Lessons from Trevor Owens on Bitcoin Ordinals and Building Web3 Communities

An interview with Trevor Owens (Bitcoin Frontier Fund, Ninjalerts) on the future of Bitcoin Ordinals.

Lessons from Trevor Owens on Bitcoin Ordinals and Building Web3 Communities

Trevor Owens is a General Partner at Bitcoin Frontier Fund and CEO of Ninjalerts. 

Bitcoin Frontier Fund is an accelerator dedicated to projects focused on building new use cases for Bitcoin. Bitcoin Frontier Fund has over 50 Bitcoin startups in their portfolio, including names like Xverse, Gamma and ALEX.

Ninjalerts is an app that provides real-time push notifications,allowing users to track NFT traders and collections. 

On July 21, 2023, Trevor joined Chris Castig on Console Chats to discuss Bitcoin Ordinals, the future of Web3 social and Console. The following are highlights from their conversation. 

What are Bitcoin Ordinals?

Bitcoin Ordinals are non-fungible tokens (NFTS) on Bitcoin. With Ordinals, you are uploading files and arbitrary data into Bitcoin block space. 

Ordinals are fully on-chain. Unlike Ethereum NFTs, which don’t contain the full image, but links to images stored on a centralized server, Bitcoin Ordinals don’t use IPFS, no external storage, everything is fully on Bitcoin. [Casey] introduced a bunch of cool stuff like Partially Signed Bitcoin Transactions (PSBTs) and other innovative solutions that people had not even thought of before. 

Using Ordinals, we've been able to create all different types of assets. BRC-20s, which are fungible tokens or meme coins – or tokens for whatever you choose to do with them – novel NFT art, and 3D art. 

We've had groups like OnChainMonkey – an Ordinals project and former ETH project that did fully on-chain art on Ethereum using SVGs –  they inscribed p5.js, and also three.js on to Bitcoin that can now be referenced by any other Bitcoin inscription. [And it just took] one line of code. The idea of getting to a one line of code import of a full JavaScript library on Ethereum is pretty clunky. But on Bitcoin, it's very elegant. Iit introduces opportunities where there are similar ideas and use cases that can be built in new ways that might unlock more value. 

What is Ordinal theory?

Ordinal theory, which is what Casey Rodarmor created and launched a prototype for, is the ability to attach a serial number to every satoshi (the smallest denomination of bitcoin technically available). You can use a satoshi essentially as an NFT.

What can you do with Bitcoin Ordinals that is difficult or impossible to do with Ethereum NFTs?

Bitcoin is going to lag behind Ethereum in terms of application-level use cases. But there are many cases where Ordinals may work better.  

For example, at the Bitcoin Frontier Fund, we’re seeing people create audio and music Ordinals where they're using recursion, which is pulling data from one inscription into another. People are uploading  different music stems and they're combining them into songs and other inscriptions by referencing those different audio files. People talked about doing [things like that] on Ethereum for a long time, but it's more clunky to do it on Ethereum with full smart contracts versus when you have arbitrary data. 

That's what we're excited about: Infrastructure that enables developers to easily bring over to Bitcoin what we can learn from Ethereum.  

Developers are building on bitcoin to create uncensorable code?

Yes, you could potentially create a pure serverless front-end application that maybe interfaces with a smart contract. Think about what happened to Tornado Cash — the government wasn’t able to take down an Ethereum smart contract, but they were able to take down the Tornado Cash website. 

With Bitcoin, you can imagine putting up an entire front-end website — that could speak to these different Ethereum smart contracts. It’s an opportunity to connect [Bitcoin] to different blockchains, and to make it uncensorable. 

If you have a front-end website that's in the form of an inscription, it's going to be on potentially hundreds or thousands of different websites in order for people to access it. It's much harder to censor something in that form, which I think is an exciting direction for this.

Discord vs. Console

You've been a leading supporters of Console since the beginning. Crash Punks was the first community to leave Discord and move to Console. What do you love about Console?

The thing I love about Console is that everybody integrates natively with Web3. When you sign in, Console reads the NFTs you have in your wallet and you can choose an NFT profile picture. 

[Console is] designed more for a tight-knit community than Discord, which feels a little more public and you have to install all the different bots and stuff like that yourself. Console just makes it super simple. 

When I log into the Crash Punks' Console and I see that every single person has a Crash Punks PFP with their membership, it has a big impact in terms of that feeling of community.

What's possible in Web3, that's not possible in Web2?

One idea I had regarding the power of web3 wallets: I think there's the ability to really help swarm people together to be advocates of a community because you have their wallet addresses in a way that you could transfer value. Like, “Hey, [put that you’re a Console ambassador] on your Twitter, and we're gonna just check that at the end of every month to people who have had it there.” We'll pay you out some Lightning, send you an airdrop, or we'll give you access to a secret room, a game or something. Because you have that wallet address, it's like access plus value transfer. 

I'm trying to think of ways to reward people. In Web2, they're a number in the database, but with web3,we're able to transfer value. 

That's such a great way to frame it. The core of a DAO is voting and using funds to drive initiatives or projects within a community. There's also a soft side, like, how do you organize people? How do you reward them? There's a lot of manual work involved that I think could be made so much simpler. I don't think many people are doing it well. 

You can listen to the full session at: Console Chats: July 24, 2023