Bitcoin

Ordinal Derangement Syndrome (ODS) Is a Real Phenomenon

5 Mins read


Ordinal Derangement Syndrome (ODS) is a real phenomenon. As a neutral observer from Bitcoin Magazine, I aim to address the misconceptions and dismissive attitudes toward Ordinals in the Bitcoin community, revealing the overlooked complexities and potential within what I term ‘Ordinal Derangement Syndrome’ (ODS).

ODS emerges as a significant phenomenon within a segment of the Bitcoin community, characterized by an oversimplification and dismissive attitude toward Ordinals, often cavalier in nature. As an employee of Bitcoin Magazine, who remains neutral toward Ordinals but is tired of the baseless criticism aimed not just at our publication but at Bitcoin innovations at large, I feel compelled to share my perspective. Contrary to some assertions, our coverage does not obsess over Ordinals nor provide coverage to an unreasonable extent.

The conversation about Ordinals amongst detractors is frequently reduced to unfounded accusations of scams or spam clogging the mempool, which reflects a “mid-wit” mentality prevalent among certain Bitcoin influencers. These individuals neglect the intricate details of Ordinals, opting to leverage the topic for personal gains, such as gaining more followers or enhancing their online presence. Whether these actions are intentional or not, with deliberate manipulation being especially egregious, they indicate a superficial engagement with the technology. Such behavior fails to acknowledge the complexity of Ordinals, which merits a more detailed and considerate analysis, and thus epitomizes Ordinal Derangement Syndrome (ODS).

It’s disappointing to witness a portion of the Bitcoin community engage in such reductive discussions, particularly given the thoughtful reasoning that initially attracted many to Bitcoin. This tendency is most apparent among those who aligned with Bitcoin around 2020 — or the class of the fourth epoch — and whose understanding of Bitcoin is heavily influenced by “The Bitcoin Standard” and the literal interpretation of Satoshi’s blog posts on the Bitcoin talk forum. This approach, akin to the zealotry seen in religious fanaticism, has led to a skewed interpretation of Bitcoin Maximalism, transforming it into the sole identity of its adherents. At times, it’s almost as if those exhibiting ODS are secretly or unwittingly supporters of Bitcoin Cash (BCash) or Bitcoin SV (BSV), given their behavior.

Some context around my personal beliefs includes:

1. Ordinals (what many refer to JPEGs on Bitcoin) are dumb.

2. I understand Ordinals have subjective value.

3. Ordinals have resurfaced bitcoin scaling issues.

4. Bitcoin is resistant to Bitcoiners.

5. Bitcoin is permissionless.

I have never owned, been gifted, or intended to own an Ordinal or inscription.

Contrary to the perception of Ordinal and Bitcoin Magazine detractors, Ordinals constitute a minimal percentage of what Bitcoin Magazine covers. Since the beginning of the year, Bitcoin Magazine has published 327 articles on its website, with only 5 covering Ordinals, constituting approximately 1.5% of our published content this year.

The navigation bar on our website includes sections for Articles, PRO (market insights), Store, Conference, Mining, Learn, Books, and Buy Bitcoin. Notably, Ordinals do not have their own dedicated section. Of the 31 print issues released, only one focused on inscriptions.

Our recent print issue, entitled “The Inscription Issue,” spotlights inscriptions and Ordinals as the core of a significant cultural issue within the Bitcoin community, hence why it’s called “The Inscription ISSUE.”

Let me underscore some of our recent initiatives that demonstrate our broader primary interests and focus:

Our conference team has expanded our events to Asia and the MENA regions, specifically China and the UAE. Our conferences predominantly focus on the economic, energy, and open-source benefits of Bitcoin, making up more than 90% of the conference content.

At Bitcoin 2023, our most recent flagship event, Ordinals received minor attention:

  • Main Stage: Out of 52 talks, only 1 discussed Ordinals (the Great Ordinal Debate), representing approximately 1% focus on Ordinals.
  • Enterprise Stage: Out of 16 applicants for Pitch Day, 1 company presented on Ordinals (Ordinal Safe, which did not win), and 2 talk tracks of the 15 were focused on Ordinals, accounting for roughly 9% focus.
  • Mining Stage and Open-Source Stage: There was no focus on Ordinals.

