On March 1st 2021, the world has witnessed the launch of the Bitcoin Voicepaper project: a 24-minute video which features 159 bitcoiners who take turns in reciting Satoshi Nakamoto’s groundbreaking (and provably open source) whitepaper.
This remarkable coordinated effort was created by artist Dim Zayan, and the community liked the idea so much that it quickly gained traction. Along the way, Daniel Prince, Sir Badders, Richard James, Soulexporter, Microchad, and Stackmore have decided to selflessly lend their time and energy to the execution of the project. Their contributions in audio and video editing, as well as advocacy and recruitment, can be seen in the impressive final release.
The supply of words also reflected the nature of Bitcoin. The Bitcoin whitepaper (also known as “Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System”) only has 9 pages and 12 chapters. Due to this scarcity, the document needed to get divided in parts and sub-sections. And since there was a lot of demand, the smallest unit became the word – this is why so many participants ended up having minor, yet significant contributions.
The Real Significance of the Voicepaper Project
To outsiders, the Voicepaper project might look like a fun PR stunt or a weird flex. 159 people getting together and reading the document which proposed the first real solution to the double-spending problem is definitely a power move.
But everything started on January 20th 2021, when Craig S. Wright claimed ownership of the Bitcoin ownership and issued legal threats to the maintainers of the Bitcoin Core project. Basically, the Australian scholar has told developers to take down the whitepaper from the Bitcoin Core website.
Finding themselves with their backs against the ropes, the reclusive and opsec-conscious developers have quickly complied with the request. They were fully aware that the document already exists in many other places and didn’t want to get dragged into court to risk getting exposed to public harassment like Dorian Nakamoto. After all, some of them never even posted a picture of themselves on the internet and never talk about their whereabouts.
This is where the community stepped in. A day later, Bitcoin.org domain owner Cobra has written a blog post to describe the situation. His message was simple: “we won’t be silenced or intimidated”. Also, he encouraged other bitcoiners to host the whitepaper on their websites.
What followed was a powerful display of Bitcoin’s immune system. From btctkvr.com to the city of Miami, everyone started hosting the Bitcoin whitepaper. It was a reminder of the open source nature of the document, but also a way of showing that the Bitcoin community is resilient and stands up to defend its principles and developers.
The Voicepaper project started recruiting volunteers around the same time, but launched more than a month later. Among the participants you will find community members of all celebrity and wealth statuses, ages, races, and sexes. When facing an external threat, we’re all nodes that enforce consensus rules.
They may have the lawyers, but we have the nodes, the conviction, and the numbers.
We shouldn’t be surprised that a project that was started by a previously-obscure community member like Dim Zayan has received support from cypherpunks like Adam Back and Nick Szabo, developers like Andrew Poelstra, Christian Decker, Rockstardev and Rusty Russell, human rights activists like Alex Gladstein, big investors like Cory Kilppsten and Michael Saylor, business developers like Elizabeth Stark and John Carvalho, and mainstream media celebrities like Max Keiser and Stacy Herbert. Bitcoin is a project which unites millions of people across all walks of life.
So it doesn’t matter how many coins we own, how many times we were featured in the media, or how and where we were born. It doesn’t even matter what we look like – as many participants have chosen to hide their faces and modulate their voices. It’s all about defending a decentralized, permissionless, stateless, objective, immutable, and universally-inclusive network from social and political attacks.
The story is far from being over and we shouldn’t be surprised if more attacks emerge. But as long as we defend the open source nature of the project and we have the immutable facts on our side, no court of law is going to hurt us or the project.
Dim Zayan about the Voicepaper Project
I’ve reached to Dim Zayan to ask him to comment on the significance of the project and the creative process which led to the Voicepaper video. He said the following:
“The project is part of an art projects series called house of WaaS, where I am exploring the emotional connection to Bitcoin. Part I is a piece about the individual symbiosis where I memorize the whole whitepaper and shout it out in the wilderness. Part II is about the communal symbiosis, a celebration of the Bitcoin community to showcase its unity and diversity. And that’s the idea behind the Voicepaper.
I was not really ready for it, as Part I isn’t finished yet. But the whole story with Craig’s attack precipitated things, so I thought it was time to launch the project. After I publicly announced my plans, I was completely stunned by the positive response and everyone’s will to contribute.
I mean, as you witnessed, everything happened in a snap. Within a couple of days, almost all lines were taken by enthusiastic bitcoiners, and a whole team of talents were ready to help with production. Richard James, Badders, Soulexporter, Microchad, Daniel Prince, and Stackmore have all brought their own skills to the project. And I’m grateful for it. In hindsight, I don’t think I would have been able to pull it off without them. Coordinating 160 people’s requests and scheduling across the globe isn’t an easy feat. But all in all, it went pretty smoothly, in spite of asking a few people to improve their takes and keeping some kind of quality control.”
Voicepaper participants who were also guests on the Bitcoin Takeover Podcast (in order of appearance in the video)
Rodolfo Novak (S4 E10)
Gigi (S3 E6)
Karo Zagorus (S2 E5)
Mir (S7 Special)
CK Snarks (S3 E10)
FF2K (S2 E9)
Stephen Chow (S7 E1)
Katoshi & Hodlonaut (S7 E10)
Giacomo Zucco (S2 E8)
Max Hillebrand (S6 E6)
Brekkie von Bitcoin (S1 E9)
Udi Wertheimer (S2 E2)
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