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Author Topic: A Proposal for the Mitigation of Bitcoin's Linguistic Transaction Costs  (Read 5218 times)
_tenletters
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March 11, 2014, 10:49:13 PM
Last edit: March 12, 2014, 08:37:37 PM by _tenletters
 #1

Today what we call one 'Bitcoin' is made up of 100 Million Satoshis. This makes most transactions total less than one full Bitcoin, and makes it hard for innumerate users to conceptualize and communicate about portions smaller than .01 BTC. This has led to current proposals and conventions for naming sub 1 BTC units, which all involve prefixes to the word 'Bitcoin', or unique names like the Finney or Satoshi. All of these result in multi-syllable words that increase Bitcoin's linguistic transaction cost, and for this and other reasons make the ecosystem harder than it needs to be to learn about and to use. A more elegant and smoother convention would be as follows: Switch the names of one Bitcoin and one Satoshi, and use existing common and slang names for the powers of ten, chosen from the most widely used languages.


New naming convention:

  • 100,000,000 One Full Satoshi of Bitcoins Like a brick of gold. Originally named the 'Bitcoin' until massive growth forced a renaming of units.
  • _10,000,000
  • __1,000,000
  • ____100,000 One Lakh Pronounced "Lack". A unit in the South Asian numbering system equal to one hundred thousand, widely used both in official and other contexts in Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka. It is often used in Indian, Pakistani, and Sri Lankan English.
  • _____10,000
  • _______1000
  • ________100
  • _________10
  • __________1 One Bitcoin the smallest unit, in context simply referred to as a 'coin'. Originally named the 'Satoshi' until massive growth forced a renaming of units.

That is the core structure of the proposal. Before you reject it out of hand based on how different it is to what you have learned, how it turns our current convention upside down, please remember that for every one of us that uses the ecosystem now, hundreds and then thousands of others are likely to use it in the future. For them there will be no effort involved in switching, they will simply learn a much more intuitive system that humbly fits into existing habits of speech rather than demanding entirely new ones. This is the change to make, and now is the time to make it.

This naming convention scales to the moon. Stay with me now...

More than a billion people are already intimately familiar with using Lakhs to conceptualize currency units of 100,000. And not just the billion in South Asia, but traders anywhere who do business with South Asians are likely to have heard the phrase "one lakh Rupees". If you do not know how ubiquitous the word's usage is, and especially for currency, just ask around, it will not be hard to confirm.

One Lakh Rupees. One lakh Rupees is probably about enough to buy the Indian made motorcycle he is sitting on when it was new, for perspective.

We all know that the naming conventions are fully arbitrary. We roll our eyes and sigh when people tell us Bitcoin can not possibly be a good deal at hundreds of dollars for one single coin. But even with full awareness of this, it is easy to understand how much less attractive the prospect of buying .0016 BTC for $1 USD worth of one's currency is than spending the same $1 on a full Lakh of Bitcoins. Or $10, or even $100. You are getting a WHOLE Lakh of Bitcoins!

By making the ecosystem easier to talk about it becomes easier to use. Which is how this semantic stock split will make all the little Bitcoins more valuable, as well as every full Satoshi.

If you are still not convinced do one last thing for me, say out loud, thirty times in a row, "Mil-E-Bit-Coin". Go ahead, say it. Thirty times. Are you annoyed?

Then say "Lakh" thirty times. Now imagine that multiplied by a billion users multiplied by thousands of days.

As far as names for other units, 'Crore' is used for ten million by the same billion or so speakers who use Lakh. And of course 'grand' is a widely used single syllable word for one thousand. The addition of those two would limit the jump between any two units to two orders of magnitude, except for 1-1000, which is three, but those are the three that people are used to dealing with. The result would be a much easier to understand ecosystem.

It will be interesting to find out what other single syllable common or slang words there are for the powers of ten in other widely used languages.  

EDIT:
No.

The problem is there is no central agency of weights and measures for Bitcoin.  So lets say some people adopt your provision and some don't.  You would see people saying "selling my steam game for one million Bitcoins" and other people being utterly confused as to why someone would be willing to pay close to $1B USD for a video game.  You can't force everyone to use your (or any) naming system, so any naming system which attempts to revalue a Bitcoin is dead before the author finished writing it.

