How could it be otherwise, the hot topics in the bitcoiner environment took place at the Bitcoin Conference 2023, an event that is taking place in Miami, Florida. On the main stage, a heated exchange of ideas centered around the Ordinals protocol and Bitcoin’s BRC-20 tokens.
The panel was called The Great Ordinal Debate and Eric Wall and Udi Wertheimer, both founders of Taproot Wizards, participated in it, an organization that promotes Ordinals non-fungible tokens (NFTs) and BRC-20 tokens. Joining them were Shinobi Monkey, freelance writer and researcher, and Spiral developer Matt Corallo. The moderator was Pete Rizzo, editor at Bitcoin Magazine.
The gathering began in earnest, with Shinobi Monkey saying that “in a way, Ordinals is an attack on Bitcoin” and commanding the members of the Taproot Wizards to “behave like adults” after they danced onto the stage. “We broke Bitcoin”, was the response from the other side.
“All these things of proving ownership of something with NFTs can be done much more efficiently with protocols like Counterparty,” Shinobi said, “but they are creating a protocol that is intentionally much less efficient,” he said.
Eric Wall took the floor and accused the anonymous speaker of being “a Karen of the blockchain”, referring to the pejorative term “Karen” used to describe authoritarian people who tell others what to do. In addition, he pointed out that protocols like Counterparty are not as efficient, as they “resort to web 2 links to save files, many of which are down.”
For his part, Matt Corallo assured that “Bitcoin is not there to prevent you from randomly throwing garbage at the blockchain”, but noted that BRC-20 tokens have a “stupidly inefficient” way of doing what they claim, unlike the Ordinals protocol. Shinobi seconded, adding that “BRC-20 is replicating Counterparty but three times more efficient for no reason.”
Wertheimer, known for his “racy” tweets in favor of the new tokens generated in Bitcoin, sarcastically and jokingly thanked “all the laser eyes for saving our jpg’s in their nodes.” Speaking a little more seriously, detailed two ways to approach the creation of tokens in Bitcoin: with an efficient protocol, “like Taproot Assets from Lightning Labs”, or use “something that works today” for users who want the BRC-20 right now.-
Bitcoin rules, the crux of the matter
Wall weighed in to claim that Segwit and Taproot allowed Ordinals and BRC-20 tokens to exist, “and all of you in this room supported” those protocol upgrades in 2017 and 2021, respectively. Shinobi Monkey replied that Segwit allowed the Lightning network to exist and that Taproot optimizes the use of multisig (multi-signatures) in Bitcoin “to lay the foundation for privacy in Lightning.”-
On the other hand, Wall said, the information that Ordinals stores in Bitcoin exists in the Witness segment, “which is the most filterable information” of what is stored on the network. “If the blockchain is full of wizard images, it will be even easier to run a node. If not, what are the protocol rules for? ”, He questioned.
With the support of the other magician on stage, Wall added that “this Wizards nonsense is possible because of you.”. “We used to say that Taproot was stupid,” Wertheimer said, adding that “when we look at the blockchain many years from now, it will be more interesting to see images of magicians than transactions of people who bought tickets for Bitcoin Magazine (sic), it has more historical value”.
Possible solutions to the “problem”
When looking for possible solutions to the discussion, Shinobi Monkey questioned that “they are not looking for better ways of doing things”. “They just sit here joking and clowning around,” he charged, though he still thinks the frenzy will eventually collapse, “because the market for collectibles like Ordinals isn’t like the market for gold.”
Eric Wall replied that they are working on it. “You don’t know what goes on behind the scenes. Me and Udi are working on a way to register the BRC-20s without them being dependent on one UTXO each,” she explained. “And what are you doing,” she replied, at the hottest moment of the talk, when Wertheimer pointed out that “the only way to solve it is to build, not to make podcasts to complain.”
For his part, Corallo opined that the creation of decentralized exchanges (DEX) in Bitcoin “is dangerous because it introduces the MEVIL, malicious version of Ethereum’s MEV (maximum extractable value). These mechanisms, which allow miners to earn more by coordinating the transactions they validate in a specific way, “increase the pressure of centralization on miners.” This was seen, he assures, when a large percentage of Ethereum validators had to comply with US laws for the software they used for the MEV, as CriptoNoticias explained.
Eric Wall shared Corallo’s concern and assured that “that’s why what we are doing in Taproot Wizards is good.” In his vision, it is better to test Bitcoin against these problems now and not that the risk is always latent. Finally, he said that he fears for Bitcoin because “Ethereum problems have been ignored for years and we don’t know anything about things like MEV”. “Learning about Ethereum would be good, they learned a lot in these years,” Corallo concluded.