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Satoshi, Spartacus, And The "Creation Myth"

Tyler Durden's picture




 

The news last week that bitcoin's founder had been sort-of/maybe/not-so-much “found” got ConvergExs's Nick Colas thinking about the importance of creation myths in business and economics. A key part of bitcoin's current appeal is anonymity, so the fact that the digital currency’s inventor is unknown highlights that central value proposition. The tech industry is full of creation myths that resonate with both general social messages and specific business models.  Hewlett and Packard, Jobs and Woz, Page and Brin – all began their businesses in garages, showing that anything is possible with a great idea. However, as Colas details below, the truth behind all these stories is, of course, far more complex than the idealized creation myths we tell about them.

The bitcoin story is the same, but with a twist.  It may be the first business/economic creation myth where technology, rather than a human, is the star of the show. As Colas concludes, in a decentralized and tech-driven world, we are all Spartacus.

Via ConvergEx's Nick Colas,
 
“In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.”  That, of course, is the first line of Genesis.  It follows the rule all good journalists know by heart: don’t bury the lead (except they call is a lede – don’t ask).  God made everything, and the next 26 verses outline the famous six days of creation.  In Chapter 2, you get Adam and Eve; Chapter 3 gives us the banishment from Eden.  In just a few hundred words, you essentially get the story of everything on planet Earth in one tidy story of creation.  Done and dusted, as the saying goes.
 
Creation myths, of which Genesis is perhaps the most famous example, explain a society’s central values.  In religion, they outline the supernatural forces at work in creating our world.  In business, creation stories reinforce the role of the individual as a societal agent of change and speak to a core audience of customers.  They are the bedrock for what marketers call “Brand” and the source waters for Wall Street’s “shareholder value”.
 
Consider the following examples of business creation myths:

Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard built their first product in 1939 – an innovative audio oscillator – in Packard’s garage. The two had met at Stanford University – both were on the football team.  The company they formed, using their two names, survives to this day.

 

Fast forward to 2006, and two other Stanford alums named Larry Paige and Sergey Brin set up shop in a Menlo Park, CA garage just 2 miles from the site of the Hewlett and Packard’s original location.  The only difference: they already had $1 million in seed funding for Google, versus the $500 HP had when they started to ship their first product.  That would be $8,400 in today’s money.

 

Eleven miles from the HP garage sits 11161 Crist Drive is Los Altos CA.  This is where Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak started Apple Computer in 1976.  Don’t go looking for it under that address, however – the house number is now 2066.  And yes, the garage is still there too.

 

In Facebook’s creation story as told in the movie The Social Network, Mark Zuckerberg gets dumped, gets drunk, and decides to build a ranking site for Harvard students.  The truth is, apparently, not as clean.  No girlfriend involved, but a good story nonetheless.

 

Some 20-somethings have a dinner party in San Francisco in 2005.  The host, Steve Chen, and others take amusing videos during the evening.  Unable to find a place to host them online, the host builds Youtube.  In a 2006 Time interview with Chen reveals some fuzziness about this narrative, but – again – a great creation myth totally in concert with how many users still engage with the site.

All these commercial creation myths share two common factors: humble beginnings and individuals with a vision to make something new.  When they succeed, we celebrate their foresight and dedication.  The success of a Steve Jobs or a Hewlett/Packard is an integral part of how we view a capitalist and free society – the doors of opportunity are open for anyone with a good idea and a lot of persistence.  Yes, the tech-focused world of the 21st century may distribute its wealth with increasing asymmetry.  As long as you have a garage, however, you may still have a shot at success.
 
