In the second week of January 2015, Bitcoin attracted the attention of the mainstream media. For a moment, the likes of the New York Times and The Guardian had turned their focus to the ongoing Block size scaling debate. Just like other times when Bitcoin had been in the mainstream news (Like when Mt Gox went down with 800,000 customers’ bitcoins or when Silk Road founder Ross Ulbricht was arrested), this was also occasioned by a messy episode the cryptocurrency was going through.
Mike Hearn, one of the Bitcoin core developers and whose Bitcoin XT proposal had failed to garner the support from the larger section of the Bitcoin community, as a solution to the scaling problem, had exited and in the process declared the cryptocurrency a failed experiment. Mike Hearn was nowhere near the top of the list of contributors to the bitcoin core software. However, that did not matter an iota. His long rage quit article seemed to give mainstream media the kind of fodder they like about Bitcoin.
Negative news is the news
Each of the articles that were written and published by the mainstream media about his departure seemed only to echo his assertions without putting each point he raised to any form of test.
For instance, hardly any stakeholders in the Bitcoin ecosystem or any of the remaining core developers were interviewed to give a differing view to the story. In fact, the entire idea propagated by the media that Bitcoin had no future hinged only on this one gentleman’s word. Nevertheless, no editor of the mainstream media outlets seemed to give damn.
Just this week a contrasting story on the Block size scaling debate broke out. One that might be putting the mainstream media on the spot in regards to its negative coverage of events around the Bitcoin ecosystem. Bitcoin miners with the control of over 80% of the mining power, core developers and representatives of major Bitcoin enterprises on 21st February 2016, meeting in Hong Kong, arrived at a consensus on the way forward for the network scaling process.
This should be on every news outlet
According to a statement shared, by April this year Segregated Witness (SegWit), a proposal by core developer Pieter Wuiler that will reduce the amount of data from each transaction that goes into the block, will be implemented. This will, in the meantime, create room for more transaction in the current 1MB block.
Meanwhile, a team of developers has been tasked with developing a code that will increase the size of the block size to 2MB. The code will be presented to the Bitcoin community by July 2016, but its implementation will happen by July 2017.
This sounds like the kind of news that will get the attention of the mainstream media and warrant heavy coverage. It is indeed significant news, especially if Mike Hearn’s exit did meet the standard.
But guess what; hardly any of the mainstream media outlets has picked the story. By all means, they have given it a wide berth. It has been left to the Bitcoin special news sites such as The Merkle, Coindesk and BitcoinMagazine to carry it.
This indeed gives credence to Jon Southurst’s argument that we should be wary of anything we see in the mass media. Jon, who is a Bitcoin enthusiast, writer, and analyst, stated in a recent article that Bitcoin is a spanking-new, highly-specialized topic and even those deeply involved don’t agree on many points. “So why trust a reporter who’s only given it an hour’s thought, max?” he asked.
About the Author
Rupert Hackett is the Community Manager at BuyaBitcoin.com.au. Rupert specializes in the digital currency and digital payment space and is currently studying the world’s first Master’s in digital currencies alongside entrepreneurship. He writes for multiple bitcoin and tech websites and regularly blogs for buyabitcoin.com.au
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