This is an opinion piece by Ram, a twenty-year-old student, soldier, and storyteller.
Your little girl is playing with her laptop and she’s screaming “Wow!” and “Oh!” You wonder what’s going on. Is it a cartoon? Is it an anime? Why is she so excited?
As I, twenty years old, write this in Singapore, about 15,000 It is estimated that active Bitcoin nodes are operating all over the world. These nodes store part/entire bitcoin database.
With 15,000 computers storing the same database all over the world, repeatedly passing new transactions and blocks to each other, it is virtually impossible for a player to pass and change the record of what happened. .
But speaking of Bitcoin’s future as a decentralized currency, Elon Musk said this:
I agree with Elon. But let me clarify.
Elon was referring to a validator node, which is quite simple to set up.
- Mining nodes and validation nodes serve different functions. (TLDR: Mining nodes consume electricity to create “blocks” of data, validating nodes verify if the information in these blocks is accurate. Nowadays, mining nodes are called miners, while validating nodes are simply called nodes.) Both contribute to decentralization.
- Setting up a validation node will not burn down your house due to high electricity consumption.
- It’s actually easy and doesn’t require any technical expertise.
- In fact, it only costs ~10 cents per day from electricity.
- At the moment, you need less than 7 GB of storage space to set up a pruned validator node (where you only hold part of the Bitcoin transaction database, but still contribute to decentralization).
Unfortunately, the average person is not aware of the above.
However, Bitcoin remains the most decentralized cryptocurrency on the planet. 15,000 nodes as part of a cryptocurrency is fine, and proof of Bitcoin’s decentralization has been demonstrated during block wars.
But let’s frame the context differently. More 5,000,000,000 people have access to the internet today. Suddenly 15,000 nodes seem tiny. More than 15,000 people probably have computers with 7 GB to spare. Many may even have an old laptop in the garage!
For Bitcoin to enjoy wider and faster adoption, its decentralization must be continually emphasized. One way to do this is to encourage ordinary people to run Bitcoin validator nodes.
We don’t talk about it enough today.
Achieve these UI and UX improvements through Node
Even in exchanges and payment applications, UI and UX are arguably overlooked. When it comes to Nodes, UI and UX discussion is pretty much non-existent.
Remember: the world’s greatest company got where it is by relentlessly focusing on user interface and user experience. The market capitalization of this company is currently around six times larger than that of Bitcoin.
Bitcoin may not be a business, but the same principle applies. It comes down to making things more intuitive.
When it comes to setting up a validator node, keep things simple. And simpler. And simpler. Installing Bitcoin Core should feel like installing a chrome extension. Or an app from Google Play. And suddenly we’ll have people realizing, “Hey, that knot thing is actually super simple!”
Let me clarify: setting up a validator node is already easy. But simplicity and perceived simplicity are different things. Today, perceived simplicity demands ease.
Next, let’s talk about what running a validation node should look like.
Take block explorer websites.
Technically, all of this information can be found on any full commit node. It’s just less intuitive and requires some technical knowledge. The average Joe does not acquire this knowledge.
So improve the UI and UX. Overlay the block explorer websites interface on top of the node program. Go further. Let users see how many nodes they’re transmitting data to, how many blocks they’ve helped validate so far, any temporary chain splits. More simple. More interactive. And yet effortlessly. I’m sure there will be lots of ideas for creating a fun blockchain-based user interface and user experience.
And UI and UX are not only important for further decentralization. They can change the very way people get into bitcoin.
As an illustration, here is what I imagine the typical journey of someone getting into Bitcoin:
Hears about cryptocurrencies as a way to make fiat → gets into altcoins → gets into bitcoin → gets interested in bitcoin → goes down the rabbit hole → believes in bitcoin → sets up a validating node.
This way is only one among many others. But here’s my point: Most of the time, setting up a node is pretty much late.
Here’s how an improved and intuitive node user interface and user experience could change that path:
Hears about cryptocurrencies as a way to create fiat → decides to install a bitcoin validator node to get a taste of crypto’s value proposition → learns by interacting with the blockchain → maybe even s have fun → care about bitcoin → believe in bitcoin → tell more people to install a validating node → spread the word; process loops.
A validating node is an open invitation from Bitcoin to new people, which requires no risk taking. UI and UX improvements will market it as such. They will propagate learning by interacting with the Bitcoin network. Education will come straight from the blockchain. Videos and articles, after all, can’t do much!
Here are some other user interface and user experience benefits:
- It attracts non-technical people to Bitcoin. Yes, Bitcoin is the most decentralized cryptocurrency on the planet. But the people who manage validator nodes are still a limited set, drawn largely from the technology and finance communities. Let’s also bring people from other communities. An immediate thought is that NFT designers move on to work on Bitcoin’s UI and UX.
- They reduce the inherent risks of centralized block mining websites.
- This would introduce Bitcoin, the payment system. You can argue about Bitcoin the currency, but Bitcoin the payment system is incredibly hard to refute, even through the prism of mainstream economics.
At this point, it should be mentioned that increased decentralization could also lead to some disadvantages. Typical problems of democracy. Decentralization among technocrats also has its advantages. But that’s another debate.
In the end, we need to talk about it more! Much of the world still deeply understands Bitcoin. The fact that the “Bitcoin is bad for the climate” argument is so successful is painful proof. And even we Bitcoiners, all at vastly different depths of the rabbit hole, can benefit from easier blockchain interactions.
So talk about it in your Telegrams, Discords and of course, on Twitter. Is it doable? Does that make sense? Is it a waste of time? Is he actively working there?
Let’s go back to the story from the beginning of this piece:
Your little girl is playing with her laptop and she’s screaming “Wow!” and “Oh!” You walk in and see a new block added to a chain of blocks that precedes it, in real time. You see one chain become two, until the chain above gets longer and longer and the chain below disappears in flames. Your daughter applauds.
Now, folks, that’s a vision worth pursuing.
This is a guest post from Ram. The opinions expressed are entirely their own and do not necessarily reflect those of BTC Inc or Bitcoin Magazine.