John Biggs has a writing problem. It’s terrible.
I too know manias. I see them most often among writers who have a mania for writing even when they have nothing to say. Such is the case with John Biggs’ recent Bitcoin’s Image Problem.
First off, Bitcoin’s image problem is evident to anyone watching the mainstream media’s portrayal of BTC as the domain of drug dealers and terrorists, despite all the evidence to the contrary. Bitcoin’s image problem is one fabricated by writers like Mr. Biggs.
But let’s look at his obvious blunders. Writing students, pay attention. He claims “Its followers see themselves as freedom fighters, attacking outsiders with vengeance and talking up their own accomplishments in the language of the already victorious.“ This sentence is an assertion made without evidence, and one that ascribes a universal characteristic (freedom fighters, attacking outsiders with vengeance, etc…) to the whole of the Bitcoin user base without differentiation. Having just attended nearly every workshop and panel of the North American Bitcoin Conference on Miami Beach, I can assure you that freedom fighters, or even those claiming to be freedom fighters were scarcely to be found. And just to establish some kind of credibility here, having worked in South Africa on behalf of the ANC, I know a freedom fighter when I see one.
It is true that among some outliers in the Bitcoin community (and I do not mean any pejorative by the word outlier), one may find the overheated rhetoric of anarchists and radical libertarians. What else is new? One can hear them at any time of day on almost any subject across the radio airwaves and in the comments section of every local newspaper. No one mistakes the tin foil hats for the majority’s sensible headgear.
Biggs really goes off the rails with statements like “These incremental hoots make it seem like bitcoin is growing. It isn’t, at least not in a global sense.” To say that Bitcoin adoption is not growing on a global scale ignores the facts of what we see all around us. Ask them at Tiger Direct. Perhaps Biggs would like to say that climate change is not happening either.
And let’s look at this one: “There is no impetus for the average user to dump money into an unregulated system that appears as volatile as the currency of some banana republic run by a capricious dictator.” Funny, Latin America is where we find enormous demand for the services that Bitcoin can provide. And I would suggest Mr. Biggs drop his ever-so-gringo caricatures of our neighbors to the south.
“Finally, bitcoin users are seen as misogynistic and sexist.” That’s a handy slur. The presentation by Elizabeth Ploshay on the subject of Bitcoin and its potential for the empowerment of women at the Miami conference was one of the best attended and most lively. Not one sexist remark from the audience. Not a hoot or a whistle or a wolf-call. Should conventions such as these adopt non-harassment policies? Of course. So should every business conference in the world. (“TechCrunch learned far too late”) It wasn't Bitcoin conferences that prompted the formulation of those guidelines, they were prompted by a historically discriminatory business environment. To suggest that Bitcoin users are any more misogynistic and sexist than any other group is transparently misleading, especially as no evidence is offered.
“Unlike the Internet, there is no clear way forward, no use case that the average user will accept as valid.” Really, Mr. Biggs. You must not have been around in the early days of the internet, as I was. There was no clear way forward then either.
But perhaps you haven’t read in the history books about that time that the driving economy of the early internet, as it was with the VCR, was pornography. This inconvenient little truth kind of puts your moralistic little tome in perspective. It’s just silly, the product of yet another immature writer with a mania for writing. Here’s a suggestion from Creative Writing 101. Write What You Know.