Please re-think your approach to wider adoption...

Howdy -

I've been perusing the "Movement" page of the bitcoincard website (http://bitcoincard.org/movement.php), and I would like to offer some suggestions.  Unusual I know - ;-) - but as a professional writer (and user of bitcoin since 1/11) I may have an insight or two that could be valuable.

As an overall TL;DR I will point out that, while it gives a certain self-satisfaction, dragging people up to your level is proven not to be either as effective or as financially rewarding as lowering yourself to theirs - which is to say that a certain amount of simplification can be useful.  And profitable.

In my opinion, the best line on that long (very much too long, incidentally) page is this:

"Such deep knowledge is not necessary to the actual rider, and in the same way one can enjoy the world of Bitcoin with little more than a healthy curiosity and a bit of practice."

This is a true and easy-to-grasp statement.  Bravo.  If it had been used as the Mission Statement for the page, all would be well.  Unfortunately, less than 200 words later the dread word 'fungible' rears its ugly head.  *sigh*  Somebody should really run a 'Search and Replace' script on that one word, on every website wherein the word bitcoin appears, inserting NOTHING in its place.  Nobody cares, except the mixers.  The word is not only redundant in the extreme - I mean; calling bitcoin a currency imparts the same information: a dollar is a dollar is a dollar - but is almost designed to make an average reader feel linguistically (and therefore intellectually) inadequate.

I am quite aware of Margaret Mead's often quoted take on small groups of dedicated people being the only way the world is ever changed - and it is true.  But that's a truth which only applies to the beginnings of things: it completely fails to take into account what happens after that small group expands its reach into the world at large.  We are past the beginning of bitcoin.  Now we need wider adoption.  Therefore:

We need to be speaking to a wider audience.  Perhaps even an audience that doesn't keep a thesaurus tab open in their browser at all times.  Does this make sense?

Here, I will point out that this post is not intended to deconstruct every sentence in your 'Movement' page - I'm only offering a brief critique, and trying to get a point across.  OK?  And please forgive me if I seem a bit heated at times.  That's life on the internet, I guess.

"It is theoretically impossible to make a fake Bitcoin (to fully understand why this is true, one needs to study cryptography and fairly advanced mathematics)."

Oh good lord, stop talking down to people.  What about: "Unlike cash, Bitcoins cannot be forged."  Nobody wants to hear about theory.  Nobody wants to hear about how the energy output of an average galaxy relates to cracking SHA256.  Weaseling out of mathematical certitude is for peer-reviewed papers in "Nature Magazine."  It's MONEY.  Folks just want to buy a couple of shirts and a bong on the internet.

This is what I'm talking about:

"You don't need a name, an address, a Social Security/Slavery [n.b.:  you could remove the 'Slavery' snark] number, or any personal information of any kind. Nobody "approves" you for Bitcoin. It's free and open-source software. You get it from Bitcoin.org."

That's good.  Did more than one person write your "Movement" page?  And was it somebody else who wrote the paragraphs immediately following that quote?  More math.  More cryptography.  Bleah.

The "How does it work?" section isn't bad.

But then... politics.  I find it difficult to express my utter dismay at how politics is brought into this issue.

Oh, you "...wouldn't expect Krugman to "get it"," wouldn't you?  Allow me to inform you what the world thinks Paul Krugman 'gets'.  Mr. Krugman is a winner of the Nobel Prize - one of only 69 men in the world, and one woman, who has done so.  Mr. Krugman has a column in the New York Times with a readership (dead tree + internet) in the millions.  He is endlessly quoted, linked and discussed everywhere that people have an interest in money.  Mr. Krugman (in response to sarcastic jibes about insolvent economists) has a personal net worth that satisfactorily approaches the entire market cap of bitcoin.

That's what the world knows about Krugman.

And you, right now today, are just some guy on the internet with a website and a gadget that will be in production 'any day now.'  Forgive me - but I think a bit of humility, even if only as a recognition of political reality, might be in order here.

And then:  "As any Austrian economist can tell you..."  Jesus effing christ on a crutch.

Here:  I will roll it all up into a little ball that you can bounce down the sidewalk...

You can take every person on earth who thinks Krugman is mistaken (and by the way, I am in that camp, for what it's worth), and every person who has even *heard* of the Austrian school of economics; and if every single one of them combined decided to adopt bitcoin, bitcoin would die a slow and withering death.  That's how tiny those two cohorts are.

