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In safe hands: Bitcoin builds a better future

by xyonent
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Bitcoin is a young protocol by any standard. This period of its youth is perhaps more formative than any other in its short history, because the stakes are already pretty high for a groundbreaking project with less than 20 years of testing and growth. Over the past 18 months, we’ve seen new investors, developers, users, and marketers flock to Bitcoin, but the fundamental reasons why the so-called Bitcoin renaissance is so important seem to have taken a back seat.

During this time, I have been asked countless questions like, “What do you think about this new L2?” and “Does this new L2 actually work?” and most of the time, my answer has been “I don’t know.” Building on Bitcoin is hard, and many people don’t know how. So, it’s hard to know exactly what someone is building, much less whether it will work, if they don’t know what they’re doing. But this reality never discourages founders and investors from trying to make money.

So this new era of Bitcoin activity is going to be defined largely by marketing, not true innovation.

Engineering First, Marketing Second

My academic and professional background is in mathematics and cryptography, not marketing. I understand the importance of developing a strong brand for a successful product or protocol, but marketing alone is not enough, and at worst can be very dangerous. Innovative ideas need a strong foundation, not just decoration. Satoshi’s final forum post began with words that all Bitcoin builders should keep in mind: “There is still work to be done […]“Bitcoin projects fuelled by marketing are doomed to fail, to the detriment of users, investors and the community at large.”

One symptom of this dynamic is the simple lack of whitepapers. While these documents are boring and seem optional to most, whitepapers are intended as a tool to explain new ideas as clearly as possible to encourage critique, imitation, and real-world implementation. But for most of these new projects claiming to be based on Bitcoin, well-written whitepapers seem to be an afterthought. Instead, the industry landscape has become defined by marketing materials.

The signs of these types of projects are easy to spot. They often use rhetoric like “Bitcoin-powered,” “Bitcoin-compliant,” or “Bitcoin hybrid.” Often, this language is tossed around to hide the fact that these protocols are not actually built on Bitcoin. In other cases, this marketing is used to distract from the fact that no one (not even the founders) knows what they’re building, but they want to leverage the Bitcoin brand anyway.

When considering this unfortunate reality, the principle that comes to mind in the world of cryptography is “security through secrecy.” Simply put, the idea is that because no one knows how something works, it might actually be secure. Frankly, this is not something any serious engineering team should strive for.

At Botanix Labs, we are building an EVM-equivalent layer with a testnet running on Bitcoin at the time of publishing. Instead of releasing new tokens and hoping to get listed on exchanges, we are focused on building a simple and secure protocol. Instead of playing marketing games, we are focused on building an ecosystem of self-sovereign applications that people want to use.

We have begun planning for Spiderchain in late 2022.

The testnet was launched in November 2023.

We plan to release the first version of our mainnet this summer.

We believe that building is the best way to help Bitcoin succeed.

We are the Watchmen

Vetting a new Bitcoin project isn’t a task that can only be undertaken by the most experienced software engineers or cryptographers. Anyone who uses Bitcoin can and should ask simple questions:

  • “Who has the keys?”
  • “Is this Sybil-resistant?”
  • “Can the operator carry out a hostage attack?”
  • “What are the basic security assumptions?”

But all of these questions should already be answered in plain English in the whitepaper. Projects that don’t have a clear design, clearly documented security risks, and a clearly articulated analysis of tradeoffs and objectives are part of the problem. Unfortunately, this seems to be quickly becoming the norm in Bitcoin second layer environments. Botanix Labs carefully explains the protocol design, attack vectors, and more in their whitepaper. The whitepaper is our home page.

Cyberpunks write code. But the proliferation of new layer 2 Bitcoin protocols (many of which do not deserve the title cyberpunk) has forgotten this simple truth. We cannot and should not expect regulators or auditors to fix this. We, the Bitcoin community, need to focus on the long-term mission and ignore short-term gimmicks.

What you build is more important than how you market it. And for any serious Bitcoin-based project, marketing is less important than security. Standardizing this principle across all sectors of the Bitcoin industry is a responsibility shared by everyone involved with Bitcoin.

The fight against fiat money

Bitcoin is a movement, not a way to make money, and I believe we can and should do better than the ideas and projects being offered to the market in the ongoing Bitcoin renaissance. Don’t be silent. Don’t accept this behavior. Don’t expect the market to remove these bad actors on its own.

We are fighting a fiat regime that desperately wants us to fail in creating the decentralized, permissionless monetary system that will operate for centuries on Bitcoin, yet most new Bitcoin-branded projects are not thinking beyond the 12 months into the future.

In what ways does this improve the world and achieve our common mission?

Satoshi Nakamoto left the Bitcoin world, writing, “I have moved on to other things.” [Bitcoin] “Money is in good hands.” Those hands are ours, and all who care about the future of money should be vigilant to ensure that it is in good hands.

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