Archive

“If destruction be our lot, we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of free men, we must live through all time, or die by suicide.

Academic projects I have contributed to


Favorite appearances

Good intros to my worldview:

Lex Fridman Podcast, Bitcoin Core Values, Layered Scaling, and Blocksize Debates, with Lex Fridman
Lengthy, beginner-friendly discussion of Bitcoin’s underlying values and the key conflicts that marked its history.

The Times Podcast, What if Bitcoin Hits $1m? with Asya Fouks
A concise, beginner-friendly introduction to Bitcoin

Bloomberg TV, Bitcoin’s Impact on the Environment
A short segment summarizing my thoughts on Bitcoin’s energy consumption

What Bitcoin Did: Beginner’s Guide, Altcoins, a History of Failure and Bitcoin FUD
Beginner-friendly introductions to the history of altcoins and bitcoin critiques


The ‘Nic Debates Bitcoin Critics’ Series

Even-keeled debates against strident critics of Bitcoin:

What Bitcoin Did, Critiquing Bitcoin with Frances Coppola & Nic Carter
Featuring economist Frances Coppola

The Grant Williams Podcast, Both Sides of the Coin: A Civilized Bitcoin Debate
Featuring HF manager Mike Green

The Verge Podcast, Is There A Future For Bitcoin?
Featuring Prof. Steve Hanke


Notable essays

A selection of my most popular essays:

A Most Peaceful Revolution (Sep. 2019)

This is undoubtedly the most popular essay I’ve ever written. It’s a call to action, a manifesto, and a reality check for Bitcoiners. This phenomenon we’re a part of is a deeply political process, and it’s not going to be an easy road. But we fight because our cause is true and just.

What Explains Bitcoin’s Resurgence (Jan. 2021)

Written for NY Magazine, this piece covers the developments in Bitcoin since 2017 and what distinguishes its rally in 2021. I focus on developments in market infrastructure, narrative shifts, novel market participants, and the stunning macroeconomic backdrop which is now powering the market. This piece is written for a mainstream audience, assuming no prior knowledge of Bitcoin.

Bitcoin at 12 (Oct. 2020)

On the occasion of the twelfth anniversary of the publication of the Bitcoin white paper, I reflect on how that remarkable document changed the course of my life, and the course of history. I discuss, for the first time, what supporting Bitcoin means to me.

Bitcoin’s Existential Crisis (Oct. 2018)

Originally titled ‘What is is like to be a Bitcoin’ as a nod to Nagel, this essay argues that Bitcoin’s apparent shortcoming – its constant struggle to retain a unitary and consistent identity – is one of its greatest strengths.

The Last Word on Bitcoin’s Energy Consumption (May 2020)

Arguably my most shared and re-shared essay. I’ve written about Bitcoin’s energy footprint several times, but this is my pithiest and most enduring piece.

How to scale Bitcoin (without changing a thing) (April 2019)

I personally consider this one of the most important things I’ve ever written. I lay out an expanded vision for Bitcoin as a settlement network for banks, building on the ideas of Saifedean Ammous, Hal Finney, and Selgin and White. I explain how ‘institutional scaling’ through intermediaries is not only possible but desirable; and how Bitcoins superior auditability makes it a superior reserve asset as compared with gold. For this to work, reintroducing Proofs of Reserve is a necessity. Since I wrote this, PoR has gained considerable currency in the industry.

It’s the settlement assurances, stupid (July 2019)

I explain that while it’s trivial to copy Bitcoin, it’s impossible to replicate its settlement quality, which is a function of revenue accruing to miners. I compare Bitcoin to alternatives on that basis, using a variety of analogies to explain the nature of finality in public blockchain systems. I encourage users to think critically about confirmation thresholds and develop some simple heuristics to assess settlement quality.

Visions of Bitcoin (July 2018)

Coauthored with Hasu. Based on a diagram idly scrawled in the space of about 15 minutes, we argue in this article that popular interpretations of Bitcoin’s teleology – its core purpose – have changed dramatically over the course of its existence. This essay is frequently cited in critiques of Bitcoin (oops!).

Bitcoin Bites the Bullet (June 2019)

In this piece, I methodically walk through five tradeoffs that Satoshi faced when designing Bitcoin, explaining one by one how it ended up with a set of apparently suboptimal tradeoffs. Invariably, there’s a good explanation for why Bitcoin is the way that it is – and why deviations from those choices are not necessarily improvements.

Après Le Déluge, Bitcoin (April 2020)

For American Mind. Written for a general audience, this essay makes the case for the existence of crypto-financial infrastructure as a neutral alternative to our existing, highly politicized financial rails.