We Need More People With Skin in the Game for Bitcoin to Succeed

https://bitcoinnews.com/opinion/bitcoin-ecosystem-skin-in-the-game/

First of all, I hope January has been good for you and the first month of 2024 was a success. I’m not gonna lie; it was pretty intensive for me and felt like an eternity. Many others in the Bitcoin ecosystem might have felt that way too.

Not because I caught the January blues but because I had so much stuff to do that no end was in sight. But that’s high-level complaining; having stuff to do is always better than sitting on your couch and wasting a precious lifetime.

I’ve also had a lot of fun tasks and cool content to shoot at work. As you might have noticed, I became the face on video for Relai and sent out the weekly newsletter each Friday. Next to that, I also worked, or at the time of writing this, am still working on a few press releases and upcoming launch content for Q1 and Q2. All these things are part of my role as the Content Manager and contact for the media. 

This means I have to balance my time between creating content, researching, getting in touch with the media, and engaging within the ecosystem. But let me tell you, I love every second of it. I often imagine that this is what working in the early days of the dotcom world must have felt like. Everyone is pumped, has a gazillion ideas, and wants to succeed.

However, there is also a different side to that story. Whenever you’re deep within the industry or speaking to leaders, you realize how early we still are and that it takes 110% dedication to get the job done. You run into the same issues other industries or startups run into, and this isn’t always clear to everyone in the community.

Bitcoin has emerged because of the strong community around it, and it owes everything to it. Without it, there wouldn’t be Bitcoin. However, having that echo chamber around you is sometimes more of a curse than a blessing.

The Bitcoin Ecosystem: Social Media Is NOT the Real World

I know that some in the Bitcoin community know this and make an effort to verify the narratives we’re reading online. However, there is a majority of people who get sucked into the hype and believe whatever is out there.

This is not their fault; this is how most tribes and communities work, but it’s frustrating because you want to help out but are being hindered by the algorithms. They don’t want an open discussion or dialog; they seek confrontation and often push content in that direction.

Such a behavior often leads to unnecessary discussions, which end up confronting two worlds. One is the ideal, where Bitcoin is winning or has already won, and whatever you’re doing, you’re contributing to that victory. The second is a bit closer to reality, where you see your struggles and understand how much of an effort is going into making this work.

Again, I’m not criticizing the side that only sees everything through the orange lens because this is what we all seek. We want Bitcoin to succeed and be a net good for the world.

However, you see things differently if you have skin in the game. Granted, you must see things differently because you end up talking to people or interest groups who are not on the same page as you. Which is part of doing business. This is how you actually solve problems.

On social media, everyone seems to be a genius and knows how to solve every problem. While doing so, the community often dismisses important relationships. I’m not talking about your girlfriend or boyfriend, but actually business relationships. The best example is how we interact with the media.

Don’t get me started on how annoying it is if we read badly informed articles. It’s easy to quickly go down the FUD route and call all of these journalists or outlets idiots. However, we won’t be able to convince precoiners unless they read about Bitcoin in their favorite newspaper.

Also, from working with mainstream journalists for the past couple of months—yes, I’m in contact with a ton of them on a regular basis—they often lack the fundamentals of Bitcoin and simply don’t invest a lot of time. Once I explain the basics or settle differences by sending the right information, my experience with them has actually been pleasant.

This doesn’t mean that their article might be praising Bitcoin. In fact, they might still attack it from a different perspective, but this is healthy. We need to think more like devil’s advocates and have responses against these claims. If there are serious problems, we need to solve them and to do so, we need critical feedback.

Patience Young Padawan

OK, I get it. It’s frustrating if we read the negative press or if we always have to answer the same questions; we end up feeling that we’re getting nowhere. But let me tell you, this is how new and emerging technology has come up in the past. If it had been easy, everyone would have done it.

I know that my perspective is a bit more nuanced about this topic. The majority of my income relies on the industry and Relai as a company. I would be of no help if I sit around and be part of the hype train. Because this is not driving the company and vision we have forward. Unless I start doing more and think about all these angles, we’re not going anywhere.

One of my earliest mentors told me once that you need the patience to wait. It’s hard not to overdo everything. Especially if you want to succeed fast. But to sit down and ask yourself why the person on the other side of the screen is not getting what you’re saying and coming up with different solutions is the best way to actually grow. Not only personally but also from a business perspective.

If you read this and think that I ridicule the other half, who’s hyper-bullish and wants Bitcoin to succeed today, you misunderstand. I’m sharing my thoughts and experiences here with you because I have skin in the game, and I’m willing to go the extra mile but I do this with a different approach. I want to highlight all the weaknesses of the ecosystem and find a human way of getting critics involved.