You are trying to sell a gadget, with the goal of increasing bitcoin adoption.  Nobody cares about your deeply-held philosophical beliefs.

Again, the "Being careful with money" section is pretty good, except:

"Concept 4 Liberty advocates love free markets."  PEOPLE love free markets, hmmm?

"Concept 5... This means under no circumstances should people invest money in Bitcoin which they cannot afford to lose."  Try to stay on the same page when you're on... ummm... the same page.  Bitcoin is money, or it is an investment commodity.  Pick one - I'd go with money - and stick with it.

Lose Silk Road.  I have no problem with it - but people who have an interest will find it.  You're trying to sell a gadget to my mother.  Silk Road does not help you to do that.  Donations and gambling (especially gambling) are great.

Just delete "Bitcoin vs. The State".  Really.  And edit "Bitcoin and Disruption" down to about three paragraphs, after re-titling it.

Please, please, please - try to keep in mind that you want adoption to increase.

In closing, I'll say this:

The only people who want revolutions are revolutionaries.  Everyone else has the innate understanding that revolutions are messy, and unpleasant, and make it tough to find a decent bottle of scotch.

The primary job of any revolutionary is to force government to take things away from people that they use and like - that is what brings a revolution to critical mass.  Always.  So it follows that - FIRST - in the case of bitcoin and its revolutionary potential, people must like it and use it.

Try to focus on that.  Let the revolution happen as it will.

Thank you.

Toni

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07/05/2012 12:07:27
Very good post.
07/05/2012 12:29:38
Toni, thank you.


This is very interesting. I will read your text attentively and will try to compile something more laconic and useful compared to what we have on the Movement page at the moment.

None of us (I mean founders of the project) speaks native English, that's why I simply placed another's texts to the Movement page (links to the original articles are at the end; I guess I should duplicate them at the beginning). There are four articles: starting from somewhat pessimistic aspect at left position of the slider, continuing to a neutral view from Wikipedia at the next slider position. Sliding further to the right one can find an optimistic article (the one that attracted most of your attention), and the very right slider position hosts an extremely optimistic view. I agree with most of the statements in these articles (well, at least in optimistic ones). But I can't correct the quotations.

But that is not the most important thing I want to share with you now. Few weeks ago I was contacted by another bitcoiner (and this site guest) who has provided me with a set of very deep thoughts why and how the bitcoin community should start working on its overall public image (currently, even the "B" logo sucks). That time he (his name is Paul) contacted me directly, so I urged him to post his text here which he promised to do after having it polished. Today I see another proof that wider bitcoin adoption needs some better strategy. Our technical solution is not enough.

Being a mere bitcoin hardware providers we are not [yet] in the position to offer ideology and/or entire bitcoin PR approach. But we do feel we should support people who have the will, time and professional ability to do this. The sooner the better. We will write to directly if you don't mind.


Regards,

Alex.

___

PS Here is another interesting text (with lots of politics though). I would really like to hear what do you think of it.




Anarchy is a theoretical social state in which there is no governing person or body, where each individual has absolute liberty (without implication of disorder). Clearly there are two kinds of leaders in this world – those who lead by incentive, and those who lead by force.
Those who lead by incentive will try to get you to voluntarily send your children to their schools by keeping their prices reasonable, their classes stimulating, and demonstrating proven and objective success. Those who lead by force will simply tell you that if you do not pay property taxes to fund their schools, you will be thrown in jail. This is, undoubtedly, the difference between voluntarism and violence.

The word “anarchy” does not mean “no rules.” Nor does it mean “kill others for fun.” It does not even mean “no organization.” It simply means: “without a political leader.”
Take dating, marriage and family, for instance. In any reasonably free society, these activities do not fall in the realm of political coercion. No government agency chooses whom you are to marry and have children with, or punishes you with jail for disobeying their rulings. Voluntarism, incentive, mutual advantage – dare we say “advertising”? – all run the free market of love, sex and marriage. What about your career? What about your major financial decisions? Did you have to apply to the government to buy a new car, a new house, a plasma television or a toothbrush?
The answer is no. In all the areas mentioned above – love, marriage, family, career, finances – we all make our major decisions in the complete absence of direct political coercion.
So, if anarchy is such an all-consuming, universal evil, why is it the default (and virtuous) freedom that we demand in order to achieve liberty in our daily lives?

