As Bitcoin Ordinals swiftly approach the 50-million-inscription milestone, the Bitcoin Community prepares to mark the first anniversary since Casey Rodarmor officially launched on 30 January a new protocol to encrypt digital content in each satoshi.
That celebration follows yet another first anniversary, 14 December, when Rodarmor created and inscribed the first-ever Ordinal using his protocol. Its an original pixel art of a black and white skull on the Bitcoin blockchain, which he assigned the number zero.
Rodarmor’s creation has split Bitcoiners into two camps. One who believe that adding utility to the network does not go against their ethos and will spark greater adoption; and another who argue it opens up a Pandora’s box of threats to the BTC network, including malware attacks and stratospheric transaction fees.
Bitcoin Maxi who identifies him or herself as @BitcoinSapiens on Twitter has as many of them been opposed to Ordinals from the start. Last week, that user on Twitter said that
“99% of Ordinals are scams. The other 1% are also scams.”
Amid the ongoing debate, a new Ordinals art collection that could reunited the Bitcoin Community has been inscribed, according to an anonymous Counterfeit Culture source. The collection is entitled “Inflation” and is comprised of 111 Inscriptions, each representing the actual burning of $100, $10 and one $1 dollar bills worth a total of $10,101.
“Let’s be honest. Web3 is plagued with digital snake oil and JPG salespersons, but let’s not forget that Satoshi left behind a hidden message in the Bitcoin network’s genesis block, potentially hinting at its double use case,” the source said.
“What differentiates this collection is that it references Satoshi’s original message denouncing the corruption of fiat currency, so it connects bitcoiners and maxis. Furthermore, it demonstrates that art can elevate Bitcoin and help it reach new frontiers,” the Counterfeit Culture collective source added.
“Bitcoin maxis, opposed to Ordinals, need only to take a good look at these types of projects to realize just how powerful inscriptions are,” the source said in an exclusive interview. “Bitcoin is where art can sit securely for infinity (or perpetuity) thanks to Casey Rodarmor’s Ordinals Protocol.”
As an example of Ordinal use cases and taking advantage of its perpetuity virtue, Project Spartacus on 7 October 2023 inscribed on bitcoin using the Ordinals Protocol the vast troves of Afghan War logs unveiled in 2010 by Julian Assange’s Wikileaks.
Project Spartacus has a website where it provides a public interface allowing users to inscribe a war log on the Bitcoin blockchain.
Reigniting the block size war
The emergence of Bitcoin Ordinals revived the “Blocksize Wars” of 2015 to 2017, a period marked by rancor and internal division. It split the Bitcoiners in two, those advocating for large blocks and those in favour of small blocks.
That lead to a Bitcoin fork that enabled Bitcoin Cash’s inception in August 2017. BCH was subject to another forkwar —which all bitcoiners are trying to avoid — that lead to the emergence of Bitcoin Satoshi’s Vision (BSV).
Those who identify as Maxis claim that Ordinals are filling block transactions with “spam” and other “digital garbage,” while causing fees to increase. The Ordinals supporters claim that increasing the blocksize and adding utility, including Ordinal inscriptions, will bring more people to Bitcoin.
@DecredSociety wrote on Twitter that
“Bitcoin is experiencing a spam attack, blocks are filling up fast with internet goods including jpegs. This development has been enabled by segwit, a soft fork that inflates the maximum block size of 1mb to 4mb.”
Creating a good fungible token protocol for Bitcoin
Addressing some of the Bitcoin maxis’ greater concerns over Ordinals, Rodarmor released Runes, enabling holding token balances in UTXOs and allowing for more flexible transactions.
In a blog explaining Runes, Rodarmor himself casts significant doubt on his creation.
“I’m not sure creating a new fungible token protocol for Bitcoin is a good idea. Fungible tokens are 99.9% scams and memes. However, they don’t appear to be going away any time soon, similar to the way in which casinos don’t appear to be going away any time soon,” he wrote.
However, Rodarmor assured that “creating a good fungible token protocol for Bitcoin could bring significant transaction fee revenue, developer mindshare, and users to Bitcoin.”