There is no future if we call everyone an idiot or a FUDster if they critique Bitcoin. Think of all the times outsiders have called Bitcoin dead, and it has risen from the ashes like the biggest phoenix you could ever imagine. It has proven this time and time again.

We all know its huge potential, but instead of being in fight mode all the time, I think it’s time to get into Yoda mode and have a bit more patience for our critics or builders within the ecosystem. It sometimes takes a bit longer and is super hard to get the job done.

With that in mind, if you have feedback or don’t agree with me, let me know! Either on X, LinkedIn, or via email. The more we have these discussions and the better we can communicate all the different angles to the ecosystem, the faster it will grow, and we will end up in a world where Bitcoin is not the alternative anymore but rather the standard.

The post We Need More People With Skin in the Game for Bitcoin to Succeed appeared first on Bitcoin News.

In Person Connections – Bitcoin’s True Superpower

https://bitcoinmagazine.com/culture/in-person-connections-bitcoins-true-superpower

It was 12:45 a.m. on a Friday out and about in Riga, Latvia. Without going into too much detail, I was having a good time with fellow Bitcoin and Lightning folks.

I was there for the Baltic Honeybadger conference, one organized by plebs for plebs. And you could feel this! Everyone was eager to help and understand what other people in the ecosystem were doing or were there to learn.

We stood outside a bar where all the drinks were paid for with Bitcoin, and people seemed to be enjoying themselves. At that moment, I stood back, looked around, and observed what was happening. Most of us were far away from home, in a foreign town at almost 1 a.m., yet we only talked about Bitcoin and how we will use it to make the world a better place.

That’s where it hit me. Although we tend to fight on X, all while looking like absolute lunatics, in the end, we manage to agree on one thing. It doesn’t matter what your background is. For some weird reason, we tend to blend in once we meet in real life.

Meeting fellow Bitcoiners in real life, making those connections, and using the time to discuss ideas or even set up new businesses are the best things about this community. It’s also the perfect time to clear the air and have better conversations than what we have on social media.

This got me thinking: What if there is more to Bitcoin than the benefits we’re all familiar with? What if there is a secret superpower to it, one we haven’t fully utilized yet: In-Person Connections!

Social Movements Are the Backbone of Technological Progress

One of Bitcoin’s core ethos is that of the cypherpunk movement. It values logic in code above all else. Doing so eliminates human error and corruption, which have always been issues for humankind.

Cypherpunks envision a more decentralized world where everyone has total control over their identity, privacy, and online rights. Bitcoiners know how important all of these points are. However, most people don’t care that Big Tech monetizes their data.

The pioneers of the cypherpunk movement saw this coming a long time ago. Instead of keeping to themselves, they went on the offense and publicly stated their goals and ideas and why government snooping would be an issue in the future.

What might have started small quickly turned into something big, and before they knew it, a group of cypherpunks had to defend the right to encrypt in front of the Supreme Court in the U.S. The U.S. Government was so frightened by encryption that they took on a group of mathematicians and cryptographers. Imagine that!

This small group of enthusiasts built a social movement first to educate and show people why we need mass encryption and how dangerous an authoritarian state is. Out of that, they created the tools and software we now use on a daily basis. Think of PGP, HTTPS, or messengers like SimpleX.

In order for us to accept and use encryption, we had to have a social movement with which we could identify ourselves. It might not be that most people who are privacy conscious these days know of the cypherpunks, but they keep their values alive. The ideas that were planted 40 years ago still hold true today.

The same should be possible for Bitcoin. To achieve this, we as the Bitcoin community need to be more proactive and transform our online communities into more than debates online, but actually into real-world connections. Just like the cypherpunks did back in the day, we need to strengthen the social movement first, either by organizing events or by providing physical copies of essays, books, and thought pieces to read.

If we only stick to the digital realm, which is easier because Bitcoin is digital through and through, we miss out on many great chances to strengthen the social movement. Or even worse, we fall victim to the ever-increasing censorship mechanism we see online.

Breaking Free of the Algorithms and Gatekeepers on Social Media

Most Bitcoin debates occur online, either on X, nostr, or in other chat-based forums. This is part of the day-to-day life for most of us as we seek to engage with all our friends online.

However, this comes with an enormous sacrifice for most of us. We have to play according to the rules of these platforms, which means we get gate-kept, censored, or, in some cases, even blocked.

Our biggest issue is being kept out of the loop or not reachable to people looking in from the outside. Sure, there is always the argument that people can go the extra mile and find other sources or ways to engage.

The sad truth is that only some do. Regular people don’t take the extra steps to read a different source or go to a platform other than the social media site they’re used to. If there is a one-stop solution, they’re most likely to use that.