At the same time, we are in the middle of a societal reset on the garage-and-a-dream creation myth, for consider the events of the last week in bitcoin.  We’ve been writing about this online crypto-currency for the last year, largely because we think that its rise to prominence says a lot about how society’s relationship with technology has evolved in the last few years.  The latest storyline that proves out this thesis goes like this:

On March 6th, Newsweek published an article which claimed that bitcoin’s inventor was a 64 year old Californian named Dorian Nakamoto.  His original name was Satoshi, and that is the name used by the author of the posting outlining the structure and coding behind bitcoin five years ago.  Everyone from journalists to bitcoin’s earliest adopters believed Satoshi Nakamoto was pseudonym, so it came a shock that he was relatively easy to find and that Newsweek, rather than a tech publication, could identify him.

 

Anonymity has been a part of bitcoin’s core value since inception.  Having an untraceable founder fit very well into its own creation myth: that technology can engender a level of public trust if it is open and accessible to anyone with the skills to operate it.  It doesn’t matter that you can’t talk to man or woman who wrote the original code.  Read it for yourself and, if you like it, run it for free.  If not, don’t.

 

Bitcoin’s creation myth stands in stark contrast to institutions like the U.S. Federal Reserve.  Founded in 1913 as a response to the Panic of 1907, its basic framework was set at a secret meeting of key bankers and Senator Nelson Aldrich.  The setting – a remote island of the coast of Georgia.  Participants got there in trains with the windows blacked out to prevent anyone seeing who might be aboard.  Oh, and Aldrich’s daughter was married to a prominent member of the Rockefeller family.  And he was Treasurer of the Freemasons chapter in Rhode Island.  Yes, the Fed has become more open in the last century, but as far as creation myths go, it is about as open as a bank vault at midnight.

A funny thing happened to bitcoin’s price in the days after Newsweek “Outed” Nakamoto: nothing much.  On March 6th, it was trading for $660-680 – about $8.1 billion in total value.   As I write this note, it goes for about $640.  That might sound like a large move, but in bitcoin land that is equivalent to an afternoon nap.  Bitcoin’s founder has, by some accounts, 6% of all the currency as a legacy of his early involvement.  This is not a liquid market, and that much visible supply should have depressed prices further.
 
And then there is the man himself, who now denies any involvement with bitcoin.  He hustles reporters for lunch. He likes model trains.  And, perhaps the most damning bit in the youth-oriented tech culture of today, he is 64 years old.  At least his house appears to have a garage, tucked in at the back of the modest property.  Aside from that, however, his oddball reclusiveness is distinctly at odds with the standard creation myth so many others have successfully travelled.
 
And therein lies the lesson from the last week: there’s a new myth in town, and it’s not about people anymore.  Bitcoin’s power to hold the imagination of its users has nothing to do with its creator.  The price action tells you that.  If Newsweek’s man is really THE Satoshi, no one cares that he likes model trains and appears a bit confused.  And if he isn’t, no one seems to care either.
 
That’s not to say that the standard “Person with a dream and garage” creation myth is obsolete.  We’ll always love the plucky underdog with a clever idea.  Rather, our faith in technology has reached a Gladwell-style tipping point, at least for some ideas.  Bitcoin may be early to this new approach to the business creation myth, but it certainly won’t be the last.  The next big thing – especially in peer-to-peer systems – may well come from a garage.  You just won’t know who is inside.

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Tue, 03/11/2014 - 18:06 | 4535910 fonestar
fonestar's picture

SATOSHI YOU ARE EVERYTHING WE HOPED YOU WOULD BE AND WE LOVE YOU!!

Tue, 03/11/2014 - 18:08 | 4535919 DoChenRollingBearing
DoChenRollingBearing's picture

.

I saw what you did there!  :)

Tue, 03/11/2014 - 18:12 | 4535928 Deathrips
Deathrips's picture

Youtubes acting funny. Videos start then stop 5 seconds in.

 

RIPS

Tue, 03/11/2014 - 18:16 | 4535944 fonestar
fonestar's picture

Youtube always acts funny whenever fonestar comes around.

Tue, 03/11/2014 - 18:18 | 4535954 Deathrips
Deathrips's picture

"Everybody funny, Now you funny too"

GT & DD

 

False alarm...working again. whew...diversity buddy.

