Translated by RodHenrik and proofreading by danielpbarron (original).
Many friends ask me: where is Bitcoin Island? How big is it? When was it discovered? By whom? Why did you buy land on this island? Why not another island, if there are so many? Is it worthwile to live there? If I live on the island, will I make lots of money? Or lose? Is it like the island in the television series “Lost?” They say it’s an unsafe island; there are pirates who steal land! Still others warn that the island is a scam, it does not really exist, it’s all virtual, all imagination! Also I have heard that it will explode at any time, and sink into the sea, disappearing completely from night to day. Or, it is not economically feasible or self-sustaining; that the land has no value, or that it has no real utility.
The biggest nonsense I’ve ever heard, I swear, was that the island would be a grand scheme to enrich the founder and the first residents; that it could only be sustained if more and more people were living in it, indefinitely, until hour after hour, people would notice the “big scam” and sell the land at any price, causing general chaos and a mass escape.
As I am a resident and eternal admirer of this island, I will clear up some mysteries.
Welcome to Bitcoin Island!
► How did this island come into existence?
The island is still little known and little explored. It was discovered by Satoshi Nakamoto in early 2009. He is a skillful navigator, but anonymous and mysterious. No one knows for sure if it is just an individual, or if the name represents a group of visionaries. Legend has it that he was an anti-pirate, and that his goal in life had always been to discover a new island; not unlike the island of Gold, but much more modern and useful.
A magic air hovers on the island because it has some really unusual and unprecedented properties. In fact, it is so very technological that it is easily confused with magic.
“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”
— Arthur C. Clarke
I spoke of the Lost island earlier because it has mysterious characteristics similar to those of Bitcoin Island. The main difference is that the island of Lost is fictitious and virtual, whereas Bitcoin Island is real, despite being digital. But in common, little is known about who discovered the islands, although there is much speculation. It has no central command. It has no president, king or governor. It isn’t dominated by any gang, mafia, criminal organization or state. It doesn’t belong to a single person or entity. Bitcoin island is a set of small and large property fragments. It is like Gold island, but with an emphasis on freedom.
► Where is Bitcoin Island?
The island does not have a fixed geographical location or center; there is no single point on the map. It is part of the digital dimension, which is difficult to abstract and understand; it’s at various points around the globe simultaneously. To be exact, currently (May, 2015) it is located at about 6`000 points spread over the globe. And it moves! It comes out of one place and enters another, all the time and very quickly. Each point contains the entire island.
It is difficult to understand, but the entire island is located in several places at once, and moving. This is one of the many properties that make the island so special.
Here is a photo-shaped “heat map” showing where the island is right now (May 22, 2015 at 03:37 EDT) on the globe:
► What is the size of Bitcoin Island?
It has 21 million square kilometers (4.11% of the land area, or 21 trillion m² – bits), with only 14 million square kilometers having been explored to date (approx 66%). The unexplored areas are difficult to access and no one has yet managed to reach them. The explored area, some parts are very busy, exchanging owners at all times, and other parts have been reserved and remain intact.
► Is it possible to know who is the owner of each area?
This is another interesting feature of the island: for not having a central control, all property is anonymously registered in a decentralized manner.
One notable difference to other islands, such as the Gold Island, is that physical force was needed in order to secure property. From its beginning, Bitcoin Island has plasma shields that protect solidly every bit of property; unathorized access is denied by the construction of the system.
On the well-reserved areas which remain intact, it is not possible to know if the owners have died, or if they have simply lost access to it, or if they keep it to use as a “summer home.” The owner is granted access by way of a special key called the “private key.” This private key is nothing but a code, and can be anything: it can be a large number, words or phrases. That’s all the owner needs to store carefully, and he can store this in his mind, a piece of paper or in encrypted digital form.
In the busiest areas it is not possible to identify who the owners are, but you can see them transfer property amongst each other.
All reserved area has a public address which is a sort of identification code. It looks something like this: 1LipeR1AjHL6gwE7WQECW4a2H4tuqm768N and its owner is not known by default, although he can publish a signed message in order to establish a relationship between himself and the coresponding property.
In the example above, this code is an area that belongs to me, and the owner is publicly known. But the island’s tradition is that the owner of an area is unknown.
Anyway, another very important feature is that, although I have declared that I own this address up there, no one else but me can prove definitively that I still possess access to that address. At best one could raise suspicions about the real owners, but it’s still very complicated.
The owner can, through a signed message, demonstrate that he has access to that area at any given time. That’s how he can transfer his property to other possible interested parties after a negotiation. But it can’t be proven that he has not lost access right away. Imagine that the private key, the secret code that gives access to the owner, is stored on a piece of paper. Now imagine that this paper has caught fire. In this case, the owner no longer has access to the private area, and no one can prove otherwise. This feature allows for extra protection against pirates or central governments trying to extort the victim to steal or confiscate his land.
