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The Cultural Shift Towards Building on Bitcoin

At the Stacks Building on Bitcoin virtual conference, Trust Machines made the case for building on the Bitcoin network and improving upon its scalability.
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Muneeb Ali Speaks at Building on Bitcoin 2023 Digital Event
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This is shaping up to be the Year of Bitcoin.

The Ordinals protocol has, over the last few months, given the Bitcoin community a renewed sense of purpose as builders have flocked to the Bitcoin ecosystem. This influx also includes builders from newer blockchain ecosystems, many of whom have returned to Bitcoin to explore the new possibilities that exist with Bitcoin as the base layer for decentralized applications (dApps).

This has, in turn, created a Bitcoin Renaissance of sorts that has led to a cultural shift within the Bitcoin community. At the Building on Bitcoin virtual conference on April 19 hosted by Stacks, many speakers delved into how this cultural transformation has developed over the last few months, and its potential positive impact on the Bitcoin ecosystem going forward.

From Ordinals to rollups and, more recently, Bitcoin Stamps, the Bitcoin Renaissance of 2023 is in full swing. Our Trust Machines teams made an appearance at the Building on Bitcoin virtual summit to discuss what the future holds for Bitcoin and Bitcoin users. 

We’ll dive into what they had to say.

The New Bitcoin Blockchain Renaissance

So how has Bitcoin culture evolved over time, and what kind of culture would benefit the Bitcoin network the most?

Rena Shah, Head of Operations and Strategy at Trust Machines, sought to answer that question alongside Taproot Wizards’ Udi Wertheimer, Jack Liu of Ordswap, and the creator of the Bitcoin STAMPS protocol Mike in Space in a panel titled “Bitcoin’s Cultural Renaissance.” The panel was moderated by Trevor Owens, general manager of the Bitcoin Frontier Fund.

There, the speakers and their moderator reminisced about their early days in the Bitcoin ecosystem, and the changes that they have seen over the past few years. They also addressed how new developments in the space (like Ordinals and Bitcoin Stamps) have transformed how people see and interact with the community.

Shah, for her part, revealed that she was introduced to Bitcoin in 2013 while working as a petroleum engineer. She was initially drawn to Bitcoin as it was a digital asset that turned traditional concepts of commodities and value on their head. However, her fascination with the Bitcoin blockchain never died, in part because of the Bitcoin community’s growth.

Shah did, however, point out that despite all the new and exciting developments that have occurred in the last few months, there are still divisions that exist within the Bitcoin community. 

That begged the question: what should Bitcoin culture be?

To that, Shah emphasized the need to “shift fast, build fast,” especially in an environment like crypto and web3 that moves so quickly. “[We need to try] all of these experiences to see what works and what doesn’t. We can pivot…let us [build the cool things] we need.”

Ultimately, Bitcoin has always been a rapidly evolving space. While Ordinals, rollups, and Bitcoin Stamps have, over the past few months, revived much of the conversation surrounding the Bitcoin blockchain’s use cases and capabilities, Bitcoin builders have remained dedicated to innovating on the chain. The recent developments have only emphasized what is needed to develop at a more rapid pace, as more and more people join the ecosystem, including from newer blockchains like Ethereum and Solana.

In fact, much of the panel focused on what is also needed to properly welcome the new influx of builders and community members into the space. Mike in Space, for example, emphasized the need for additional tools, use cases and – ahead of next year’s Bitcoin Halving event – a fee market to empower users to put their BTC to use. 

Why Build on Bitcoin?

Trust Machines CEO and Stacks project co-creator Muneeb Ali drew the summit to a close with remarks that addressed the potential impact of Bitcoin, and the current landscape for the Bitcoin blockchain.

Ultimately, he stressed that Bitcoin is poised to become “more powerful than ever.” If anything, Bitcoin layers and developments like the Ordinals protocol make one thing clear: Bitcoin is programmable, and creating the tools to make it so will help the native Bitcoin network reach its full potential.

Bitcoin, as a reminder, has become a $500 billion asset class, but much of that value is yet to be unlocked. Scaling solutions with Bitcoin layers – like the Liquid network, Lightning Network and Stacks – are just some examples of efforts to improve scalability for Bitcoin developers to build on top of Bitcoin, and to improve the blockchain's infrastructure when it comes to throughput.

Ali also stated that sustaining the enthusiasm and latest cultural shift is integral to achieving the goal of putting BTC in the hands of more than a billion people around the world. 

“This is our time to make a mark on the history of Bitcoin.”

The Future of Bitcoin

The use cases and capabilities of Bitcoin are forever expanding.

The Building on Bitcoin virtual summit itself covered everything from how to grow the Bitcoin developer ecosystem to the future of NFTs on Bitcoin. It emphasized how the existing Bitcoin DeFi landscape is already transforming how people engage with financial institutions, and how blockchain technology is already touching lives. It also gave a glimpse into the future, particularly by exploring the use cases that could come with the eventual launch of infrastructure developments like sBTC.

But most importantly, the latest cultural shift in Bitcoin has proven one thing: Bitcoin is, gradually, no longer being seen as simply a store of value. It also isn't simply for peer-to-peer transactions, but an ideal platform for building everything from wallets to applications on Bitcoin. 

BTC has long been coveted as a cryptocurrency whose consensus mechanism and design has made it a model for system decentralization. Bitcoin has remained the most popular blockchain, with many around the world depending on the security of Bitcoin's blockchain to carry out transactions. 

However, the blockchain network is meant for much more than that, and builders should be encouraged and empowered to continue pushing the limits of Bitcoin.