Crypto-Comedy

Bitcoin had a good 2015, at least according to investor estimations. Already, half-way through January, the all-consuming chaos of 2016 has rolled over it.

The Bitcoin block-size spat that rumbled inconclusively throughout the previous year has escalated into a dramatic public row, with core developer Mike Hearn’s noisy exit. His text is an instant classic for the historical record, regardless of how persuasive its argument is found. The discussion at Reddit provides some sense of the controversy.

Hearn is writing Bitcoin off as a “failed experiment” — which seems histrionic, despite the many points of interest he raises. The deep tension between its security principles and its (near-term) growth prospects is a matter of evident seriousness. Taking the monkey business out of money innovation won’t be as easy as some of the crypto-currency’s more optimistic proponents had anticipated. Something of extreme historical radicality is occurring, and it’s going to be messy.

With much of the world going under in 2016, there’s likely to be a scramble for the escape capsule — and that seems to be on fire.

ADDED: Bitcoin obituaries through the ages.

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