Here's a great blogpost titled "Bitcoiner Maximalism" written by Anthony Towns that attempts to paint the picture to illustrate bitcoins user funnel and identify priorities that may be advantageous to focus on. Mainly, maintaining the number of people at the top of the funnel and catering to their needs (a store of value) and build out the systems that will enable them to transact efficiently when they're ready to spend.
While the top of the funnel seems to be doing pretty well at the moment and should definitely be a priority, the bottom of the funnel (in Anthony's hypothetical) should cause worry. The number of people who self-custody (hold their bitcoin and use full nodes to validate incoming transactions) and consensus participants (people participating in the debate, development and review process around the software) as a percentage of overall bitcoin users can definitely be higher. If you want Bitcoin to be sufficiently decentralized you probably need to widen the bottom of the funnel.
With that being said, some may consider your Uncle Marty a hopeless romantic but he's pretty optimistic about the possibility of these percentages rising. As we move further into the Digital Age, the percentage of living humans who were born after AOL fizzled out will approach 100%. Hopefully, humanity is able to continue it's long arch of progress and collective learning. If you can assume that, I am confident people will be competent enough to perform the tasks of securing and validating their own bitcoin as well as participate in the conversation around protocol development.
Just because most of the people who live on this planet right now have lived a majority of their lives in a world where bitcoin did not exists and, therefore, had no mental model to approach it until after their brains were fully developed, doesn't mean that the youths can't develop good mental models, better practices and better understanding moving forward. Hopefully this helps pump the number of consensus participants. The tools to make self-custody easy simply aren't there yet in terms of usability for the masses, but they're certainly getting better over time! If it keeps getting easier to self-custody bitcoin and use a full node I imagine more people will do it.
Even so, education is key. Bitcoiners and the pre-coiners to come need to know how and WHY it is important to self-custody, use a full node and participate in consensus. Luckily, I think this is also happening. Last night, I attended the 100th Socratic Method BitDevs meetup here in NYC. This is a meet up that has been around since August, 2013 and has inspired countless carbon copies in cities around the world. Providing a forum for bitcoiners to meet up in person and discuss Bitcoin development, among other things. A truly inspiring trend.
On top of that, the amount of quality content available for people looking to learn about the how and WHY of bitcoin is bountiful. There's a much greater variety of orange pills out there for people.
And last, but certainly not least, I do not expect the trend of government incompetence, overreach and malfeasance to stop any time soon. The widening of the bottom of the funnel may be driven by necessity if the traditional financial system continues to erode individuals' financial freedom as dictated by the world's governments.
It may not look great now, but we're still so so early.
Writing was a massive struggle today.
Enjoy your weekend, freaks.