This is an opinion editorial by Andrew Keir, author of a daily newsletter, where he dives deep into the transformational nature of Bitcoin.
The concept of a walled garden is not new; they have been around for hundreds, if not thousands of years. A valuable garden surrounded by high walls serves several purposes, including protection from animal or human intruders. These walled gardens also create microclimates, which allow specific things to grow and flourish that might otherwise not be possible due to the temperate climate outside the walls.
It’s no secret that walled gardens are at the core of every major software company’s strategy, and they’re built around it to generate and maintain a network effect.
Any Apple user knows firsthand how trapped you are in the ecosystem, due to the way their products interact together, but also due to the friction that is introduced when using a non-Apple product. . This gives Apple incredible power as we can see with their App Store, where they have complete control over who can enter and who cannot. It also creates the need for new Apple-specific products so you can maintain a consistent user interface, which is central to the walled garden approach. The same goes for Google, Microsoft, Facebook and most other software giants. Many people use social media platforms as if it were the internet itself. These platforms are masterful at keeping you inside their gardens and doing everything they can to extend the time you spend within their walls. If it was up to them, you would never leave.
Basically, they do this by designing incentives. Presumably they are trying to add value, making their products as good and as easy to use as possible, so you just want to use them over others. It would seem that they also allow some friction by not using their products to dissuade you from exploring other options and therefore leaving their ecosystem. One of the best examples of this is Apple’s software interfaces, where many people fear having to “learn” to navigate another company’s interface and migrate their pictures, contacts, messages, etc. The reality is that as humans, we are (in most cases) lazy animals, and a dominant majority of people will follow the path of least resistance. So, due to the incentives, they stay inside the walls of Apple. Over time, the walls begin to look more like a cage.
In the same way that these software giants create walled gardens and strive to keep us indoors, so do governments and central banks with political monetary systems. Central banks issue money and the government insists that this money be accepted. The fiat system is a classic example of a walled garden. The difference is that outside the fiat garden walls of governments and their central banks, there are armed soldiers.
The software giants – while they do everything to entice you to stay in their backyard and exploit all your vulnerabilities to make leaving as unattractive as possible – can’t stop you, and if you exercise your free will, you can leave and never come back. This is not the case with the fiat walled garden. If you try to leave and venture outside the walls or even explore another walled garden, they want to know where you’ve been, why you left, and every possible detail about your interactions while you were gone. For fiat masters, that’s their business. You are not just free to explore.
The fiat standard is a walled garden, and unlike software vendors, it’s an area you’re confined to by fiat. By force. Outside this garden is the open, permissionless, abundant environment of bitcoin. Fiat masters rely on the height of the walls, and the gunmen on the other side will be able to disrupt you by scaling the walls and exploring the vast land abundant outside. What they didn’t count on, however, was that the invisible force of bitcoin could penetrate and then dissolve those walls, and help humanity flourish inside and outside the garden. This invisible force is everywhere and it is nowhere, and it is the key to an abundant future. With bitcoin, there are no walls. No borders. The very notion of an enclosed garden is no longer possible. Or conversely, it is the ultimate garden in which no walls exist.
This is a guest post by Andrew Keir. The opinions expressed are entirely their own and do not necessarily reflect those of BTC Inc. or Bitcoin Magazine.