Is Bitcoin the Napster of Cryptocurrencies?
“Go Napster! Destroy to create!”
If you are around for more than 30 years, then the slogan above should sound very, very familiar. In 1999, a small company called Napster started a revolution. The service they provided: sharing MP3 files in a p2p network. The key word here is p2p, or peer to peer network.
Interestingly enough, Bitcoin, as a protocol, is based on the same technology: p2p.
Now, let’s take a short break here and set some things straight: p2p, as a technology, wasn’t invented by Napster, nor by Bitcoin. It was lingering around since the 70s. Yes, the protocols were there since the late seventies. Even when Napster appeared, there were already p2p sharing networks, like IRC, for instance.
But Napster, just like Bitcoin, found a desirable usage of this technology, outside of the theoretical realm of mathematics. Napster paired it with something that people needed, namely music. Or, as they called it back then: free music.
Soon, Napster ran into problems with the traditional music industry. Challenged with intellectual property lawsuits, it had to file for bankruptcy. It was acquired by Roxio and then basically disappeared.
But even if it was a very short lived appearance, Napster left deep traces. It was, for many, a symbol of freedom. And many of the promises they want to fulfill were, later on, fulfilled by other technologies, or business players. If we would only think of the BitTorrent technology, which became popular as a result of Napster being visible and vocal, and we will still have a lot to. be grateful for.
Napster disrupted the music distribution in the same way Bitcoin is disrupting finances. Only Bitcoin does this at a larger scale and with an extra ingredient: decentralization. There’s no real company behind Bitcoin and that’s what makes it a very odd creature.
Forking Bitcoin Into Its Own Future
But just like Napster in its glory days, Bitcoin is starting to get challenged. Yes, it already had its share of small copy cats, in the form of a few hundreds colored coins, but none of them had the stamina to really take off.
Until now. Backed by powerful structures, Bitcoin Cash (and, more recently, Bitcoin Gold) are starting to bite important parts from the Bitcoin pie. Miners are seriously thinking to maximize their profits, so they’re testing the new algorithms, throwing more and more hashing power into the new tokens. They invested huge amounts of money in their infrastructure and they have enormous running costs.Casual investors are looking for short term profit. Ignorants are happy when they get some “air dropped” cash. Money for nothing and the coins for free. It’s all bout profit, at the end of the day, right?
I don’t know for sure but it’s clear we’re at a crossroad. A crossroad that may mean the Bitcoin that we know may step back. And new players may step in.
It is an attack from China, Bitmain, ViaBTC, Roger Ver, Jihan Wu and all the other names named in the quasi-consiprational Twitter posts which are polarizing the Bitcoin universe for more than a year now? Well, probably. But if a fight is fought for the benefits of the larger stake, then it becomes “legit”. If Bitcoin Core can’t serve the interest of their users, then it will naturally disappear.
On the other side, if the assault ran by the players mentioned above will prove to be just a hijacking attempt, an aggressive takeover of an unsuspecting and naive user base, with the final result of centralizing the token in the hands of a few, just like banks and governments are functioning now, then the future is bleak.
This is the biggest financial battle of all times. Just last weekend, in under 2 hours, $17 billions were made and lost. That’s the yearly GDP of Bosnia and Hertzegovina.
The stake is huge and the outcome will be definitive.
Is It Over For Us, Bitcoin Early Adopters?
Well, in order to answer to that question, we should go back to Napster: Sean Parker, one of the founders of Napster (and also the first president of Facebook, and the one who, allegedly, rebranded it from TheFacebook to just Facebook) is doing quite well. According to a Forbes list in 2016, he is still worth $2.4 billion dollars.
That’s just about 1% of the entire crypto market cap now.
Not bad. Not bad at all for someone who filed for bankruptcy.
photo source: Pixabay
Initially published on Steemit.