JK Rowling probably wasn’t expecting to unleash the bitcoin community’s pent up passion and imagination when she tweeted two sentences asking about bitcoin.
But the author of the Harry Potter series did. Responding to a tweet from CoinDesk senior reporter Leigh Cuen, Rowling tweeted: “I don’t understand bitcoin. Please explain it to me.” In just two hours her tweet had spawned 1,300 replies.
It took less than three hours for her to follow up with, “I don’t think I trust this.”
Lurking below the Twitter surface is a massive community of people who tweet about almost nothing except bitcoin and cryptocurrency day in and day out, dying to use their niche know-how for the good of the world. Rowling accidentally tapped into it.
In attempts to speak Rowling’s language, many started comparing bitcoin to the wizarding world from her books.
“Remember how He Who Must Not Be Named placed 7 [horcruxes] in different objects around the world in an attempt to immortalize himself, so that no one, not even the Ministry of Magic could stop him?” Blockchain lawyer Jenny Leung tweeted.
He Who Must Not Be Named (AKA Lord Voldemort) thought it would be unlikely that anyone could find all seven horcruxes, making him impervious to destruction.
Similarly, under the hood, bitcoin is composed of thousands of nodes around the globe running the bitcoin software (although the number might be decreasing). It is hard to shut down because all of these nodes need to be shut down at once to derail the online currency.
Steven Zheng, a researcher at crypto publication The Block, focused his Harry Potter metaphor on the goal of bitcoin: giving users freedom to do as they please.
“Remember when Dobby was freed by a sock? Bitcoin is that sock,” he tweeted.
Dobby was a house elf in Harry Potter who desired nothing more than his freedom, but under the rules of Rowling’s world, house elves must be slaves to their owners until they are presented with clothes.
A couple other tweeters tried to describe bitcoin’s monetary policy by comparing it to the few financial elements scattered in Harry Potter.
“Imagine if Gringotts ran on the Floo network,” said Zcash Foundation executive director Josh Cincinatti, referencing Gringotts, the sole bank in the wizarding world, and the Floo network, fireplaces that witches and wizards can use to transport instantly to other places.
“Imagine digital gold Galleons, of which no Philosopher’s Stone could make more. In fact, there is a limited supply, and the only way to earn new Galleons is to compete in the facilitation of transactions using Galleons already in circulation. All without goblin central banks,” Lolli CTO and co-founder Matt Senter tweeted.
In short, bitcoin’s supply is fixed, and probably can’t be changed by any entity, like central banks are able to do around the world in attempts to spur the economy in times of crisis.
But despite these attempts to sway Rowling, perhaps some of the analogies were a bit too convoluted. “Now I don’t understand bitcoin,” one bitcoiner responded.
And Rowling herself seemed unimpressed by the explanations sent to her.
“People are now explaining Bitcoin to me, and honestly, it’s blah blah blah collectibles (My Little Pony?) blah blah blah computers (got one of those) blah blah blah crypto (sounds creepy) blah blah blah understand the risk (I don’t, though),” she tweeted.
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