If the government told you tomorrow that it was going to choose where you were to live, how you were to earn your keep, and whom to marry, would you fall to your knees and thank the heavens that you have been saved from such terrible anarchy – the anarchy of making your own decisions in the absence of direct political coercion? Of course not. Quite the opposite, you would be horrified, and would oppose such an encroaching dictatorship with all your might.
It has become quite possible to remove the phenomenon of political leadership from our everyday lives. As in any other situation, what you need is focus, focus and more focus. It is well known that power is implemented with the help of several simple tools: direct physical violence (the police, army, special services), control over information plus ideology (national television channels, religion, etc.), and, most importantly, monetary power.

The tool of direct physical violence remains today in a fairly rudimentary form (you don’t have to go back to the middle ages for examples: remember Stalin – by comparison the current powers that be in the USA are mere snot-nosed children; what can their police do against an organized civil protest?). There is no reason to fight against this tool – it will die of its own accord. There is also no sense in participating in street demonstrations, putting pressure on congress, changing politicians from bad to good. All attempts result in a change from bad to worse. As soon as we stop feeding them, they will disappear all by themselves.
As for the information authorities, the Internet has already delivered a crushing blow to all tools of official ideology. Even Christianity, whose grip on the throats of young people has only started to loosen over the past decade, is staggering. There is no point in even mentioning newer systems of mental despotism such as communism, the idea of America as “God’s country” and others.

So far things are not nearly as rosy in the area of financial and monetary power. Those who print money can, in essence, do as they please. Some do it more cleverly (like the Federal Reserve, which has been pulling the wool over the eyes of the entire world for decades now), and some not so much (like Putin in Russia, who simply hands out freshly minted roubles to his toadies). Luckily, for now all these poor bastards only operate in so-called fiat currencies (fiat money is money that derives its value from government regulation or law; the “Nixon Shock” of 1971 ended the direct convertibility of the United States dollar to gold. Since then, all reserve currencies have been fiat currencies, including the US dollar and the euro). There is no need to break a fiat currency (and, thereby, the power of its “owners” and operators). Its fall is inevitable.

According to a study of 775 fiat currencies by DollarDaze.org, there is no historical precedent of a fiat currency that has succeeded in holding its value. Twenty percent failed through hyperinflation, 21% were destroyed by war, 12% by independence, 24% fell to monetary reform, and 23% are still in circulation but approaching one of the other outcomes. The average life expectancy for a fiat currency is 27 years, with the shortest life span being one month. Founded in 1694, the British pound sterling is the oldest fiat currency in existence. At the ripe old age of over 300 years, it must be considered a highly successful fiat currency. However, success is relative. The British pound was originally defined as 12 ounces of silver, so it’s worth less than 1/200 or 0.5% of its original value. In other words, the most successful long standing currency in existence has lost 99.5% of its value. Given the undeniable track record of currencies, it is clear that on a long enough timeline the survival rate of all fiat currencies drops to zero.

So, all that is needed is to separate oneself, to escape to the greatest possible degree and in the shortest possible period, from the use of dollars and other national currencies (and, simultaneously, from banks and payment systems). We need to transition to the most technologically advanced tool currently available. Without question, this is bitcoin. By the way, this transition will double the personal fortune of each participant through the stripping away of the powerful financial attrition currently being felt by everyone (30% to direct taxes, 3-5% lost in transaction fees, 3-5% to hidden inflation tax, another 10-15% to hidden prices to support a useless financial sector).
07/20/2012 05:19:48
I like this text!

But then again, anarchy as a long way to go before been accepted. Actually, I think we will live in a market anarchy before people realize we're in one.. Thanks to tools like bitcoins and bitcoin cards :)
07/20/2012 05:15:50
Hello,

This is quite true, even if a bit harsh.

I guess the main problem is: who is this page ("Movement") talking to? Is it to the public who we will sell the cards to, or the people who will help us with that?

In the second case, yes, we should be open abut politics and economics, because yes, bitcoin has real political and socio-economic consequences.
If it's the first case, so we should go the strategy I call "poisoned apple". Bitcoin is a poison for the State and all the parasites corporations that live around it. But we have to make them bite these sweet apple before they realise it. And the power of the State comes from people's belief and faith in It. So we should forget the free markets, the anarchy, the anonymity and such to concentrate on "popular" things, like gambling, no fees, anonymous,...

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