Mastering Bitcoin: Programming the Open Blockchain 2nd Edition
Writing the Bitcoin Book
I first stumbled upon bitcoin in mid-2011. My immediate reaction was more or less â€œPfft! Nerd money!â€ and I ignored it for another six months, failing to grasp its importance. This is a reaction that I have seen repeated among many of the smartest people I know, which gives me some consolation. The second time I came across bitcoin, in a mailing list discussion, I decided to read the whitepaper written by Satoshi Nakamoto to study the authoritative source and see what it was all about. I still remember the moment I finished reading those nine pages, when I realized that bitcoin was not simply a digital currency, but a network of trust that could also provide the basis for so much more than just currencies. The realization that â€œthis isnâ€™t money, itâ€™s a decentralized trust network,â€ started me on a four-month journey to devour every scrap of information about bitcoin I could find. I became obsessed and enthralled, spending 12 or more hours each day glued to a screen, reading, writing, coding, and learning as much as I could. I emerged from this state of fugue, more than 20 pounds lighter from lack of consistent meals, determined to dedicate myself to working on bitcoin.
Two years later, after creating a number of small startups to explore various bitcoin-related services and products, I decided that it was time to write my first book. Bitcoin was the topic that had driven me into a frenzy of creativity and consumed my thoughts; it was the most exciting technology I had encountered since the internet. It was now time to share my passion about this amazing technology with a broader audience.
This book is mostly intended for coders. If you can use a programming language, this book will teach you how cryptographic currencies work, how to use them, and how to develop software that works with them. The first few chapters are also suitable as an in-depth introduction to bitcoin for noncodersâ€”those trying to understand the inner workings of bitcoin and cryptocurrencies.
Why Are There Bugs on the Cover?
The leafcutter ant is a species that exhibits highly complex behavior in a colony super-organism, but each individual ant operates on a set of simple rules driven by social interaction and the exchange of chemical scents (pheromones). Per Wikipedia: â€œNext to humans, leafcutter ants form the largest and most complex animal societies on Earth.â€ Leafcutter ants donâ€™t actually eat leaves, but rather use them to farm a fungus, which is the central food source for the colony. Get that? These ants are farming!
Although ants form a caste-based society and have a queen for producing offspring, there is no central authority or leader in an ant colony. The highly intelligent and sophisticated behavior exhibited by a multimillion-member colony is an emergent property from the interaction of the individuals in a social network.
Nature demonstrates that decentralized systems can be resilient and can produce emergent complexity and incredible sophistication without the need for a central authority, hierarchy, or complex parts.
Bitcoin is a highly sophisticated decentralized trust network that can support myriad financial processes. Yet, each node in the bitcoin network follows a few simple mathematical rules. The interaction between many nodes is what leads to the emergence of the sophisticated behavior, not any inherent complexity or trust in any single node. Like an ant colony, the bitcoin network is a resilient network of simple nodes following simple rules that together can do amazing things without any central coordination.
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