There needs to be no central agency to enforce anything formal. This proposal needs only to overcome the initial friction from current users resistant to change. It is much more intuitive and could win consensus and become the standard in a short amount of time if even a sizable minority got behind it, because it simply makes far more sense than "coins" that costs thousands of dollars, or ridiculous seven syllable Hun-Dred-Ki-Lo-Sa-To-Shi units. Holdouts will be quickly outnumbered by new users, who will overwhelming adopt the simpler system, if given the choice.

One of the properties of Bitcoin that was essential in it's initial adoption as a unit of value was a property that it shared with the earliest forms of currency, that of collectibility.

Nick Szabo (emphasis mine):

Quote
Menger called this first money an "intermediate commodity" -- what this paper calls collectibles. An artifact useful for other things, such as cutting, could also be used as a collectible. However, once institutions involving wealth transfer became valuable, collectibles would be manufactured just for their collectible properties. What are these properties? For a particular commodity to be chosen as a valuable collectible, it would have had, relative to products less valuable as collectibles, at least the following desirable qualities:

   (1) More secure from accidential loss and theft.  For most of history
   this meant carriable on the person and easy to hide.  

   (2) Harder to forge its value.  An important subset of these are products
   that are unforgeably costly, and therefore considered valuable, for
   reasons explained below.

   (3) This value was more accurately approximated by simple observations
   or measurements.
  These observations would have had more reliable
   integrity yet have been less expensive.
   
Humans the world over are strongly motivated to collect items that better satisfy these properties. Some of this motivation probably includes genetically evolved instincts. Such objects are collected for the sheer pleasure of collecting them (not for any particularly good explicit and proximate reasons), and such pleasure is nearly universal across human cultures. One of the immediate proximate motivations is decoration. According to Dr. Mary C. Stiner, an archaeologist at the University of Arizona, "Ornamentation is universal among all modern human foragers." [W02] For an evolutionary psychologist, such a behavior that has a good ultimate explanation, in terms of natural selection, but has no proximate rationale other than pleasure, is a prime candidate to be a genetically evolved pleasure that motivates the behavior. Such is, if the reasoning in this essay is correct, the human instinct to collect rare items, art, and especially jewelry.

Point (2) requires some further explanation. At first, the production of a commodity simply because it is costly seems quite wasteful. However, the unforgeably costly commodity repeatedly adds value by enabling beneficial wealth transfers. More of the cost is recouped every time a transaction is made possible or made less expensive. The cost, initially a complete waste, is amortized over many transactions. The monetary value of precious metals is based on this principle. It also applies to collectibles, which are more prized the rarer they are and the less forgeable this rarity is. It also applies where provably skilled or unique human labor is added to the product, as with art.

We have never discovered or made a product that does really well on all three scores. Art and collectibles (in the sense that word is used in modern culture, rather in the technical sense it is used in this paper) optimize (2), but not (1) or (3). Common beads satisfy (1) but not (2) or (3). Jewelry, made at first out of the most beautiful and less common shells but eventually in many cultures out of precious metals, comes closer to satisfying all three properties. It is no coincidence that precious metal jewelry usually came in thin forms such as chains and rings, allowing for inexpensive assaying at randomly chosen locations. Coins were a further improvement -- substituting small standard weights and trademarks for assays greatly reduced the costs of small transactions using precious metals. Money proper was just a further step in the evolution of collectibles.

The concept of one coin being 100,000,000 of the smallest unit in the Bitcoin network was fine when users were able to collect multiple coins, but from here on out the majority of new users will own less than 1 BTC. The conceptual nature of a coin makes it far more compatible with being the smallest unit, the grain in the granularity, at this point and forward in Bitcoin's adoption than some arbitrary unit 108 times higher, that most will never even see. At this point the coin in Bitcoin is no longer small, and transaction amounts can happen entirely three places to the right of the decimal, units who's value are no longer easily able to be approximated by simple observation.

People's instinct will be triggered much more strongly to collect something that they can have many of, than something they can only have a portion of, even though this is to a degree irrational, since the purchasing power is the same.

For reasons of evolutionary psychology going back thousands of years, the end of the S adoption curve for Bitcoin should be verbally similar to the beginning, with units of 50 coins being a normal, in scale number of coins for the average user to acquire.The effort in transitioning will pay off in short time in reduced linguistic transaction costs and extra adoption from increased collectibility.

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March 11, 2014, 11:05:37 PM
 #2

No.