Here is an example of proof that I have access to the address 1LipeR1AjHL6gwE7WQECW4a2H4tuqm768N. I have signed the header for block height 357652, which is 000000000000000003bee311c38ead2b8b6b9d5465f5612e95dce5193a0a50d1 resulting in: HMcYZN5mfF2kR7tn1J8llv3KmJOPuf/kDrm+tqPPH5MzHcDkuey6LHQCyqDRGLE2biS+syNr5Ds82juz9abPyZk=
Any person, even if not an island resident, can verify mathematically through this digital signature that I still possess access to that address at least so far, on May 23, 2015 at 00:51 EDT.
► Can new areas be discovered or exploited?
As the current time (May, 2015) there is still about 44% unexplored area, or approx. 7 million square kilometers. The island attracts the attention of more and more explorers and bounty hunters who make tireless search for new lands, seven days a week, 24 hours a day.
It is estimated quite accurately that the island will be fully exploited in the year 2140. But in 2030, 99% of it will have already been discovered, and in 2040 about 99.8%.
These explorers face dangers, and it is very difficult to tame these new lands; currently only very qualified professionals with a lot of investment can find something. To find them, some take ownership and move over there. Others raffle off the area and pass the pieces to new owners, like an old or new resident of the island, for example. In exchange for the newly discovered land, these explorers seek some other land on another island of their choice, or even exchange for other goods and services in general.
Some explorers are not actually concerned with living in Bitcoin Island; they are only interested in the reward, but prefer the security and stability of an older island such as Gold Island. They might also prefer an island controlled by a criminal organization, like Real Island, run by the corrupt Vilma mafia, or Dollar Island, commanded by Ocama’s mafia.
► Who is in charge of the island’s security?
These explorers are often called “miners”, which is a reference to the mineral explorers. They are very important to the island because they make it safe. By moving quickly around the island in search of new lands, they guard against the pirates and thieves. They also take fuel (large batteries charged) for the island’s decentralized equipment, ensuring that the intricate technology continues to function beautifully.
But what when there is no more land to be explored? How then will the safety of the island be ensured? What will be the incentive to provide “security” when the lands have been exhausted? Although there is no central government, there is an optional collaborative fee that most island residents voluntarily contribute in order to maintain their security. This rate is distributed among all explorers. Every time an area of land changes hands, the previous owner can separate a small (insignificant) sub-area to distribute to all explorers. As a small — but sufficient — part of the island is quite busy and exchanging owners at all times, small added optional fees become significant and feed the explorers, who also make the island safe.
► When was the island discovered?
A map was published openly in November of 2008 with all the technological instructions for its construction. That’s right: the island did not exist in nature before. To be more precise: this kind of island, fabulous and with “special powers”, simply did not exist in any way! None at all. Despite having been released only in 2009, the map was found and used to build the first fabulous island, then named Bitcoin Island.
Satoshi Nakamoto has figured out how to get to the island, and to build its technological gear which has proved so far quite efficient and practical; it has amazing features that attract many new residents all the time.
Before 2009, there was no fabulous island. Just the ordinary and outdated, like Gold Island and Dollar Island.
► What is the Island worth?
It’s difficult to determine an accurate value because the lands are traded at all times on worldwide free markets. Areas of Bitcoin Island are traded for areas in other islands. The price per unit of land on Bitcoin Island is the highest, but its total value is dwarfed by other islands.
To give you an idea: right now, on May 23, 2015, 1 km² (1 BTC) or 1 million m² (1M bit) of Bitcoin Island can be exchanged for approx. 760 m² of Real Island (R$ 760.00), 240 m² of Dollar Island (US$ 240.00) or 6000 m² of Gold Island (6g). And to compare the size of the islands, while Bitcoin Island has 21 million square kilometers (21M BTC), the Royal Island has 3 million square kilometers (3T R$), Dollar Island has 60 million square kilometers (60T US $), and Gold Island has 1.5 million km² (1.5M kg). In other words, 1 m² of Bitcoin Island is worth approx. 7.6 cm² (R$ 0.00076) of the Real Island.
To facilitate comparison – quite roughly – today, 1% of Bitcoin island can only be exchanged for 0.003520% of Real Island, 0.000057% of Dollar Island, or 0.000486% of Gold Island. Theoretically, the entire Bitcoin Island is worth approx. 0.3% of Real Island, and 0.0057% and 0.0486% of Dollar Island and Gold Island respectively. I say “theoretically” because not all the land on Bitcoin Island is for sale, and not all owners are willing to sell it at current market prices. Therefore, it is very likely that if someone tries to buy the whole island, the market price will shoot up to an exorbitant value compared to the current estimation, and no one can actually buy all the land.
