Jimmy Song, well-known bitcoin core developer, has embarked on writing a book for technical publisher O’Reilly. Programming Bitcoin is different with respect to not only the subject matter but also the way it is being constructed. Using the successful model outlined by world renowned educator Andreas Antonopoulos, he will expose each chapter to the ecosystem, open source, and allow the community to contribute.
Song Uses Antonopoulos Model
Bitcoin core developer Jimmy Song will open source write his book, Programming Bitcoin, to be published by O’Reilly in the Fall of 2018. Mr. Song acknowledges and tells of his discussion with noted bitcoin evangelist Andreas Antonopoulos about the best way to put together a book of this kind. Mr. Antonopoulos’ Mastering Bitcoin was also put out in open source as it was being written, allowing for comments, corrections, additions by the ecosystem. It too was eventually published by O’Reilly. In fact, Mr. Antonopoulos wrote the publisher, explaining why Mr. Song was the appropriate choice for the project.
Jimmy Song is a staple on the cryptocurrency/bitcoin speaking circuit. His talks are well regarded, and whenever there is a dust-up or controversy, Mr. Song is thought of as a less polarizing voice. As a developer, he has seventeen commits.
Currently, Mr. Song is a Youtube program host, an advisor to decred, an altcoin project, and was formerly Armory’s VP of Engineering. He’s a prolific blogger, and teaches a two-day course, Programming Blockchain, of which his forthcoming book is largely based.
His goal is to condense the seminar in an effort to reach more people. He’s passionate about creating more developers, making the ecosystem stronger as a result, and more “anti-fragile.” He describes his deadline for delivering the book as “aggressive” (this May). His plan is to write a chapter, place it on Github, and then allow the community to contribute.
Learning to Build Civilization
Mr. Song tells of how “gracious” and “generous” a person Andreas Antonopoulos was in sharing insights. The open source idea was something appealing to the developer in Mr. Song, but Mr. Antonopoulos’ Mastering Bitcoin is a reference-type book, covering more topics. Mr. Song’s Programing Bitcoin is language specific, he explains, and he sees the two books as complementary.
Programming Bitcoin will start at “basics” such as finite fields and elliptic curves, working toward SPV and segwit transactions. Readers will learn to write a Python library from scratch, coded through exercises. He stresses his is more of a “learning book,” whereby it isn’t meant to be exhaustive. A key problem with technical books, especially on bitcoin, is the minute they’re published, the cliche goes, they’re already out of date.
To avoid completely falling into this trap, Mr. Song is aiming to craft a “process book” on bitcoin, how to think about bitcoin. As with Mr. Antonopoulos’ deal, Mr. Song negotiated with O’Reilly for a Creative Commons license. The “minute” it is published it will be available online for free. He doesn’t believe the book will generate much in the way of revenue, and for now plans to use whatever is earned from sales to pay those who contributed.
If it sounds Gandhi-esque, Mr. Song is quick to point out that if his book makes bitcoin better and stronger, so will his personal financial investment as well. Response is strong, especially for a technical book. The Github is active, and contributors are helping it along. Mr. Song believes bitcoin is bringing sound money to the world, and is helping to improve and build civilization. He hopes his book will live up the encouragement he’s been shown by the bitcoin community.