 

RIPS

 

 

Tue, 03/11/2014 - 18:47 | 4536055 g'kar
g'kar's picture

You crack me up.

Tue, 03/11/2014 - 18:51 | 4536064 giggler321
giggler321's picture

Double O - No!

Tue, 03/11/2014 - 21:59 | 4536804 RaceToTheBottom
RaceToTheBottom's picture

You act like a child.  The world does not revolve around you.  You are not the center of every event.

 

Come back when you have reached 24

Tue, 03/11/2014 - 22:34 | 4536960 fonestar
fonestar's picture

fonestar's PAL reached 24... 11 years ago.

Tue, 03/11/2014 - 23:32 | 4537162 RaceToTheBottom
RaceToTheBottom's picture

I'm sorry

Wed, 03/12/2014 - 04:08 | 4537629 old naughty
old naughty's picture

i take it you mean you're older...

but not enough to create XXXcoIn?

Tue, 03/11/2014 - 18:10 | 4535922 jimmytorpedo
jimmytorpedo's picture

Well, if you say it in bold caps, I guess I better agree with you.

Tue, 03/11/2014 - 18:12 | 4535931 fonestar
fonestar's picture

fonestar doesn't say it... he spraaaaays it...

Tue, 03/11/2014 - 18:16 | 4535942 SgtShaftoe
SgtShaftoe's picture

I don't begrudge you for supporting Bitcoin like a fanatic.  Somebody needs to, but your fonestar character is certainly annoying sometimes. 

Tue, 03/11/2014 - 18:17 | 4535949 fonestar
fonestar's picture

fonestar and his RSBT was deliberately programmed this way.

Tue, 03/11/2014 - 21:39 | 4536725 mjcOH1
mjcOH1's picture

"I don't begrudge you for supporting Bitcoin like a fanatic.  Somebody needs to, but your fonestar character is certainly annoying sometimes. "

 

Fonestar.

Bob Dole.

As Bob Dole would say, "Bob Dole notices how you never see Bob Dole and Fonestar in the same room."

Coincidence?  Or would Bob Dole say, "Bob Dole is sick of Fonestar's shit, too."?

Tue, 03/11/2014 - 22:49 | 4537014 fonestar
fonestar's picture

fonestar is recommended by doles everywhere.

Tue, 03/11/2014 - 22:06 | 4536827 TheHound73
TheHound73's picture

fonestar, give ZH a little break and please come fuck with the trolls on /rBitcoin.

http://www.reddit.com/r/Bitcoin/comments/206in3/dont_invest/

 

Tue, 03/11/2014 - 22:44 | 4536991 fonestar
fonestar's picture

 

 

fonestar is one of the good, old posters on Zerohedge.  He is a devotee of Bitcoin and a virtual Pez Dispenser of craptoshi.

He will never leave.

Wed, 03/12/2014 - 05:09 | 4537665 Schizophasic
Schizophasic's picture

So you are sort of like HSV-2, then.  Makes sense, I suppose.

Wed, 03/12/2014 - 02:00 | 4537514 Ralph Spoilsport
Ralph Spoilsport's picture

RSBT - "Respiratory Syndrome during Barn Threshing".

Tue, 03/11/2014 - 19:51 | 4536310 dontknowcrapabo...
dontknowcrapabouteconomy's picture

a true revenge of the nerds

if you're not with us...well, it just means your IQ is not up there

Tue, 03/11/2014 - 20:07 | 4536373 zionhead101
zionhead101's picture

Funny foney you are TYLER, there is no doubt in my mind.

But what perplexes me is to what you will do to protect the SatoshiNNN, name

I suggest everyone here register a 'satoshiNNN' name and have a ball and see how many hours before the fonestar tyler's close it down.