This low value of land relative to the other islands is today mainly for two reasons. 1) Bitcoin Island is extremely new, virgin forest, without any infrastructure. People in general do not have the confidence to buy land or change settings. Not to mention the dangers inherent in a land little explored. It was discovered only in 2009, and above all has a technology never before seen; it is normal to distrust such a thing. As stated in the introduction, many uninformed or dishonest spread lies about the island. They create legends and myths, saying the “magic” technology is actually a great curse. 2) The land is still worth very little. This is a problem not unlike the “chicken and the egg.” Few people venture to buy land because its market value still fluctuates considerably, but the value fluctuates because so few people venture to buy and remain owners of the land.
Fewer people would consider moving to the island as I did. Thus, the island remains with little infrastructure. Its advanced technology also makes it difficult for common people; it is only attractive to geeks in general. Its current population is basically composed of explorers, nerds, technologists and courageous idealists who seek a free and futuristic earth.
► When did they start to move to the island and who currently lives in it?
The first resident of the island, of course, was Satoshi Nakamoto. It is estimated that he is the owner of about 1 million square kilometers, pioneered by himself as soon as he moved here during 2009 and 2010. The first land was very easy to explore. Low difficulty attracted other curious explorers as early as 2010. People who ventured to explore the island were unsure whether they would receive something in return, or even if the island had something special. By mid-2011, about 28% of the land had already been discovered. Other people who arrived at that time were able to buy lots of land at prices really low. In early 2011 it only took 1 m² of Dollar Island to buy 3 km² of Bitcoin Island.
The market underestimated, even more than today, the real potential of the island. Some original owners, tired of living in a sparsely populated island, got rid of thousands of square kilometers of land for ridiculously cheap prices. Some even donated hundreds of square kilometers. There was a case that ended up being famous, exactly five years ago, when an owner exchanged 10`000 square kilometers of land for a pizza, on May 22nd. Today 10`000 km² of Bitcoin Island can be exchanged for approx. 214`000 pizzas.
► What makes this island so good? Why is it good to live there? What are the advantages and disadvantages compared to other islands?
It’s really great to live on Bitcoin Island; I am personally very satisfied living here since 2012. I also have a little land on Real Island because all my family and friends live there, but I spend most of my time on Bitcoin Island. Some friend also have land around here, but few venture into moving altogether.
Besides having an incomparable beauty and several interesting features and “magic”, the island can not – by its intrinsic nature – be controlled by organizations of dubious morality, like state gangs or pirates and scammers in general. Freedom and modern technology are the two main motivations and reasons to own land or live here on the island.
Even without government or central control, the safety provided by explorers and energy from decentralized sources guarantee good, robust property rights for an individual who has laid claim to a particular piece of land.
And to exemplify the advantage of living in a free island: in 2014, 1.8 million square kilometers of land were confiscated on Real Island. In addition, these State islands can create “false papers”, i.e. print “valley land” which actually has no real corresponding land. They flood the market with “lands” that can not be exchanged for actual land. This process is called “inflation,” and does not occur on Bitcoin Island because the land is in fact guaranteed by the owners of the island’s technology and not by false papers.
It is true that free islands such as Gold Island can also be physically very beautiful. They have almost all the advantages of freedom as Bitcoin Island, and are much more traditional (have thousands of years of trust). No wonder that the land on Gold Island are worth about 2`056 times more than the lands on Bitcoin Island. But Bitcoin Island has two main advantages: 1) A time advantage. It is still very undervalued, or very inexpensive and has a huge potential. 2) It is much more modern and has a lot more interesting properties than Gold Island. It looks like a “magical island” when compared side by side.
► So… Is the island free from pirates and scammers?
Unfortunately, despite having a rock solid security structure, Bitcoin Island is not free from external attacks. A scammer can, for example, trick someone into disclosin his private key with promises of multiplying his land. Or they might simply ask the owner to hand over his key for “safe keeping.” Amazingly, out of sheer ignorance, many people end up falling for these scams by handing their keys over to third parties and losing everything. Or, some pirates surrounding the island can discover the hiding places of these keys when they are stored in digital form without adequate protection. Having keys to access, the pirates can take rightful ownership of the land. There is no central control; the transaction cannot be undone. This is one of the reasons why some people are still afraid to venture onto Bitcoin Island.
It isn’t the island’s guilt alone, but the current difficulty in manipulating the technology appropriately. However, its infrastructure is improving day by day in order to minimize these types of scams and deceptions. Private firms are working hard to create the easiest mechanisms for the secure of storage of keys, and protection against pirates while keeping the beauty of decentralization. Many people are also working to further abstract this technology and make it much more accessible.
