The Bitcoin Network and Individual Bitcoins

From the Wikipedia “Bitcoin” article:

“Bitcoin”, capitalized, refers to the protocol and transaction network whereas “bitcoin”, lowercase, refers to the currency itself.

I was not aware of that until now. And I am not sure that this is really universally understood already.

But it is certainly true that one should have different terms for the Bitcoin network and individual bitcoins to avoid confusing readers. Just like there are different words for the Internet and e-mail, which moves over the Internet infrastructure.

If so, spelling “Bitcoin” capitalized when talking about the network and as “bitcoin” when talking about coins is a step in the right direction.

However, that leaves the terms still unclear for people not paying attention to the capitalization. Therefore, it is better to add the word “network” and write “Bitcoin network” when one is talking about that.

And when one is talking about individual bitcoins on the network, it is a good idea to use the plural form. That makes it clear that the statement is not about the network, since there is only one Bitcoin network.

I just went back and edited the around 50 posts on the Bitcoin network and bitcoins on this blog accordingly. I plan to pay attention to this particular detail in the future.

I also wondered how Satoshi Nakamoto dealt with that issue in the original Bitcoin paper.

I was surprised to find that the term “Bitcoin” only appears once in that paper, in the title. Whenever Nakamoto is talking about individual bitcoins, he just uses the word “coins”.

Published by kflenz

Professor at Aoyama Gakuin University, Tokyo. Author of Lenz Blog (since 2003, lenzblog.com).

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