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With that current down market for Bitcoin and Cryptocurrencies there has been a lot of talk on Twitter and other places and since there is so much that I disagree with, I figured I should add my 2 cents (or maybe 2 satoshis is more appropriate in this case). Unfortunately, what I have to say is too long for a tweet or two so I’ve got to go back to the mostly forgotten blog for this. I will for once give this the disclaimer that all opinions are my own and in no way represent my employer or any coins I’m involved in or hold.

As I’m writing this, Bitcoin is $6,133.47 according to CoinMarketCap (after a high of about $20,000 6 months ago). Most of the altcoins have been more or less following that. A few (decred for example) are still strong, but even they are down from a week or so ago.

Not too surprisingly this worries some people. There are more than a few posts and news stories about Bitcoin dying or something like that. I don’t have any response to that since it is nothing we haven’t seen before. I’m actually much more interested in the responses I’ve seen from some of the pro-Bitcoin or pro-cryptocurrency folks.

More than a few people have been saying that a downturn in Bitcoin is a good thing because it will scare away or otherwise push out the people who don’t belong here (noobs, no-coiners, or whatever other term they feel like using).

I have two big issues with this thinking.

First, this price drop is not a good thing and to claim it is makes no sense to me. I don’t think it is a terrible thing or in any way fatal to cryptocurrencies, but that doesn’t make it good. While there may be certain trading strategies that do well with volatility, so most people and most uses, it is not great (and even worse, it is scary if you haven’t been around the block a few times). I don’t like seeing people losing money (either real or on paper) and I don’t like losing money myself. Of course you should never gamble or invest money that you can’t afford to lose, but when you combine the crazy high prices from a few months ago with the currently low prices, that dramatically impacts who can afford to play in the cryptocurrency sandbox. This bring up the second (and more important to me) issue I have.

I absolutely do NOT want people being driven out of cryptocurrency for economic reasons (or really for most reasons). I’ve been doing Bitcoin and cryptocurrency for a relatively long time now. The earliest public code I could find from me was:

jcv@triforce btcjson $ git show d0d58c54db28d1a84bcc9b8effd985f59135972c | head
commit d0d58c54db28d1a84bcc9b8effd985f59135972c
Author: John C. Vernaleo <jcv@conformal.com>
AuthorDate: Fri May 10 16:16:18 2013 -0400
Commit: John C. Vernaleo <jcv@conformal.com>
CommitDate: Mon May 13 12:25:41 2013 -0400

Initial implementation

so I’ve seen a whole lot of people come and go in this space.

There have been the folks who think that this will let them somehow get away from governments in either some libertarian or cyberpunk utopia (let me know how that one goes, but I won’t be holding my breath). There are the people who hate banks (and I have some news for them, banks have noticed cryptocurrency and blockchain and are putting a lot into this space now). There are the pro privacy people (hope they are sticking with Monero and Zcash rather than Bitcoin). There are the straight up anarchist punks who don’t seem to be in the space too much, but as an old punk, I totally want to see more of you. There are degenerate traders who apparently decided normal stock, bond, and forex trading just wasn’t volatile enough to get the rush they needed. There are the technologists who just think there is good tech here that we should be using and let’s see what we can do with it (not surprisingly I’m probably closer to that camp than anything else). And there are the ‘regular folk’ that we haven’t done a great job of getting them involved in the first place. You may or may not see yourself in one of these groups and there are lots of others that I missed. But my point is, much like the early web, we should want everyone here. The one overriding goal of most of this is decentralization and that should include everyone that we can. If your goal is decentralization but you want to exclude x, y, or z (with the obvious exception of wanting to exclude those who are trying to prevent decentralization of course), then you might just not be doing it right.

None of this means that we just accept anything that gets thrown out there and called cryptocurrencies. There will of course be coins that the market and the community will reject (hopefully for technical reasons). And there are probably people who will fit into a similar category. But even those cases aren’t things to celebrate. They are unfortunate facts of life, but that’s all.

So, in summary, don’t panic at a downturn, but don’t celebrate it as a way to push people out either.