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Nashville Bitcoin Meetup
Earlier this month, I spoke at the monthly Bitcoin Meetup at Bitcoin Park in Nashville. If you haven't been to Bitcoin Park, I recommend you go, or find a way to convince your family to make a cross-country trip and stop in Nashville (as I did). Bitcoin Park is possibly the best Bitcoin facility that I've seen, even, if I dare say, better than Bitcoin Commons in Austin, which I know and love. A group of Bitcoiners bonded together to acquire twin mansions next to each other that were formerly occupied by musicians. As such, the sound dampening is impressive, perfect for podcasting. Citadel Dispatch runs out of Bitcoin Park, and many Bitcoin companies have offices there.
I served on a panel on “Bitcoin in Academia” along with the chair of the Department of Economics at the University of Mississippi. We discussed everything under the sun: the birth of my Bitcoin class, free market economics, challenges operating within the educational bureaucracy, value for education, Bitcoin maximalism, and a variety of other topics. The conversation was spirited and lively, and I was pleased to trade war stories with my colleague in arms. I'll briefly share the main points I made:
Frame Bitcoin as an evolution, not a revolution. We all know the ideas behind Bitcoin lead to a tectonic shift in the financial system. But I prefer a Trojan horse approach. In my case, I needed approval for my class from a wide circle of colleagues, many of whom are partial to blockchain, not Bitcoin. Instead of coming out defiant, I argued that Bitcoin offers hands-on coding that no other class does, and this is ultimately what got the class approved. Bitcoin is the natural evolution of the Internet and, therefore, a natural next step for students to learn. These arguments win and, I believe, should be used throughout Bitcoin adoption.
College is here to stay, at least for now. Should you send your kids to university? I still think so. Young people from the ages of 18 to 22 still need a place to go and stay out of trouble, and college is that place. I don't see the edifice of higher education crumbling in my generation, but I possibly eroding in the next. So yes, send your kids to college, but maybe not your grandkids.
The Talent War is Coming. One experiment I ran was that I created a battery of tests for my graduate students in computer science to recruit them as TA’s. These tests are hard, requiring a deep knowledge of Bitcoin that you wouldn't have unless you dedicated 50+ hours to self-study. Our graduate students in computer science, mostly from India and China, are the largest population of graduate students at Texas A&M, with nearly over 2000+ students.
I am impressed with how much these master’s students from India and China know about Bitcoin and how little my American undergraduates know. It reminds me that the pool of talent in the world is wide and deep, and Americans only have so long that they can stay protected by the legacy economic and educational system that allows them to capture outsize returns. The talent war is coming, day by day, and I have a front row seats to it through the lens of teaching Bitcoin.
This semester I'm happily teaching two classes on Bitcoin. The first is "The Bitcoin Protocol", my coding class from the spring. The second is a new class called “Bitcoin: Accounting for Digital Transactions”. It's a clunky title but necessary for the class to win approval from the state of Texas CPA board. (Remember the Trojan horse!)
The class is a small seminar for seniors on their last lap around the campus. They will learn about Bitcoin at a non-technical level, closing the gap between public conversation about crypto, which is broad and generic, and real knowledge about Bitcoin, which can be technical and intimidating. This, I believe, is a great opportunity in Bitcoin education, and this semester is my chance to chase after that. I'll have a post soon about the class, especially some of the speakers coming through.