► Ah, but what about the surrounding islands? Could they feel threatened and attack Bitcoin Island? Might they see Bitcoin Island as a strong competitor and fear that their land will be devalued over time?
Well, there are three types of islands around: other fabulous islands, the free islands, and the islands dominated by state gangs.
The fabulous islands (sometimes called alt-island or crypto-island), which emerged just after Bitcoin Island and copied the same technological model, do not have enough monetary power to mount an effective attack. Some fabulous islands were created by scammers who took possession of the original land, without giving a chance for others to explore (pre-mining). Still others just copy Bitcoin Island with no real innovation. A few added some legitimate technological novelty, but because they are more recent than the already recent Bitcoin Island, they fail to attract a minimum number of residents to maintain a minimum security. And if they have no monetary power to attack Bitcoin Island, how can they attack? Some residents of these other fabulous islands, with the hope that their land value will increase, will attack verbally by spreading the greatest possible amount of lies and rumors everywhere. The only weapon at their disposal is telling lies.
Residents of free, but not fabulous, islands (like Gold Island) usually see Bitcoin Island as a great ally. There are few residents of these islands to make verbal attacks. Gold Island would have enough monetary power to disrupt Bitcoin Island, but there never was a real interest in it.
The greatest threat to Bitcoin Island are extremely rich islands dominated by state gangs, such as Royal Island and Dollar Island. Verbal attacks from lobotomized slaves are common. Their leaders also send spies to watch all the time. Despite the island being immune to the threat of invasion, their land being well protected, as well as the identity of the owners, criminal islands are “investigating” and trying to associate the owners of the Bitcoin land to the residents of the state island. They watch all public transactions and follow negotiations having to do with the land in the state island, which are heavily regulated and monitored. When they get a clue as to who the owners are, they try to link them to victimless “crimes,” ie, violations of the strict laws controlling the gang. They create unjust reasons to confiscate land or even arrest its residents. Thus, residents of the state islands also tend to be afraid of venturing into Bitcoin Island and persecution. Chasing one by one, censoring, scaring and threatening are the most efficient methods with which state islands attack.
State-owned islands can also use your monetary strength to try to affect the decentralized mechanism of Bitcoin Island, but so far they have not bothered enough for this kind of direct attack. If one day some powerful island decides to attack Bitcoin Island that way, it could lead to some rebellion of local residents who own land here; state islands do not want to create problems – their slaves already quite desperate. The leaders of the state islands will often take a neutral or skeptical stance publicly.
► What is the current population of the island?
It is estimated that currently the island has about 1 million residents, and it has grown consistently every day. 21 km² per person on average. Of course, some residents have hundreds, thousands or even millions of km², while others have only a few m². Each managed to land at different times and in different ways, with different investments. Some bought when they were still much cheaper, or explored them when it was still easy, right there in the beginning. Others had the chance to acquire the land at the end of 2013 when there was a “boom” – a race to aquire land on the island; its value per km² reached an incredible 3000 m² of Real Island (R $ 3,000.00). Since this “boom,” lands devalued approx. 75% today! Many people moved to the island in the excitement of the moment without really knowing what it was; some even bought large amounts of land, only to eventually lose interest and then sell the land for a much lower price. All for those reasons that I have explained previously.
► How is your life on the island, and what you want from now on?
Life on the island is still a bit simple and lonely, but I intend to live here for the rest of my life. With a density of only 0.05 persons per square kilometer, it gives the impression that the island is still uninhabited. Empty in all directions. Most of my friends and family still live on Real Island. They do not come here, nor do they see much advantage, or do not have the courage to move back here. Much is still not present here, and I have to buy land on Real Island or Dollar Island to then exchange for goods and services. Despite having a real market value, many people even know that the land on Bitcoin Island has some value and therefore do not accept land here for nothing.
And although my land has devalued from 2013 until now, I never even thought about giving up this fabulous island or “donating” my land. Like many other enthusiasts and pioneers, we are here for the ideal of freedom and the twinkle brought to our eyes by this “magic” technology; not only by the market value of the land. These same people who ran the island and left everything behind will come back one day, I’m sure. When we residents build, day by day, more infrastructure, more facilities and more avenues on the island, I’m sure those whose eyes left the island will again shine as before. When people also begin to suffer more from the tyranny of the criminal leaders of state-owned islands, and begin to respond to this daily violence suffered (taxes, extortion, coercion), I’m sure that they will run here. And the residents of the old free islands like Gold Island will also migrate over here little by little, when they do see the beauty and technological advantages here.
If you want to move here some day, you can bet it will be very well received!
Felipe Micaroni Lalli
Related article: http://gendal.me/2014/03/29/welcome-to-bitcoin-island/