The problem is there is no central agency of weights and measures for Bitcoin.  So lets say some people adopt your provision and some don't.  You would see people saying "selling my steam game for one million Bitcoins" and other people being utterly confused as to why someone would be willing to pay close to $1B USD for a video game.  You can't force everyone to use your (or any) naming system, so any naming system which attempts to revalue a Bitcoin is dead before the author finished writing it.
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March 11, 2014, 11:33:02 PM
 #3

    100,000,000  One Bitcoin
    _10,000,000  Ten MEGAtoshi
    __1,000,000  MEGAtoshi
    ____100,000  Hundred KILOtoshis
    _____10,000  Ten KILOtoshis
    _______1000 KILOtoshi
    ________100 Hundred Satoshis
    _________10 Ten Satoshis
    __________1 One Satoshi
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March 12, 2014, 12:07:04 AM
 #4

The only ones that are remotely agreed about are a Bitcion (1e1) and a Satoshi (1e-8). Though satoshi is just really slang.

The metric system naming convention doesn't need to be reinvented and works quite well. In fact, most kids should have learned them all by the 5th grade. Maybe 9th given that some public school children learn really slowly, but they still learn them. I can't vouch for other countries, but seeing as the US is bottom of top 25 in math, there's at least 20 other countries that should understand it just fine as well. Scratch that we slipped outside the top 25 this year to 31st. hahaha. So there's a few more countries in that list above us. 

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March 12, 2014, 02:02:09 AM
Last edit: March 12, 2014, 02:52:45 PM by _tenletters
 #5

EDIT: Added to OP
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March 12, 2014, 02:08:32 AM
 #6

    100,000,000  One Bitcoin
    _10,000,000  Ten MEGAtoshi
    __1,000,000  MEGAtoshi
    ____100,000  Hundred KILOtoshis
    _____10,000  Ten KILOtoshis
    _______1000 KILOtoshi
    ________100 Hundred Satoshis
    _________10 Ten Satoshis
    __________1 One Satoshi

oooh! I like this one....

Where does finney fit in again? I forget...

1YogAFA... (oh, nevermind)
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March 12, 2014, 04:40:16 AM
 #7

Somehow I think colored coins will determine bitcoin naming conventions as well. They will be able to assign arbitrary amounts of bitdust to represent what will one day be commonly used B^2 currencies.

Any significantly advanced cryptocurrency is indistinguishable from Ponzi Tulips.
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March 12, 2014, 06:29:36 AM
 #8

I think we will end up with a whole ton of names in each country for the same thing in the long run  heck it may even regionalize terms  Wink

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March 12, 2014, 05:49:40 PM
 #9

    100,000,000  One Bitcoin
    _10,000,000  Ten MEGAtoshi
    __1,000,000  MEGAtoshi
    ____100,000  Hundred KILOtoshis
    _____10,000  Ten KILOtoshis
    _______1000 KILOtoshi
    ________100 Hundred Satoshis
    _________10 Ten Satoshis
    __________1 One Satoshi

i like this one as well.  kilotoshi.  Smiley
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March 13, 2014, 03:01:45 AM
 #10

I think people who seriously want to get involved would inevitably try to grasp the idea of the value of a full coin. So it might take sometime for people to make the mental shift from using large integers to decimal digits. Our brains are so flexible, and we don't necessarily have to push things too hard.
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March 13, 2014, 03:25:47 AM
 #11

I propose using microbitcoin as this would make it appear you get more when buying bitcoin with dollars. And a microbitcoin has 2 decimals, just like most other currencies.

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March 13, 2014, 04:01:48 AM
 #12

I don't think most people will even be trading in Raw Bitcoin except brokers soon. Colored coins will be the normal currency and they will have a Bitcoin size of BTC0.0000543. Unless that minimum dust transaction limit plans to be changed soon, we should have a naming contest for that as it will be the basis of all colored coin creations. I'm still not clear if that is also the bottom for colored coin transactions themselves or not.

Any significantly advanced cryptocurrency is indistinguishable from Ponzi Tulips.
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March 19, 2014, 02:11:38 AM
Last edit: March 19, 2014, 02:45:19 AM by gojomo
 #13

The need is clear, but redefining 'Bitcoin' right now (especially swapping its meaning with 'Satoshi') would be like trying to change the side-of-the-road a country drives on. It'd require massive consensus and synchronization to avoid confusion and loss.

