Bitcoin rose above $18,000 for the first time on many of the major exchanges today, gaining a market cap above $300 billion, a new all-time high.
The oldest digital asset is now nearing an equal worth with Microsoft, a company that unleashed the digital revolution after making home computers accessible to all.
It is not far off from Facebook either, which connects some 2 billion of the world’s citizens, and stands at around 30% of Apple’s market cap, a company that brought a computer to every pocket.
Has bitcoin really changed the world to the same extent as Microsoft, Facebook, Apple? Julian Assange of Wikileaks seems to think so, not least perhaps because it has changed his fortunes as Wikileaks started accepting bitcoin all the way back in 2011.
“Bitcoin is the real Occupy Wall Street,” Assange said, referring to an uprising of sorts late last decade following the banking collapse of 2008.
A more apt comparison might have perhaps been the Tea Party, which kind of managed to affect a little more change than Occupy Wall Street, but in the end neither really did much, so sending voters to Trump, who remains a wildcard with time yet to say whether he will affect any real change for the better.
But a comparison with either the left’s or right’s protest movements of 2008 is both misguided and might be quite apt.
Misguided because bitcoin, and other digital currencies like ethereum, do not really ask for anything. They make no demands, they have no requests, they do not even ask for change.
All they do is offer an option, an alternative ecosystem built by the people through the most advanced technological innovations and through just some code.
While the bitcoin genesis block might be seen as a rallying cry, it can also be seen as just a statement for why we might want to try something different.
So unlike Occupy Wall Street or the Tea Party, digital currencies are not a protest movement, but an innovation. They do not ask, but do, because they can thanks to code, with the people so building their own financial ecosystem which in some ways is better than the legacy financial ecosystem.
But there are worries the comparison could be apt in a different aspect. Both of those movements failed to affect real change. One can’t say bitcoin has so failed, to the contrary, but has it really achieved much?
That’s where the importance of doing comes into question. Since bitcoin was invented some 8 years ago, nothing of substance has really been done at the protocol level. There has instead been much talking, and little coding of significant relevance.
The network can still handle around the same level of transactions as eight years ago, therefore hasn’t quite provided an alternative except for investments.
Yet it does feel like everyone knows and is fairly certain that will change, because whatever wannabe committees might say today, it has become obvious capacity will be increased by both bundling transactions in second layers and bundling nodes through sharding.
Coders therefore are working on it, with the floodgates potentially opened once that hard problem is solved. And whoever does first will probably take the crown and glory, so beginning 2018 with the great scalability race.