*

BITCOIN is a BIT-FUCK pure and simple ran by criminals, and hyped by moron's.

Who is SATOSHI, I think at this point he is many people, ... long ago there may have been one satoshi, but the HERD took over and created this MYTH, ... an illusion of easy wealth and power.

The USD currency reserve has murdered over 100 Million since 1910, ... if & when BITCOIN start's killing millions of people for POWER, then it might get some repect until then it is the currency of MAN-TWATS, just like OBAMA.

 

Tue, 03/11/2014 - 22:47 | 4537009 fonestar
fonestar's picture

Dumb fucks like yourself are going to be left in the dustbin of history.  A sorry relic and reminder of when one's currency did have to murder, rape and rob to "get some respect".  If fucking morons like yourself never get Bitcoin that is nothing we will ever be sorry about.  We've been doing just fine and getting rich without you simple fucks.

Wed, 03/12/2014 - 01:44 | 4537484 Mercuryquicksilver
Mercuryquicksilver's picture

Is BTC about "getting rich" or creating an independent stable currency? Seems if someone is getting rich then someong is getting poor.

Wed, 03/12/2014 - 01:54 | 4537506 Tapeworm
Tapeworm's picture

You say "fuck" too much. That is unbecoming of such genii that are bitcoiners.

 Please clean up you foul postings.

Wed, 03/12/2014 - 05:17 | 4537675 Schizophasic
Schizophasic's picture

Yes.  fonestar should listen to the pure and clear message of Gentleman Jim and the rest of the crew of Crucial Youth.  If You Curse, You're The Worst.

Remember, Cross At The Green (Not In Between).

Tue, 03/11/2014 - 18:08 | 4535917 DoChenRollingBearing
DoChenRollingBearing's picture

There is a new guy, "OROBTC" over at https://bitcointalk.org/index.php who is asking some of these kinds of questions that we newbs to BTC might have.

OROBTC happens to like gold as well,,,

Tue, 03/11/2014 - 18:09 | 4535920 fonestar
fonestar's picture

Bitcoin is a flower, you've got to let it grow.

Tue, 03/11/2014 - 18:11 | 4535925 McMolotov
McMolotov's picture

Let it blossom, let it flow...

Tue, 03/11/2014 - 21:43 | 4536752 mjcOH1
mjcOH1's picture

"Let it blossom, let it flow..."

 

Just watch the seeds when you role that sucker into a giant doobie.   And never drink the bong water.

Tue, 03/11/2014 - 18:12 | 4535926 jimmytorpedo
jimmytorpedo's picture

Bitcoin is like a box of choclates.

You never know what you're gonna get.

Tue, 03/11/2014 - 18:19 | 4535955 McMolotov
McMolotov's picture

If it's Chinese chocolate, you'll get the runs.

Tue, 03/11/2014 - 18:38 | 4536024 BlackChicken
BlackChicken's picture

Can we use BTC to buy Hot Pockets anywhere yet?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N-i9GXbptog&feature=youtube_gdata_player

Tue, 03/11/2014 - 21:13 | 4536607 Son of Captain Nemo
Son of Captain Nemo's picture

If that's a "flower" -the bloom is off that rose and it's dropping diseased petals like it's in the tertiary stages of a gonorrhea outbreak...

+100 jimmyt

Tue, 03/11/2014 - 18:15 | 4535937 john39
john39's picture

more like a tumor.   extremely naive to think that a digital currency is not exactly what that the global elite are working towards.  it would be a final nail in the coffin as far as freedom goes.  all transactions monitored, recorded and tracked.

is bitcoin the final product, or just a test run?  doesn't really matter.   it is not the answer for freedom.  other way around.

Tue, 03/11/2014 - 18:19 | 4535956 fonestar
fonestar's picture

Oh, they would love a digital one world currency john39.  But one that they control and issue.

