Interesting Discussion re Centalization & the Bitcoin SHA-256 Foundation

I happened across an interesting discussion concerning the centralization problems of the Bitcoin (SHA256) Foundation along with various responses; the most interesting of which was from Gavin Andresen.

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Dan Plante
Posted Yesterday, 07:13 AM
The Foundation’s stated mandate is to standardize, protect and promote Bitcoin. Well ok, but what do those words mean in context?

I’m sure we can argue forever about the finer points, but my take is that Satoshi designed, created and gifted Bitcoin to every individual on the planet with the express purpose of freeing them and the fruits of their labour (their money) from the machinations of the political and corporate world. That is simply fact, if you read all the available info. Don’t read religious fervor into that, I’m really not the type.

Here’s the bottom line with regard to any particular money/currency/medium-of-exchange of value: it can continue to have value only while the majority of the users trust it to safeguard the output of their labour, and to transfer that to others with fidelity. If that trust is lost, Bitcoin goes to zero, and by extension every business whose bottom line is tied to Bitcoin dies along with it.

Why has Bitcoin been so successful? Why has it increased in adoption numbers and nominal price by 100x per year for 4 years now? Is it because there was always a constellation of Bitcoin based businesses that could cater to Bitcoin users? Obviously not. It has experienced this rate of growth because everyday people have put trust in the characteristics that are important to them: anonymity/privacy, unilateral control, and transmissibility without interference. But of course these characteristics (and therefore our perception of value) depend/interact solely on the software/protocol.

That said, one might reasonably assume that Bitcoin businesses would devote the majority of their resources to strengthening these features of Bitcoin that the majority insist on. One would expect corporate players to fall all over themselves funding efforts like Darkwallet and Zerocoin based on a desire for self preservation. And yet for the most part they don’t – even when it could mean their ruin. Why? Well it’s complicated, and almost exclusively due to a particular brand of personal aspiration that tends toward ego, influence, wealth and impatience.

As of August 2013, there were 43 corporate members and 800 individual members of the Foundation, accounting for 95% of all members. Also at that time, corporate contributions totaled 1,826 BTC while individual contributions amounted to 739 representing 28% of the Foundation’s bitcoin denominated assets.

There are at least 800 individual members of the Foundation now and yet at most, 2 dozen post their opinions. Most have given up having a mouth with teeth and I can’t disagree with that conclusion. Their ideals and their stake in the Foundation has been redirected and deployed almost exclusivelQuotey towards myopic corporate ends. The bylaws are tailored to wrap that up quite well. There have been no efforts of the likes of Darkwallet or Zerocoin or Jarvick’s micro-satellite constellation funded by the Foundation that I recall. And of all the 6 employees I’m aware of (minus Lindsay’s deft admin skills), the last 5 hires are exclusively lobbyist/PR/marketing hacks (no offence).

So what do y’all want to do about this? Or maybe you think this is much ado about nothing (as the incumbents will play it). I’m ok with that. Up to you. Just let me know one way or the other if you could.


PS – Patrick Murk, could you post a link to the specific statute(s) that deal with this particular issue? I read through the entirety of US Code 26 S 501 but that proved to be strictly revenue code (and kind of insane I have to say) and so it seems to be dealt with at a higher level. The Canadian legal framework seems to be structured differently and so I’m unfamiliar. Is it handled under general corporate law? Public or private? Federal or state?

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I found Gavin Andresen’s response to be rather insightful…

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Gavin Andresen
Posted Yesterday, 11:48 PM
RE: funding development:

The Foundation is paying me and Wladimir to work on core development full time.

I’m reluctant for the Foundation to dive in and become the primary source of Bitcoin development; I believe it is better to let venture capitalists, angel investors, research groups, and coders working in their spare time try lots of different things rather than have a top-down, “This Shall Be The One True Answer” approach.

Or, in other words, Linux instead of Tor  (Linux has been wildly successful, Tor is successful but I wonder if it would be more successful if the Tor Project didn’t directly pay all of the key Tor developers).

I do think there needs to be a “RedHat for Bitcoin.”  One of y’all needs to make that happen, I don’t know nuthin about creating or running that kind of business…

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