How Improving The UI And UX Of Bitcoin Nodes Could Benefit Everyone

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This is an opinion editorial by Ram, a twenty 12 months old pupil, soldier and storyteller.

Imagine this:

Your baby girl is fiddling with her laptop, and she’s yelling, “Wow!” and “Oh!” You wonder what’s happening. Is it a cartoon? Is it anime? Why’s she so excited?

As I, a twenty 12 months previous, write this in Singapore, about 15,000 energetic Bitcoin nodes are estimated to be operating all round the world. These nodes retailer the Bitcoin database in part/in its entirety.

With 15,000 computers storing the same database all round the world, repeatedly transmitting new transactions and new blocks to 1 another, it’s practically impossible for anyone participant to pop by and alter the record of what happened.

But when talking about Bitcoin’s future as a decentralized foreign money, Elon Musk mentioned this:

elon musk on a chat about bitcoin

“The actuality is, the common individual is not going to run a bitcoin node.” — Elon Musk, B World Conference 2021

I agree with Elon. But let me make clear.

Elon was referring to a validating node, which is kind of simple to set up.

  • Mining nodes and validation nodes serve completely different functions. (TLDR: mining nodes devour electrical energy to create “blocks” of knowledge, validating nodes examine whether the information in these blocks is accurate. Nowadays, mining nodes are referred to as miners, whereas validating nodes are simply known as nodes.) Both contribute to decentralization.
  • Setting up a validation node will not burn your home down due to high electricity utilization.
  • It’s actually straightforward and requires zero technical expertise.
  • In reality, it prices simply ~10 cents per day from electricity.
  • At the second, you want less than 7GB of storage space to arrange a pruned validation node (in which you maintain solely part of the Bitcoin transaction database, but still contribute to decentralization).

Unfortunately, the common particular person just isn’t aware of the above.

Nevertheless, Bitcoin remains the most decentralized cryptocurrency on the planet. 15,000 nodes within the context of a cryptocurrency is great, and proof of Bitcoin’s decentralization was demonstrated during the blocksize wars.

But let’s frame the context differently. Over 5,000,000,000 folks have entry to the internet right now. Suddenly, 15,000 nodes look tiny. A lot more than 15,000 folks most likely have computers with 7GB to spare. Many could even have an old laptop sitting within the garage!

For Bitcoin to realize wider and sooner adoption transferring ahead, its decentralization should be continually emphasized. One method to do this is by encouraging common people to run Bitcoin validating nodes.

We aren’t talking sufficient about this today.

Achieving This Via Node UI And UX Improvements

Even in exchanges and fee apps, UI and UX are arguably being sidelined. When it involves nodes, the UI and UX dialogue is practically non-existent.

Remember: the most important company in the world today obtained to where it is by relentlessly specializing in UI and UX. That company’s market cap is at present about six occasions bigger than Bitcoin’s.

apple showing its new design off

Image from Apple, 1998; Sourced from CNET

apple revolutionary user interfaces

Bitcoin might not be a company, however the same precept applies. It boils down to making issues more intuitive.

When it involves organising a validating node, make issues easier. And simpler. And less complicated. Installing Bitcoin Core ought to really feel like putting in a chrome extension. Or an app from Google Play. And suddenly, we’ll have folks realizing: “Hey, this node thingy is definitely tremendous simple!”

Let me clarify: organising a validating node is already simple. But simplicity and perceived simplicity are various things. Today, perceived simplicity requires effortlessness.

Next, let’s speak about how operating a validating node ought to feel.

Take block explorer web sites.

blockchain imagery

Image from

Technically, any of this info could be found on any full validating node. It’s just less intuitive and requires some technical information. The common Joe won’t acquire that data.

So, improve the UI and UX. Superimpose the block explorer websites’ interface on top of the node program. Take it a step additional. Let users see what number of nodes they’re transmitting information to, how many blocks they’ve helped validate so far, any short-term chain splits. Simpler. More interactive. And yet effortless. I’m sure there’ll be plenty of ideas on making a enjoyable UI and UX primarily based on the blockchain.

And UI and UX aren’t just essential for increased decentralization. They can change the very method in which folks get into Bitcoin.

For illustration’s sake, here’s what I think about the standard pathway of someone who will get into Bitcoin:

Hears about cryptocurrencies as a way to make fiat → will get into altcoins → will get into Bitcoin → interested in Bitcoin → goes down the rabbit gap → believes in Bitcoin → sets up a validating node.

This pathway is just one of many. But here’s my point: most of the time, organising a node happens quite late.

Here’s what an improved and intuitive node UI and UX may change that pathway into:

Hears about cryptocurrencies as a approach to make fiat → decides to install a Bitcoin validating node to get a taste of crypto’s value proposition → learns by way of interacting with the blockchain → maybe even has enjoyable → excited about Bitcoin → believes in Bitcoin → tells extra folks to install a validating node → spreads word; process loops.

A validating node is an open invitation from Bitcoin to new folks, that necessitates zero risk-taking. UI and UX improvements will promote it as such. They’ll propagate learning by way of interacting with the Bitcoin community. Education will come straight from the blockchain. Videos and articles, in spite of everything, can solely accomplish that much!

Here are a couple more UI and UX benefits:

  • It attracts non-technical of us to Bitcoin. Yes, Bitcoin is essentially the most decentralized cryptocurrency on the planet. But the folks running validating nodes are nonetheless a restricted set largely drawn from tech and finance communities. Let’s deliver over of us from other communities, too. An quick thought is NFT designers transitioning to engaged on Bitcoin’s UI and UX.
  • They cut back the inherent dangers from centralized block explorer websites.
  • This would publicize Bitcoin, the payments system. You can argue over Bitcoin the foreign money, however Bitcoin the funds system is extremely exhausting to refute, even via the lens of mainstream economics.

At this juncture, it’s worth mentioning that elevated decentralization might probably bring about certain disadvantages, too. Typical democracy issues. Decentralization among technocrats has its execs, too. But that’s another discussion.

The bottom line is: we need to be talking more about this! Much of the world still deeply misunderstands Bitcoin. The fact that the “Bitcoin is unhealthy for the climate” argument has gotten a lot traction is painful evidence. And even we Bitcoiners, all at very totally different depths of the rabbit hole, can profit from simpler interactions with the blockchain.

So speak about this in your Telegrams, Discords and of course, on Twitter. Is it feasible? Does it make sense? Is it a waste of time? Is it being actively labored on?

Let’s return to the story from the start of this piece:

Your child woman is fiddling along with her laptop, and she or he yells “Wow!” and “Oh!” You walk over and see a model new block being added to a chain of blocks previous it, in real-time. You see one chain turning into two, until the chain on prime becomes longer and longer and the chain below vanishes into flames. Your girl claps.

Now that, folks, is a imaginative and prescient price chasing.

This is a visitor publish by Ram. Opinions expressed are totally their very own and don’t necessarily replicate these of BTC Inc or Bitcoin Magazine.

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