Tue, 03/11/2014 - 18:22 | 4535960 john39
john39's picture

if its digital, they will control it, regardless of appearances.  taxpayer-slave funded super computers can a lot of things in the vitual world.  

Tue, 03/11/2014 - 18:23 | 4535966 fonestar
fonestar's picture

In terms of computational power we've got them far, far outdone already.

Tue, 03/11/2014 - 18:28 | 4535976 john39
john39's picture

you forgot your sarc tag.   the public has no idea the level of technology secretly developed and held back by the military/banking/pharma complex.

Tue, 03/11/2014 - 18:51 | 4536066 BTCTalks
BTCTalks's picture

fonestar might have something here. Last I heard, the total computational power of the bitcoin ecosystem was greater than the worlds largest 600 supercomputers combined and growing everyday. Not saying its impossible that .gov has more computing power but if they do, they won't for very much longer.

Tue, 03/11/2014 - 19:25 | 4536194 commander gruze?
commander gruze?'s picture

I think this guy has cleared the issue sufficiently:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yWTQgmCuiCw

"Plus, this would actually require government that can do IT. Go checkout healthcare.gov" Champion.

Tue, 03/11/2014 - 19:27 | 4536202 fonestar
fonestar's picture

Actually, the whole Bitcoin thing has gotten fonestar thinking... If perhaps the Bitcoin phenomenon has got TPTB themselves thinking if they would really want a totally digital currency after all?  Just look at the sentiment on this board as an example.  The people here believe that dollars are real and Bitcoins are digital.  It would seem that allowing Joe Sixpack to feel some cotton rectangles in his pocket goes a long ways towards maintaining the illusion and control.

Tue, 03/11/2014 - 20:39 | 4536513 frenzic
frenzic's picture

The people here are not brought up like the binary thinking kids of today. The people here also have some experience.

Tue, 03/11/2014 - 22:37 | 4536971 fonestar
fonestar's picture

fonestar thinks you mean that the people here have experience being ripped off their whole lives and then bitching when somebody develops a solution to that.

Wed, 03/12/2014 - 05:30 | 4537685 Schizophasic
Schizophasic's picture

The problem with bitcoin is the whole of the blockchain is traceable, are not all transactions logged?  "Relayed by IP" and debug.log by node.  It might be true that you can use a VPN, but then you have to ask if you can wholly trust the provider of said VPN.  What might be suitable for trading wavpacks of Black Sabbath may not provide enough anonymity for large-scale financial transfers, no?

 

Tue, 03/11/2014 - 18:24 | 4535962 SgtShaftoe
SgtShaftoe's picture

The government wants their virtual currency.  A crypto currency developed by the gubmint would have the following features:

 

  • Central revocation authority to strip dissidents, enemies etc. of their identity and currency
  • Ability to increase money supply at will to fund the government - ideally in a hidden and covert way (double-spend)
  • The currency would enrich the banking interests at a faster rate than the current fiat system
  • Automatic taxing authority feature

What did I miss?

No.  Bitcoin does not match with the agendas of those in power.  The IMF SDR however does...

Tue, 03/11/2014 - 18:27 | 4535973 fonestar
fonestar's picture

Ironically, the Canadian government's (stillborn?) solution, "MintChip" offered $50,000 worth of gold bullion for the winner of MintChip's user advertising contest.

Tue, 03/11/2014 - 18:31 | 4535988 john39
john39's picture

i suspect that the next stage is about officially transferring control over finance away from national governments...  yes, that is already basically true, but the bankers still have to put up with the appearance of national sovereignty.  and managing the system is quite complex.  and there is always the risk that some country or countries could try and fight back and tank the control system.   developing a currency above the state level would make it that much harder to rebel or escape.

Wed, 03/12/2014 - 04:16 | 4537635 Baby Eating Dingo22
Baby Eating Dingo22's picture

You forgot the pulp and petro savings. Milling and drilling for the pulp and ink to print ad infinitum must be wreaking havoc on the polar bears

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