The Cypherpunk Movement : Interview with Aaron van Wirdum Bitcoin Magazine ②

Aaron van Wirdum is the Technical Editor, content writer and a Crypto fan who works for Bitcoin Magazine. He is interested in technology and how it affects social and political structures, and recently has found a new interest in Bitcoin and monetary history. He has been covering Bitcoin since 2013, focusing on privacy, scalability and more. Right now he is writing a book about crypto, bitcoin and its history, so be prepared for that.

Aaron van Wirdum

Interview Date : 19th October 2020

The Cypherpunk Movement

The cypherpunk was a movement from the 1990s back when the internet was brand new and just had started to get more broadly adopted. Cypherpunks realized that the internet had huge potential and that there would be two potential outcomes of the internet. One would be the internet becoming a panopticon surveillance machine that would break everybody’s privacy, and enable a totalitarian state. The other outcome would be privacy with strong encryption where people could communicate, trade, and transact freely and privately. Thus, the cypherpunks created a movement to make the later outcome happen. Using the cryptographic tools that were invented in the 70s and 80s, and turning them into software’s which people could use. For example, by creating remailer services allowing people to email anonymously. Another idea was to create market places where people could trade anonymously. They thought they needed digital anonymous money, and were experimenting with early different ideas and digital cash projects. Ultimately, these types of experiments and the invention of technologies combined created Bitcoin which is one of the most successful technologies that has come out from the cypherpunk movement.

Important Features – Taproot

Two important things are going on with Bitcoin today that contribute to its further development. The first one is the development of Taproots, a big Bitcoin development upgrade which is getting closer to deployment. Taproot is a protocol upgrade that will allow for more flexible smart contracts and functionality while offering it in a privacy friendly way. For example, the Lightning network essentially uses smart contracts to open a channel. You can see that the Lightning channels are being opened and closed. However, with Taproot, it would all blend and it would look more like regular transactions. It will offer more privacy plus be better for scaling. This will be the biggest upgrade on Bitcoin since SegWit.

On the other hand, we see the big companies putting Bitcoin in their balance sheets. Companies putting Bitcoin on their balance sheets is another indicator that Bitcoin is being taken more seriously. Especially at this point, it’s all about being hedge inflation and a non-correlated asset. An asset class that has macro-economic relevance is a big deal. For a startup internet currency that was launched from scratch about 11-12 years ago, and now has developed into being taken seriously, is amazing. Big companies are confident enough to put millions of dollars into Bitcoin to store their wealth, and that’s a very notable development.

Bitcoin Educative Podcast

The Podcast I am doing is called The Van Wirdum Sjorsnado. I am doing it with a Bitcoin contributor, and we highlight one technical aspect of Bitcoin each week. That could be a new upgrade that’s included in a new Bitcoin core release, features, functions, and how some mechanisms work. We aim to create content for our listeners, so they learn more about Bitcoin. Occasionally, we do have guests, but even during those times, we still talk about different aspects and theories about Bitcoin, so it is a very informative podcast.

Hard to Decide on Coins?

For me, it’s pretty clear when it comes to coins; if it’s not Bitcoin, then it is probably a scam. People will just call me a Bitcoin maximalist as if it’s something irrational, but that’s OK. I could try to be a little more nuanced, but I am pretty strongly on the Bitcoin side, and I don’t think that’s irrational.
I don’t care about the label “maximalist” if it helps people understand that I think most other coins are close to scams.

Bitcoin Magazine Office and Team

We have an office in Nashville, but there is a mix of how we “go” to work. Some of us work at the office, and others work remotely. For me, remote is the way to go. I can’t imagine myself going to an office building every day. and sitting there for a set hour. I prefer the freedom of working on the hours that work best for me.

Journalism Today

I used to want to be a writer as a child and would participate in writing contests. I believe Journalism is very important for a democracy. You can’t have a functioning democracy if people don’t know what is going on. Journalism is a very important

profession, but it has gained a bad reputation over recent years. That is partly because it is becoming harder and harder to make a living as a journalist. Having to do with fewer resources and time, it’s getting more difficult to write at the same time people are expecting content to be for free.

A New Book On the Rising

The book I have been working on is about the prehistory of Bitcoin. It includes prehistoric facts and details about cypherpunks, Austrian economics, and other things that are a part of creating Bitcoin. Writing a book is a new experience for me. I do sometimes get a little intimidated by other books on related topics that have been written well, so it makes me nervous. However, that also keeps me on my toes. By understanding Bitcoin from a historical standpoint, the timeline of digital cash projects becomes very logical and reasonable, and the movements start to make sense.

Interviewer , Editor : Lina Kamada


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