One step to solve this is to use Bitcoin-friendly places like nostr. Not only because you can experience Lightning through Zaps but also because it’s a protocol where users can decide how they want to engage.

Currently, it might be the best solution to onboard everyday people and show them the differences between open protocols and closed platforms. However, we’re exchanging time for something digital. Getting users on will take a lot of effort from the community and nostr builders.

Luckily, we’ve had a secret superpower for a long time, and I believe we’ve not been using it to the best of our abilities. We need to do better and connect with as many people as possible in real life!

ABC – Always Be Connecting with Fellow Bitcoiners

Thus far, we established that Bitcoin needs more real-life connections to break free from digital censorship and to make it more accessible to people worldwide.

One way of doing so is to use places like nostr, connect with as many people as possible, and move the conversation from a digital dialogue to a physical one. Either by organizing an event, attending a conference to strengthen that bond, or heading out to town and trying to orange pill people.

All of that can be organized on social media or online, but it’s tricky. Some people might not be comfortable sharing where they are or strictly use their profile to help spread the message in a particular matter.

This is where the Bitcoin Social Layer comes in. I am a big fan of the Orange Pill App, a dedicated app to meet Bitcoin’s nearby and engage with them directly. The idea is not to spend your day endlessly scrolling in the app but rather to actually find people nearby, connect, and find a place to meet in real life. It takes the digital realm out of the equation and only uses the app to show you Bitcoiners nearby.

Because you already know that all users on there are Bitcoiners and want to help the ecosystem out, there is no need to make small talk or try to figure out if the person you’re engaging with wants to meet. Most users on OPA are engaging to meet fellow plebs. Personally, I love using OPA at conferences because it facilitates meeting fellow visitors and potentially meeting connections in real life.

I also like such apps to do some orange pilling both for merchants and private people. I can show a small business that there is a large group of potential customers around. All they need to do is to accept Bitcoin or, even better, get on the app and engage.

The same applies to people who have yet to embark on the journey down the rabbit hole. If they can see fellow Bitcoiners nearby, possibly even find plebs who share similar interests, and get on board this way, the whole community benefits by expanding with local Bitcoin hubs.

We need such bridges between the digital and physical worlds right now. The Bitcoin movement is silent; it grows in the background, and I believe it’s time to put it upfront and make it available to as many people as possible.

This is a guest post by Joël Kai Lenz. Opinions expressed are entirely their own and do not necessarily reflect those of BTC Inc or Bitcoin Magazine.

Why The Creator Economy Needs To Run On Bitcoin

https://bitcoinmagazine.com/culture/why-the-creator-economy-needs-to-run-on-bitcoin

This is an opinion editorial by Joël Kai Lenz, a professional content writer focused on Bitcoin and the Lightning Network, and host of the “Rabbit Hole Stories” podcast.

In my previous life, as a professional in the legacy digital media world, I used to sit below a giant neon light. I didn’t particularly like the look of the light, but I loved its message. It was a quote by Steve Jobs.

You may have heard or even seen the quote online. It’s the last few words of a famous Apple commercial, where Jobs spoke to society’s outsiders:

“The people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do.”

In my earlier internet days, when I spent hours changing the CSS of my Myspace page, I was always fascinated by creators. For some weird reason, I resonated with them. Not because I’m particularly creative but because I liked their approach: You’ll get rewarded if you’re courageous enough and take on risks. Or, in Bitcoin terms, if you put in the proof of work, you will get rewarded.

However, my work wasn’t rewarding anymore. Although I was the misfit in my group — the only one who didn’t graduate in media studies or journalism — I still found a way to blend in. But that was the issue, I blended in and didn’t challenge the people reading my stories. I was just another one of these tech-bro writers who didn’t question anything.

Luckily, I was a contractor, and as long as I pitched stories with unique angles, my editor let me pursue other avenues, outside of the typical tech-bro coverage. He encouraged it, as long as I put in the same effort as I did before. That day, I looked at the neon sign and told myself: You know what? I’m going to take a closer look at changing the word by telling more personal stories, and joining the creator economy myself!

The Problem With The Creator Economy

This was in 2018. TikTok was just starting, Facebook wasn’t involved in as many scandals yet, and YouTube was, in my opinion, at its peak. I felt that on these many emerging platforms, there must be the chance to support myself as a creator and tell the stories that I wanted to tell.

Also, because most of the creator economy was digital, I was sure to run into someone else who was into Bitcoin. After all, it’s magic internet money, and these people have to get paid or want to use this new form of money to their advantage. At least, that’s what I told myself.

