On selling bitcoin, the idea.

August 23rd, 2014

Motto: do not sell a thing unless the value of the sale is greater than the value of the thing being sold.

People know how to convince each other of even wildly untrue things. Twisting the truth and pandering to individual preferences and abilities may be condemned by moral codes, religious systems, and colloquial conceptions of decency, but these are nevertheless innate human skills, polished despite whatever misgivings through nearly every manifestation of social interaction. Persuasive writing is taught in school, lies are organized into types, severities, and attendant consequences in households, and, of course, ubiquitous advertising demonstrates and exemplifies how to sell, how to create desire, how to capture markets, how to immortalize messages.

Left, for the most part, unchecked, the perceived importance of the sell has fashioned a wretchedly depressed society mired in consumer impulses and confusedly drawn to things that are "wild" or "different", by now simply synonymous with that which isn't packaged --or at least, which employs fewer or simpler layers in its cocoon. The sell creep, of course, sets its sights upon this mysterious beloved, too, so that difference becomes a new feature and wildness a new claim. The sell does not care what something actually is, but what it could be, and how it could be, and to whom. And certainly, it has its place.

That place is not among ideas. That place is not among essences, nor authorities. That place is certainly nowhere near bitcoin, nor bitcoin near it, and this is why attempts to sell bitcoin to people as an idea fail, and will continue to fail: it's not a thing to be sold, whether you use the correct term for the attempt or pretend you're attempting something else, and sane, and noble, by calling it "adoption".

Various collections of people touched by the fairies of false conclusions, broken summaries, and perpetuated hearsay will insist that bitcoin requires universal adoption to succeed, a notion with no basis in reality but a particularly sticky embrace of the obsession with all-inclusiveness currently going around. What's perhaps lost in the half-argument, half-yodeling contest between the touched and those patient enough to respond is the fact that even when mass adoption of bitcoin isn't being paraded as a chivalrous goal or a desperate need, it's still being put on the sales shelf, even among people who understand that good things aren't for everybody, and that existence does not preclude exclusivity.

In an age when education is more often about enforcing agreement than disseminating information and building knowledge, it makes sense that basic instincts to share would take the shape of persuasion and idiosyncratic analogy. (Here's a lesson that recently hit me over the head, by the way: an analogy is a literal equality. An analogy that merely illustrates a relationship and does not provide actually equal components is broken. You're selling, not explaining.) But this is all it is: a basic instinct to share using shitty tools that may work just fine if your job is to make the sale and to get your paycheck. Hopefully these wouldn't be the tools you use to encourage understanding.

When bitcoin is sold to idiots, the sale perpetuates idiocy. It creates people eager to make bitcoin answer their particular problems and quench their particular desires. When bitcoin is sold to the unidiotic, it creates people eager to write bitcoin off as a scam, a blip, or some other conveniently marginalized anomaly. Either way, the sale creates nothing of value, and plenty of noise --noise which may be pleasing to the salesman because listen! there's a buzz. But on the rare occurrence that someone idiotic or otherwise looks past the sale and on their own initiative seeks understanding of bitcoin, that victory cannot be said to owe credit to a marketing ploy.

The notion that bitcoin is difficult to understand has been used as an excuse for all manner of offensively bad diagrams, summaries, metaphors, and flat-out lies. That your friends and family aren't starry-eyed and weeping at your bitcoin talk doesn't mean bitcoin should, or possibly could, change form or function to absorb them as adherents or make you sound less silly. That some shocking swathe of the general public thinks bitcoin is an arcade token this week or a pyramid scheme the next doesn't mean contentless "nuh-uh!s" or contextless extractions of half-understood facts are okay to spout and spread. These mean you're not explaining well, or that your audience is unable or unwilling to think, or some mixture of these. You can address the first: elaborate facts, explain causes, express appreciation, but do not sell unless the value of that sale is greater than the value of the thing being sold.

One Response to “On selling bitcoin, the idea.”

  1. [...] akron, they’ll take a bus.¬†they’ll swim if they have to. [↩]Do you still think selling Bitcoin is a good idea? [↩]But perhaps not before the larger states¬†become predictably totalitarian [...]

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