With its somewhat crude initial version, the network was very much an experiment when it went live for the first time.
The elegance of Nakamoto’s system drew many interested contributors to the project. Many of these early Bitcoiners helped shape not only the code of the new currency but also the more social elements of Bitcoin.
Nuno Correia, the founder of cryptocurrency payments processing company UTrust, highlighted the decentralized way in which Bitcoin became what we know it is today via Twitter earlier this month. Even before the now legendary ‘Bitcoin Pizza Day‘ discussions about how people should denote Bitcoin as a currency in writing would help influence Bitcoin’s public image.
Curiosity: In 05/2010 the Thai Baht 🇹🇭 symbol ฿ was proposed to become the official bitcoin currency symbol and “BTC” as the 3 letter currency code. Then, with collective contribution, the #Bitcoin symbol was shaped to become how we know it nowadays. https://t.co/iXez83NNRh pic.twitter.com/CybwA00trJ
— Nuno Correia (@nunocor_) March 4, 2020
The Bitcoin Talk forum post-Correia shows a fascinating, multi-year discussion about the pros and cons of different suggestions from a varied list of contributors. Although opinions differ, social consensus eventually saw a B with two falling strokes at both top and bottom (“₿”) become the dominant way of denoting Bitcoin the currency.
Bitcoin emerged in a world that had yet to see a successful digital currency. The fact that it worked and caught the imagination of many gave it value. Although Nakamoto and others hinted that each Bitcoin might be very valuable one day, it was not built to emulate the success of anything else.
Obviously, this has not been the case with almost every subsequent cryptocurrency project since. Drawing attention to this is Bitcoin industry analyst Udi Wertheimer. Wertheimer hints that those behind Ethereum had a clear profit motive when launching the most popular smart contract platform to date.
Looking again to social aspects of actually using either digital asset, Wertheimer states that the Ethereum Foundation very much designed its own project as a centralized business would do — with a logo, branding, and clear organization behind it all.
Did you know?
Bitcoin’s logo was designed after the bitcoin software
Ethereum’s logo was designed before the Ethereum software
— Udi Wertheimer〔🧱½🎉〕 (@udiWertheimer) March 9, 2020
Similarly unimpressive for those staunchest proponents of decentralization, is the Ethereum project’s early marketing materials. As Twitter user Greg Grubles (@notgrubles) highlights, the Ethereum Foundation laid claim to their logo right from the beginning.
Despite its supposed decentralization, the Ethereum Foundation published the following document in July 2015, the same month Ethereum itself went live (via initial coin offering). It actually says that those building on the network must be approved by the Ethereum Foundation to use the project’s logo and with the words “Powered by Ethereum” alongside it.
— ungrubles (@notgrubles) March 9, 2020
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