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Author Topic: Bitcoin is Worse is Better  (Read 796 times)
Severian
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September 13, 2012, 03:36:54 PM
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I'm still catching up on past writings on bitcoin. Sorry if it's a repeat.

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Bitcoin is Worse is Better

author: gwern
published: 2011-05-28 03:50:38 UTC

...In short, Bitcoin is a perfect example of Worse is Better (original essay). You can see the tradeoffs that Richard P. Gabriel enumerates: Bitcoin has many edge cases; it lacks many properties one would desire for a cryptocurrency; the whitepaper is badly underspecified; much of the behavior is socially determined by what the miners and clients collectively agree to accept, not by the protocol; etc.

But it seems to work. Just like Unix, there were countless ways to destroy your data or crash the system, which didn't exist on more 'proper' OSs like OpenVMS, and there were countless lacking features compared to systems like ITS or the Lisp machine OSs. But like the proverbial cockroaches, Unix spread, networked, survived - and the rest did not. The UNIX-HATERS Handbook, which contains many entertaining and often still-applicable descriptions of the fecklessness and sharp edges of Unixes, also contains an extremely funny 'Anti-Foreword' by Dennis Ritchie:

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"To the contributors to this book: I have succumbed to the temptation you offered in your preface: I do write you off as envious malcontents and romantic keepers of memories. The systems you remember so fondly (TOPS-20, ITS, Multics, Lisp Machine, Cedar/Mesa, the Dorado) are not just out to pasture, they are fertilizing it from below...You claim to seek progress, but you succeed mainly in whining. Here is my metaphor: your book is a pudding stuffed with apposite observations, many well-conceived. Like excrement, it contains enough undigested nuggets of nutrition to sustain life for some. But it is not a tasty pie: it reeks too much of contempt and of envy. Bon appetit!"

http://bitcoinweekly.com/articles/bitcoin-is-worse-is-better/
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Strider Hiryu
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September 13, 2012, 07:48:16 PM
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I'm beginning to see this too.  However, judging by the longevity of C, unix, windows, x86, html, php, etc... 'Worse' apparently really is 'Better'.  And this will not affect Bitcoin's survival.  It will however cause much grief and pain to everyone involved along the way.

What 'worse' has going for it is 'fast and easy', which is why it's successful.  We'd have had to wait another decade for a 'better' Bitcoin.  So we make due with what we have, and it entrenches itself (and we suffer later).
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September 13, 2012, 08:24:11 PM
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So we make due with what we have, and it entrenches itself (and we suffer later).

Suffering is always a given and I concur - make do with the tools at hand.
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