I have a proposal based on coining a new term for µBTC. More details are in a sibling thread:

https://bitcointalk.org/index.php?topic=515405.msg5774811#msg5774811

Cheers, jeers, and all other kinds of reactions welcome.
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March 19, 2014, 06:51:47 PM
 #14

    100,000,000  One Bitcoin
    _10,000,000  Ten MEGAtoshi
    __1,000,000  MEGAtoshi
    ____100,000  Hundred KILOtoshis
    _____10,000  Ten KILOtoshis
    _______1000 KILOtoshi
    ________100 Hundred Satoshis
    _________10 Ten Satoshis
    __________1 One Satoshi

oooh! I like this one....

Where does finney fit in again? I forget...

1 finney = 0.0001 bitcoin = 10000 satoshis

I think I can finally admit that I really liked that name.

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In the future, books that summarize the history of money will have a line that says, “and then came bitcoin.” It is the economic singularity. And we are living in it now. - Ryan Dickherber
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March 19, 2014, 09:19:16 PM
 #15

1 satoshi should be 1 bitcoin, 1 current bitcoin = 100 million bitcoins
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April 18, 2014, 10:46:30 AM
 #16

I know this obviously isn't going to be a thing because it's "confusing", but I would just prefer to call them dollars (I do in my mind). Dollars, Cryptodollars, C-dollars, Bitdollars, whatever the appropriate name somebody can think of and agree on. If I would say I placed a 125 dollar buy order on mintpal to buy Xcoin, it should be obvious I'm not talking about US or Canadian or Australian dollars, because Mintpal is a place in the cryptoworld and not in New York or Toronto or Sydney. Nobody in Canada gets confused when someone at the convenience store says, that will be 5 dollars please, unless they are a fucking moron. And if someone did want to sell something for USD in Canada, then they would simply clarify: that will be 5 US dollars. Let me clarify again, that I understand that this kind of system has flaws and why it might confusing unless it was universally recognized, but it just works fine for me personally.

1.00000000 - 1000 dollars
0.10000000 - 100
0.01000000 - 10
0.00100000 - 1
0.00010000 - 10 cents
0.00001000 - 1
0.00000100 - 100 satoshi
0.00000010 - 10
0.00000001 - 1
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April 18, 2014, 11:00:19 AM
 #17

I neither want an American nomenclature nor an Asien.
So, neither Dollar nor Lakh is acceptable for me and most other people in Europe.
Bitcoin is a global currency. Keep that in mind and don't refer to what you are used to, when dealing with fiat in your country.

People learned what Byte, MB, etc. is. People will learn the nomenclature of Bitcoins.

    100,000,000  One Bitcoin
    _10,000,000  Ten MEGAtoshi
    __1,000,000  MEGAtoshi
    ____100,000  Hundred KILOtoshis
    _____10,000  Ten KILOtoshis
    _______1000 KILOtoshi
    ________100 Hundred Satoshis
    _________10 Ten Satoshis
    __________1 One Satoshi
I like that.

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April 22, 2014, 05:41:41 PM
 #18

You are missing the point.

The important factor is the semantic re-basement, the terms used for the powers of ten can vary over time and geography. 

The human instinct to hoard collectibles has driven the adoption of Bitcoin. For this to continue to be a strong driving factor, the amounts that typical new users are able to acquire should be referred to as full "bitcoins". At this point anything from 1 to 100,000 satoshis would work, but the smaller units scale farther into the future, if we assume further S-curve adoption.

Lakh is just a good term to refer to units of 100,000 of anything, because it is a simple single syllable term, and is already familiar to many people.
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April 23, 2014, 06:50:15 AM
 #19

You are missing the point.

The important factor is the semantic re-basement, the terms used for the powers of ten can vary over time and geography. 

The human instinct to hoard collectibles has driven the adoption of Bitcoin. For this to continue to be a strong driving factor, the amounts that typical new users are able to acquire should be referred to as full "bitcoins". At this point anything from 1 to 100,000 satoshis would work, but the smaller units scale farther into the future, if we assume further S-curve adoption.

Lakh is just a good term to refer to units of 100,000 of anything, because it is a simple single syllable term, and is already familiar to many people.
I think Mega is more familiar to people. Lakh is just familiar to Asian people and not an international term, that is used by everybody, who has a computer.
So, stop forcing terms into the bitcoin world, just because it is used in your country. I don't care, what population your country has, so you can say "it is already familiar to many people"
It is not gonna happen.

https://forum.bitcoin.com/
New censorship-free forum by Roger Ver. Try it out.
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April 23, 2014, 07:52:19 AM
 #20

...One Lakh Pronounced "Lack". ...

In English: A "lack" of money is a strong negative.
You might get more support if you edit that part out.  Wink
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