TL;DR: Filmmaker Torsten Hoffmann released his long-anticipated documentary, Cryptopia: Bitcoin, Blockchains and the Future of the Internet, a project two years in the making. It features recognizable heavy-hitters in the cryptocurrency ecosystem, from Andreas Antonopoulos to Roger Ver. For peer-to-peer electronic cash enthusiasts, Cryptopia gives a substantive hearing to the scaling debate and the growing menace of BTC maximalists.
Bitcoin Scaling Debate Gets Substantive Hearing in Cryptopia
CoinSpice was sent an early screener link for a review of the new documentary, Cryptopia. It’s an updated look at the cryptocurrency phenomenon for beginners and those with a basic understanding of the subject matter. Cryptopia goes well with Hoffmann’s earlier documentary, Bitcoin: The End Of Money As We Know It.
Five years after, Hoffmann is back to examine the industry changed by half a decade, utterly different, yet lingering in some respects. In 2015, the ecosystem was largely unified and pushing behind BTC, attaching hopes and dreams of defeating governments’ monopoly on money, hoping bitcoin would become an accepted medium of exchange. Hoffmann’s value as a director is in being literate. He was there. He has seen the changes.
That advantage gives Cryptopia less of an outsider-looking-in feel, which can tend to veer on the pornographic (we’re seen as deviants, weirdos, to most doc makers). Hoffmann’s acuity also means, if he is intellectually honest, giving a fair sizing up of what has transpired in that time. And while he devotes a lot of attention to the shiny new things such as alternative cryptocurrencies, the ambiguous Web 3.0 hype, decentralized finance (DeFi), and the myriad of businesses that’ve cropped up in half a decade, he does not skip over BTC maximalism nor the scaling debate.
Watch the Documentary on Cryptocurrency; Pay in Fiat
So far that I can tell, he’s the first filmmaker of his caliber to deal with those issues at all. Hoffmann trots around the globe in Cryptopia, from Hong Kong, Japan, Australia, Germany, Switzerland, US, and the UK, and I wondered if he ever bothered to book his flights with crypto. He doesn’t say, so probably no. He then takes viewers through the usual explanation of what crypto is in order to bring newbies up to speed (super high points to Hoffmann for mentioning checksums — that too seems to be a first).
Bitcoin.com founder and Executive Chair Roger Ver is Cryptopia‘s first profile. He’s Bitcoin Jesus all over again, and several luminaries give Ver his due, crediting him with spreading Bitcoin adoption. Hoffmann guides watchers through the evolving digital cash meme, the defining narrative for most early Bitcoiners — many of whom remain animated by the idea to this day. Skeptics such as David Gerard are given time, and then the usual litany of Silk Road, Venezuela, Jamie Dimon, and Xapo’s Swiss vault (it was cool to see inside) are covered.
At around the 31:00 mark, Cryptopia documents how BTC shifted away from peer-to-peer electronic cash, and Roger Ver is cast as the main villain, Bitcoin Judas, in attempting to keep loyal to the white paper’s stated intentions. For ten minutes, the documentary focuses-in on the electronic cash debate, and does a pretty okay job at the scaling issue but appears ultimately to side with the digital gold folks (if I had to guess). On to DeFi!
Andreas Antonopoulos easily has the most screen time, and his own change away from peer-to-peer electronic cash aren’t really documented, which were enormous — again, Ver is left as a kind of the main kook or crazy person (deflation creates a seemingly insurmountable rhetorical challenge for Hoffmann). However, at the 50:00 mark, the documentary does throw some shade at the dogma of BTC maximalists … a phenomenon in grave need of more attention. It’s worth a watch, especially as a bull market begins to roar, but you’re going to have to pay in fiat, which is hilarious.
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