In total, only 4 out of 128 tracks touched on Ordinals, constituting 3% of the total conference programming.

Now I don’t want to speak for The Bitcoin Conference but at Bitcoin Magazine, it is our objective to cover all facets of Bitcoin, including Ordinals. To overlook Ordinals would be irresponsible, given their impact on-chain, their potential long-term consequences, and their role in transforming UTXO and block space valuation.

As an independent media outlet we platform everyone – for the sake of discussion that meets our very public editorial guidelines in order to allow individuals to come to their own conclusions. We drive discourse and welcome competing bitcoin narratives. Being selective would make us no different than FOX News, CNN, or MSNBC.

Ordinals are controversial, and addressing controversy requires more dialogue, not less. Withdrawing from a conference or criticizing an organization due to perceived “moral superiority” often reflects underlying issues like pandering, grifting, or lack of intellectual rigor.

While some might interpret this perceived moral high ground as stemming from “compassion for no-coiners or those new to Bitcoin,” it’s crucial to examine the situation more critically, as it often reflects dynamics similar to US Far Left Progressive Cancel Culture. Comparing these political phenomena to the unfolding politics within the Bitcoin community, one can notice the rise of “Bitcoin wokisms” and purity tests, increasingly regarded as thought leadership. To understand the potential direction of this trend, one can observe the impact of cancel culture in the United States. Here, concepts like Safe Spaces, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI), and Make America Great Again (MAGA) have been paralleled with Bitcoin narratives:

  • Safe Spaces are similar to those who demand for filtering bitcoin transactions.(#FixTheFilters). You could also compare ‘filterbois’ to COVID-19 vaccine mandate advocates.
  • The universal potential for Bitcoin adoption and advancement has been overshadowed by pejorative accusations of scamming towards those proposing scaling solutions. Similar to how DEI argues for equitable outcome, many bitcoiners are claiming that transacting on mainchain bitcoin is also equitable.
  • Calls to solidify Bitcoin’s current state echo the MAGA movement, advocating for no change or reversion to “better times.”

Much like how the term “Nazi” has been appropriated by the far left and MAGA types were disillusioned into thinking that the economy under Trump was “just fine,” we’re witnessing a similar appropriation of the words “scam,” “spam,” and “shitcoin,” with most uses being based on opinion rather than fact.

Such dilution of terms diminishes their meaning and legitimacy, leads to imprecision in public discourse, and undermines the identification of real threats. This is regrettable because, within the context of Ordinals, there are genuine scams, including artificially inflated marketplaces and affinity scams disguised as Ordinal projects run by proponents of Bitcoin SV. Rather than highlight differences, the focus has shifted to pejorative arguments against Ordinals, rather than engaging in discourse about the technical underpinnings and how we even got here in the first place, which is a far larger issue. I’m looking at all of you Bitcoin twitter folk who larped for Taproot with green square emojis!

ODS has also resulted in the emerging tendency to use Ordinals as a basis and excuse to overlook Bitcoin’s non-monetary applications, which is deeply troubling. This perspective conveniently overlooks Bitcoin’s significant innovation in leveraging stranded energy to lower emissions and secure the network and additionally, it disregards Bitcoin’s capabilities in enabling proof of existence, providing timestamping solutions, facilitating decentralized domain name systems, supporting immutable messaging, and enhancing decentralized identity verification.

While Bitcoin is primarily money, ignoring its other functionalities is shortsighted and misguided. It’s critical to acknowledge and explore the full spectrum of Bitcoin’s applications, as restricting our view to its financial aspect alone is a limited approach.

Moreover, the belief that Bitcoin’s global adoption will mirror the individual discovery journey of its 2020 (or 4th halving) cohort is a narrow perspective. It’s essential to recognize that the path to widespread acceptance and use of Bitcoin may be as diverse and multifaceted as its potential applications. Dismissing the evolving nature of Bitcoin’s adoption and utility risks sidelining oneself from the ongoing developments and conversations, especially in a permissionless environment.

Canceling discourse does not challenge discourse.

Don’t be a victim of ODS. 


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