Not only was I wrong, but I was also disappointed to find out that there were no creators out there who had an issue with how the creator economy was run. Once you got a peek behind the curtain, you realized that most of these prominent creators were captured by talent agencies.

The deeper I dug, the quicker I realized that there are two currencies in that world. The first currency is the connections and people who you know. The second one was the U.S. dollar. Although I mainly spoke to European creators, all of them told me that they have to obey their audience, and the majority of that audience was in the U.S.

Therefore, the only real currency most of them valued was the U.S. dollar. If they did a good job, their agents could introduce them to better opportunities, and in the end, they would get paid more, all at the whim of Big Tech and payment providers such as PayPal or Stripe.

The number of creators who didn’t want to work with a talent agency or get paid in other currencies was almost nonexistent. Also, remember, this was right after the peak of the 2017 ICO bubble. All of the crypto creators I spoke with got paid in shitcoins that went bust and at that point were not open to accepting anything else but fiat money.

The goal of my pivot to tell more personal stories through the creator economy was to find people who would embark on their quirkiness, question the status quo, and maybe even use bitcoin as an alternative to the fiat system. After 18 months of hard work, attempting to join the creator economy and become empowered to deliver quality content directly to audiences, not much had changed. It seemed as if all of the “creators” were still forced to act in the interest of big agencies or promoteshitcoins to get ahead in their careers.

Subscriptions Have Destroyed The Internet

Like the monetary system at large, the creator economy is also broken and desperately needs a fix.

The main problem that these creators have as relayed to me in my research is their reliance on centralized entities, whether they be the agencies representing them or the gatekeepers online that define what’s morally good or evil. Just like so many other things online, the creator economy is rigged.

Not because the participants decided to rig it, but because they’re part of a controlled environment that likes to possess everything. The best example of this is the subscription model with big media companies.

I get forwarded a ton of Financial Times articles daily. Unless I use a tool to get around the paywall, I must subscribe to the newspaper to read even just one article.

Media outlets require recurring subscriptions for even a single piece of content because they need a steady income stream to facilitate content production, but they also seem to rely on people forgetting what services they signed up for. Many people won’t cancel a subscription, even if they only read one article. You never know when you need it again, so why bother canceling?

That thinking has allowed centralized payment providers to obtain a monopoly on the internet and lock users in for eternities. The same applies to content creators, because they have to play by these rules or offer their content for free, hoping that advertisers recognize them and pay them. Spoiler alert: they never do and they abuse creators just as much as companies abuse customers through subscriptions.

Lightning And Bitcoin Change The Game

Now, this is where Bitcoin and the Lightning Network come into play.

They allow creators to monetize every single piece of content online, whether that be a blog post, video or even a poll. Lightning enables us to interact differently with content. Users won’t have to subscribe to read one article, they can simply pay for that single article on a case-by-case basis.

And this is all without needing to enter card details — just take your phone out or use a web-based wallet, send some sats, and off you go. This incentivizes readers to curate content and their time spent online differently. Instead of blindly subscribing in the hopes of choosing the right service, they can engage with creators and have their voices heard more directly.

You already see this online with places like Nostr or through podcasting 2.0, where people are getting paid directly without a middleman, and followers can voice their support or concern with their sats. Compared to the current model, where users are the product 99% of the time, this new model (which will take some time to flourish) puts the users first, which is crucial.

This model enables everyone online to take part in a better creator economy. It could potentially also lift the barriers you see online these days. To get monetized on a platform like YouTube, you need a minimum number of subscribers and view count, all in favor of YouTube because it can gather data on their audiences, used to show them ads later.

Creators of the Lightning or “Value4Value” economies won’t need YouTube because they only need to offer the content in places where zapping or Lightning infrastructure exists. They could also create content with certain paywalls in mind. A good example would be a book where the author requests payments per chapter instead of for the whole book at once.

These approaches would increase the content quality — after all, you would need to create better content and keep followers entertained to send sats — but it would also increase the financial relationships that creators have with the web as a whole. They’ll be in charge of where and when their funds are released. There will be no more need to wait for biweekly payments with high fees, they can just create invoices and send it to their wallets of choice.

It’s a crazy idea to go against the current tide. However, as Jobs stated in that Apple commercial, it’s the crazy ones who change the world. Bitcoiners are crazy enough to challenge not only central banks and fiat money but also content monetization online.

Therefore, if you speak to a creator friend of yours and they complain about not getting paid, show them how Lightning works, explain what Value4Value is all about and how they can start today.

This is a guest post by Joël Kai Lenz. Opinions expressed are entirely their own and do not necessarily reflect those of BTC Inc or Bitcoin Magazine.