If you’ve been on crypto Twitter recently, chances are that you have come across some angry Bitcoin maxi not condoning JPEGs while others are having fun exploring what Bitcoin can do outside of being an inflation hedge (hard sell to the people who bought at $69k anyway).
Let’s start from the beginning.
When Bitcoin was created, it sought to be a peer-to-peer digital currency. Fast forward to today, we have a flourishing DeFi ecosystem on other chains like Ethereum but little of that on Bitcoin. It’s not even used as cash – except maybe in El Salvador, where people had little choice. Nowadays, it’s touted as a store of value, and if you want to earn some yield on it, you either give it to a centralized party (and accept you might lose it all, as Celsius has demonstrated) or you wrap it and use it on Ethereum.
Ordinals – anything but ordinary
Enter Ordinals, a protocol that enables people to add arbitrary content to a Satoshi (the smallest unit of Bitcoin; 1 BTC = 100 million satoshis). Or, put another way, create something comparable to NFTs. Yet the creator Casey Rodarmor stresses that these NFTs are actually of higher standards because all the data has to be stored on-chain, making it immutable and censorship-resistant. He also refers to them as ‘inscriptions’ rather than NFTs.
Unlike other Layer 2’s (L2s), such as Stacks that brought NFTs to the Bitcoin ecosystems, inscriptions live directly on the Bitcoin blockchain without requiring a protocol upgrade or Hard Fork. In a sense, Satoshi Nakamoto laid the foundation for them when creating Bitcoin.
NFTs on Bitcoin sound awesome, but some Bitcoiners disagree.
Why the outrage?
Blocks are limited in space; the more JPEGs are in blocks, the fewer transactions can go in. It’s like a train where only so many people fit in. And then there’s the question of node runners having to store these images forever. Bitcoiners that are all in on the payments narrative hate to see blocks full of images.
— drnick 🗳️² (@DrNickA) February 2, 2023
This is hypocritical if you consider that it was also due to the Magic Internet Money meme that the Bitcoin community grew in its early days. Nevertheless, with the demand for block space increasing, fees go brrrr, and some fear marginalized people will be unable to afford Bitcoin transactions. Bitcoin OG Adam Back didn’t hold back and outright called it stupidity.
The fun side
Maybe Adam would be helped to embrace the power of memes and its newfound utility. After all, when we hear Bitcoin, we don’t think of innovation or fun.
Other Bitcoin proponents see the positives and even created an entire project around it, sharing wizard images referencing the initial Bitcoin community meme.
A classic Reddit meme of 2013 vintage.
The recent Ordinals hype drove transaction fees to their highest in over a year and could change the social dynamics by bringing a more diverse set of people into the fold. Some of which were horny.
What had to happen happened: someone uploaded a very explicit image to Bitcoin, shown on the Ordinals website, before quickly being taken down. Such is the nature of the protocol.
Inscription 6388 on Ordinals
Yet, in good news, anyone can build their own clients and establish moderation policies. So if you, for example, only wanted to display Pepe art on your site, you could.
All in all, despite the outrage, Ordinals has managed to breathe more life into Bitcoin and made it fun again. I, for one, consider that a net positive. Now excuse me as I try to figure out minting my own.
Naomi from CoinJar
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