Expressing artists’ personal beliefs
“I am a strong believer that the short-term pain is great for the long-term growth of the Bitcoin ecosystem, which makes people think about what type of Ordinal Protocol code is needed in ScriptSig or how to implement computation functionalities using off-chain infrastructures, such as W3bstream.com,” IoTeX CEO Raullen Chai said.
Chai referenced a Bitcoin Forum thread by Seburnir in which Satoshi weighed in on 28 January 2010. “From his replies, one can clearly tell Satoshi is interested in exploring various Bitcoin chain use cases.
“The Bitcoin Ordinals are seen as a form of resistance to the traditional financial system,” Chai said regarding the Inflation collection. “They are also a way of expressing artists personal beliefs about Bitcoin and its potential to change the world. Sort of Bitcoin Fundamentalism.”
The world’s most secure open-source network
Renewablox COO Jason Deane, a long-time, large-scale Bitcoin miner, believes that
“what we think or feel about Ordinals is entirely irrelevant. The Bitcoin network is a permissionless, open-source network, and like free speech, whether we agree or not, people can do what they like with it.”
“The key point is that Ordinals don’t affect Bitcoin’s ability to work as a ‘store of value’ (some would probably even argue it actually helps this part of the use case) or as a unit of account,” Deane said.
He also had his sayso regarding Ordinals:
“The content is largely irrelevant. This is about whether the world’s most secure open-source network powering the world’s hardest money should be mucking about with monkey pictures.”
Do NFTs on the Bitcoin network enable Satoshi’s original mission? Likely not. But maybe that’s not the question we should be asking. Just as fundamentalists in all religions can cling overzealously to the literal words of their founding documents, perhaps many of us––Maxi or not—have stuck too closely to the words in the Bitcoin whitepaper and lost sight of the original ideals.
When asked specifically about the “Inflation” inscriptions found on Ord.io, which are full of symbolism and openly reject the establishment and its detrimental control over money, Deane responded that
“while the content or subject matter may have some very minor leverage at persuading a certain number of people who claim to be Bitcoin purists to look upon them more favourably, the overriding feeling will be more likely defined by the whether you are for or against the concept of them being there in the first place.”
L. Asher Corson, a Bitcoin Maximalist and a UTXO Management partner, recently wrote an Op-Ed in which he says he loves Ordinals. “Other Maximalists should also consider loving Ordinals, as they demonstrate Bitcoin’s superiority in ways not previously possible,” he added.
Corson said Bitcoin Maxis understand there are no serious bitcoin contenders, nor will there ever be.
“Ordinals have the potential to enable use cases to be built natively on Bitcoin,” which would bring new users to the number one cryptocurrency.
Bitcoiner and Commerce Block CEO Gregory Nicholas agrees that Ordinals has sparked considerable debate among long-time Bitcoin enthusiasts. “The question of what constitutes spam on the Bitcoin network is as old as Bitcoin itself.”
“Any efforts by Bitcoin maximalists or OGs to halt inscriptions would be futile and contradictory to Bitcoin’s core permissionlessness and resistance to censorship principles,” Nicholas said.
He explained that there’s
“an inherent and growing interest in embedding inscriptions or metadata on a public blockchain, particularly on the most robust and extensive one like Bitcoin. This trend can be compared to the high premiums people are willing to pay for custom designs on physical gold and silver.”
If Bitcoin achieves widespread success as a medium of exchange, the market for inscriptions will naturally find its equilibrium. The cost of these inscriptions is likely to become quite niche and expensive, reflecting their unique value in the Bitcoin ecosystem, he concluded.
With Inscriptions and Ordinals in their first year, there is significant potential for greater growth and development, including Bitcoin adoption. A Galaxy Research report predicts the Bitcoin NFT marketplace built on Inscriptions and Ordinals will reach $4.5 billion by 2025.
Should the report’s prediction even come close to materialising, there will no longer be any cause for debate.
Disclaimer: This article is provided for informational purposes only. It is not offered or intended to be used as legal, tax, investment, financial, or other advice.