Why moths?

I like moths, especially those that engage in mimicry, e.g. “when one organism (the mimic) converges on phenotypic features of another (the model) because of the selective benefits of sharing such a resemblance.” I think mimics are a good mascot for illustrating Bitcoin privacy as I see it.

Bitcoin privacy can be about hiding or refraining from producing and sharing data about oneself, but it is also about creating ambiguity, increasing uncertainty, about the (history and future of) relationship(s) between addresses and coins. Some techniques, like Chaumian equal-input CoinJoin, have more resemblance to the zebra strategy: camouflauging into a large herd so that no individual animal can be picked out. But many, such as PayJoin, are about constructing transactions in such a way where you confuse the predator (ex. blockchain surveillance companies) about what you are. If the Bitcoin blockchain is like a history book, then the goal of Bitcoin privacy is to invite as many interpretations of the narratives it contains as possible, while still preserving the basic information necessary to do its job. The predator has the opposite goal; they want to decrease ambiguity so that they can construct “objective,” “forensic” interpretations about who owns which coins and what we do with them, and then they try to make life difficult with their “art.”

When I started my newsletter, I knew I needed images, but I didn’t want to go with the standard Bitcoin-related media kit, like golden ‘B’ coins, raining Matrix code, or ‘Men In Hoodies.’ Somehow I got the idea to input a photo of a moth with eyespots into a Google reverse image search, which returns similar-looking pictures. The results to my query were mostly human faces, and I found it hilarious that the moth’s defense strategy had worked against an image recognition AI (for now). That moth was featured in my first newsletter.

Moths also make an appearance in computer history:

As computers got better, they got cheaper, but one more thing had to happen before their use could extend to the everyday life of such nonspecialists as journalists. They had to be made easy to use. That is where Admiral Grace Murray Hopper earned her place in computer history. (One of her contributions was being the first person to debug a computer: When the Mark I broke down one day in 1945, she traced the problem to a dead moth caught in a relay switch.)

— “Precision Journalism: A Reporter’s Introduction to Social Science Methods” by Philip Meyer (Fourth Edition, 2002)