[Bitcoin-development] "bits": Unit of account

Mike Caldwell mcaldwell at swipeclock.com
Sun Apr 20 18:11:18 UTC 2014

It is a paradigm that is easy to explain and grasp for neurotypical people. 

The average mind has no problem overloading words and distinguishing the intended meaning from context. For most people, overloading a single syllable word with a new meaning is much less complicated than using a unique 3+ syllable word like satoshi or micro-anything.

Doing software development warps our minds to demand fully qualified names for everything. We know our compilers would say "bit? Fatal error 0xaaabbbbwtf, can't continue, not sure if you mean a Boolean or a dog bite".  But this peculiarity should not be projected onto the people we are trying to get bitcoin to appeal to, not if we want them to feel like we think about their experience. 

If I were to say "a Bitcoin can be divided into a million bits", less than 0.1% of average joes would think I was talking about German beers or the thing that goes in horses mouths. Really, most people are good at using context to relate this to "a dollar can be divided into 100 cents" and accepting it.  This requires much less of their mind resources than using SI prefixes correctly or learning 3 syllable words that (to them) have no instantly apparent relationship to Bitcoin. 


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On Apr 20, 2014, at 11:44 AM, "Arne Brutschy" <abrutschy at xylon.de> wrote:

>> I propose that users are offered a preference to denominate the
>> Bitcoin currency in a unit called a bit. Where one bitcoin (BTC)
>> equals one million bits (bits) and one bit equals 100 satoshis.
> There have been many proposals for more or less arbitrary subunits. What
> would be the merit of your proposal? I don't really follow the reasoning
> that it's better if it's uncommon for everyone rather than just uncommon
> for people not used to metric units.
> Regarding the label of a "bit": I have to agree with the others that bit
> is heavily overused as a unit, but I am a computer scientist, so I don't
> have the "average joe's" perspective on this. I find it weird to use as
> it's already in use in English - "a bit of work" etc

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