“The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the electricity and computing power of patriots and revolutionaries.” — Thomas Jefferson (if he were alive today)
It’s about Liberty
Most of the world’s money is fiat money. Fiat is a dirty word. Its usage is rooted in phrases like “by Royal fiat” as in, by Royal command.
While we may think that we tossed off the shackles of ‘rule by fiat’ from monarchies and dictatorships, we still comfortably refer to our money as “fiat”. It is, after all, printed on-demand by a handful of people whenever they wish. This point shouldn’t be taken lightly because the power of monetary policy is the power to destroy the world. Time and time again societies have been brought to their knees because of fiat money. We are all still living under rule by fiat.
10 years ago, Bitcoin launched a practical and non-violent revolution that began in living rooms with the goal of liberty from rule by fiat. Bitcoin forms, as the US Constitution says, “a more perfect union” because it eliminates a closed middleman (rulers) that can arbitrarily control our world and replaces it with math and computation that is open. It replaces a system that can be abused at anytime by those in power, with a system that has rules that change slowly or never and is open to everyone to participate in its existence.
But for this to work, Bitcoin demands that we work together. Massive distributed computing is needed to power and validate transactions and secure the Bitcoin network. By definition, this computing power needs to be decentralized and distributed, to ensure that no one party (or cartel) has enough of the computing power to take over.
We call this aspect of Bitcoin and crypto — its true purpose — “Liberty Crypto”. Liberty is not freedom from each other, Liberty is freedom from a central authority. In fact, Liberty thrives when we work directly with each other and that’s how Bitcoin and crypto thrive. And by working directly together we can be free of fiat rule. That is the Living Room Revolution.
Lightning & the Living Room Revolution
Part of what makes Bitcoin so different than the existing financial system is that it is powered by a permission-less network of decentralized actors who voluntarily contribute to make the network work. At the same time, however, for most of the last decade, the tools to participate in providing Bitcoin and other crypto networks with security and liquidity were limited to those who could afford and manage complicated hardware and software setup.
But, in 2019, we’re witnessing the emergence of a new generation of plug-and-play products that dramatically reduce those barriers to entry. For our part, we’ve strived to build Coinmine so it’s easy enough for anyone to help power a revolution of money and information right from their living room. Our mission is to make gaining liberty over our information and money as easy as plugging in a sleek device and tapping an app.
One of the best expressions of this new era of liberty is the rise of the Lightning Network.
Lightning is a layer 2 technology built on top of Bitcoin, and designed to enable people to use their BTC to make…well, lightning fast p2p transactions with almost zero transaction costs. The real promise of a digital world where a $5 coffee doesn’t come with a 10% credit card processing fee.
Lightning, again, needs us to work together. It is powered by a distributed network of payment channels. But to reach its goal, Lightning is going to need a lot of channels. The Lightning Network facilitates Bitcoin payments by routing them through those networks of payment channels. In other words, it replaces older, centralized payment rails with a network of people running nodes and maintaining channels. It is people — individuals like you and me — who relay transactions and provide liquidity to the network. The more nodes & channels there are, the more liquidity in the network, the cheaper the transactions, but most importantly, the greater the liberty as the network becomes harder and harder to control by one party. We are building a new financial and monetary system, together. That is Liberty.
At the beginning of 2018, there were only a handful of nodes, running a small number of channels. Today, just over a year later, there are some 6000+ nodes, running over 27,000 channels with 698 million Satoshis (698 BTC) in capacity (in fiat that’s a few million USD). This is happening despite teams behind some of the important implementations of Lightning, like Lightning Labs, cautioning that the technology is still very nascent and people shouldn’t put very much in their channels.
The Lightning Network is the Living Room Revolution playing out before our eyes, and from our homes.
The ROI Of The Living Room Revolution
Much of this piece is about the ethos of powering crypto from home, and why participating in activities like running a Lightning node is not just about financial return, but about having a hand in ushering in a new world of sovereign liberty over money and information.
Part of the genius of Bitcoin and other crypto economic systems, however, is that their economic incentives are designed such that a party doesn’t have to even care about this ethos to be rewarded for participating in the network.
In short, if an asset like Bitcoin, with its supply capped at 21 million, reaches escape velocity and becomes adopted as digital gold or an even more robust digital money system, early miners, holders and Lightning routers, will be well rewarded. Indeed, many would argue that even the last person to adopt Bitcoin will be rewarded, relative to the fiat system which diminishes the value of their currency as it inflates. For everyone who adopts before that, however, the benefit is even greater.
The practical effect of this system design is that the advocates of the Living Room Revolution — those believers motivated by more than money who power crypto by doing things like running Lightning nodes and mining — have as an ally the power of economic self-interest. The revolutionaries are required to make sure that the network stays decentralized and doesn’t re-consolidate around a small group of entities, capital and hash power. The massive financial opportunity inherent in Bitcoin and other crypto assets creates a positive economic feedback loop that can help those assets reach escape velocity.
The first wonder of the digital world.
We believe that this Living Room Revolution, if successful, will be the first wonder of a new world.
But success is far from guaranteed. Today, far too many of the conversations about mining, staking and running nodes revolves around short-term economic ROI. While this is not financial advice, our modeling shows that the economic ROI for being a part of the Living Room Revolution is more likely in the long term than short term outlook.
Despite the potential financial rewards, the decision to power crypto from home is much more than financial. Fundamentally, it is about building a new world that is outside the power of domineering institutions and which instead enshrines the liberty of sovereign individuals voluntarily and collectively working together for something better.
It is Liberty over fiat.
It is the Living Room Revolution.
Thanks to Nathaniel Whittemore