In a year marked by “Bitcoin Maximalists,” the implosion of numerous centralized “crypto” projects, and the excommunication of self-interested Bitcoin influencers, Bitcoin Independence Day is more than ever. Worth celebrating.
The first Bitcoin Independence Day is scheduled for August 1, 2017, when Bitcoin users plan to deploy software upgrades through a user-activated soft fork (UASF) via BIP148, which they hope will mark a multi-year community-based victory through Activate SegWit for Blocksize War. This is a change to Bitcoin’s transaction format, supported by the entire Bitcoin community, but opposed by some large mining entities and other ecosystem startups trying to hard fork the protocol to increase the block size limit .
The idea of celebrating BIP148 Flag Day on August 1 as a holiday was more or less coined by Jan3 CEO Samson Mow, an outspoken advocate for the UASF. In the days leading up to the planned inaugural Bitcoin Independence Day, Bitcoin’s mining community capitulated, signaling their support for BIP91 after the BIP148 UASF mandated Segregated Witness had been deployed and inevitable. Segregated Witness was activated on the Bitcoin network on August 24, 2017.
The spirit of the original UASF rally makes the idea of Bitcoin Independence Day worth remembering, even five years later. Meanwhile, questions about how the Bitcoin protocol should change and the role of Bitcoin’s most prominent figures in influencing its future remain unresolved.
Reviewing SegWit with Luke Dashjr
In order to reflect on these issues as part of this year’s Bitcoin Independence Day, it may be helpful to go back to square one with those present. Prominent Bitcoin Core developer Luke Dashjr was one of the first to suggest deploying SegWit as a soft fork.
Dashjr maintains the spirit that was so prominent during the Blocksize wars. More recently, this has meant opposing the fast-trial path of Taproot activation, despite its general acceptance within much of Bitcoin’s technical community, noting that the fast-trial activation method ignores the consensus developed around the BIP8 activation soft fork method.
“We learned some important lessons about activating SegWit,” Dashjr recalled in an interview on Bitcoin Independence Day this year. “Unfortunately, some developers don’t seem to have learned these lessons and are trying to repeat it on Taproot, even rejecting the community consensus around BIP8.”
Taproot could be seen as Bitcoin’s most significant protocol upgrade since SegWit, but its activation did little to viciously test the resolve of the Bitcoin community. Most Bitcoin hash rate contributors were quick to express support for the popular upgrade.
There has never been a “commercial entity versus user” standoff surrounding the Taproot activation, and real questions about how to come to a consensus on changes to Bitcoin have not really been answered. In fact, Dashjr pointed out that, if anything, Bitcoin may now be in a worse position to resist the influence of centralized entities, such as those that support SegWit2x.
“Expectations have grown for Bitcoin since 2017, but unfortunately, Bitcoin itself and its network have shrunk, making it far less secure and fringe centralized,” he noted, adding that the data It shows that the number of Bitcoin nodes has dropped from 200,000 in 2018 to less than 50,000 today. “But at the same time, demand for Bitcoin has grown tremendously — I like to say ‘too important to fail’ — and I think that despite these difficulties, ensuring its success is critical to the future of humanity.”
run your own node
As Bitcoin prices rose from around $4,400 in August 2017 to more than $20,000 today, it’s clear that the original Bitcoin Independence Day protected the protocol’s path to mass adoption. But the recent failure of centralized custody providers like Celsius shows that true Bitcoin independence has not grown with the asset’s adoption.
As Dashjr put it, “it’s not enough to get people to buy bitcoin or the price to go up”. “All of Bitcoin’s advantages — including its security against theft and its 21 million BTC cap — stem from the assumption that most economies are using their own full nodes to verify payments to them. Centralized verification and third-party/custodial wallets threaten Bitcoin more than anything else.”
Perhaps the biggest legacy of SegWit and Blocksize War is a reminder that for Bitcoin to truly live up to its promise, its users must remain as highly independent as they were in 2017.
“This was an important experiment in Bitcoin history, allowing the community to overcome a hostile takeover attempt by some powerful elite,” recalls Dashjr. “If the UASF fails, that could mean the demise of Bitcoin and the concept of decentralized money as a whole. So the annual Bitcoin Independence Day celebration seems very fitting and worth participating in.”