It's a quiet evening in my office at the respected media empire of "Fair and biased, inc". My editor and I are discussing ideas for a great story. "You know", says the respected journalist of 96 years, "I'm hearing a lot about Bitcoin these days, it's some new currency or whatnot. Why don't you see if you can interview the creator, Satoshi Nakamoto?"
Seems simple enough, but the editor leaves and I get to work, and after many seconds of research, I discover a problem. Nakamoto is a man who is very difficult to reach. Extensive seconds of searching using the latest technology (Bing) brings me to an online encyclopedia writen by the Internet's most reknowned experts. And their conclusion, their consensus, is that Satoshi Nakamoto is probably not the real name of the inventor of this groundbreaking currency. Nobody has knowingly met Mr Nakamoto in person. Attempts to search for people with this name have proven fruitless.
It becomes apparent that I am looking for an enigma. If Bitcoin's creator is not called Nakamoto, then any details we think we know of him may also be untrue. Some have speculated that he is, in fact, a group of people. Nakamoto may not even be Japanese. Conspiracy theorists posit that the name may refer to an unseen life force existing on a parallel dimension. And some even think, however far fetched, that the creator may be a woman.
Determining who the real Nakamoto is will take some thought. I pour over email after email supposedly written by the mathematical genius. I examine the language used, the non-pertinant views expressed, and I attempt to build a psychological profile of this man. Perhaps, by examining the clues, I can determine who this person is.
I stumble upon a collegue's work for the esteemed "Newsweek" magazine. She identifies a Californian who might be Nakamoto. She concludes that her subject may be Nakamoto based upon the fact he has some kind of connection to Japan, is a libertarian, or at least is distrustful of government, and is a nerd. This is groundbreaking work, and I am inspired to build upon it.
What we are looking for, I tell myself, is a nerd. A nerd who uses pseudonyms. And that itself tells me an enormous amount about our subject, about the real face behind Nakamoto. For someone to remain pseudonymous, successfully, they must be able to distance that pseudonym from themselves, and an expert in cryptography like Nakamoto would know this. Insofar as we would be able to tell who that person is, it would be through personality slips, not through hard information that Nakamoto would leak. Nakamoto might, for example, deliberately mislead a reader about the color of his skin, but he would have more difficulty disguising a fact that might pin-point his location, such as the colour of a common plant in the area of the world he lives.
To this end, we can assume that Nakamoto would lie about everything he uses to represent himself. He would claim he lives in a country he does not, he would claim a name that places him in a population centre he has no links to, he would even suggest that his political views center around issues he has no interest in. And likewise, in his other life, his real life, realising that he must distance himself from the invented personality online, he would take steps to disguise views he really does share with Nakamoto. The "real world" side of Nakamoto's creator would criticize Bitcoins publically and forcefully.
I reread the Newsweek piece looking for clues I've missed. Newsweek reports that Nakamoto frequently switches between British and American spellings, and as this is unlikely to be deliberate, I take this as evidence of the real Nakamoto, a clue that, to me, suggests a person who might once have lived in Britain but now lives in the US.
A nerd. Who once lived in Britain, but now lives in the US. Whose public persona must distance himself from Nakamoto, perhaps someone who rubbishes Bitcoin in public.
I drop my coffee cup. Coffee spills on the carpet below, brown goo staining the once pristine rug as a shoc(GET ON WITH IT, ED) I am surprised, and shocked, and baffled. I know who Nakamoto is.
Nakamoto must be, has to be, me, squiggleslash.
This makes no sense. I have no recollection of ever inventing such a thing. In fact, I think Bitcoin is stupid. But then I start to look through the evidence. I look for anything that might show an unintentional leak of information, and I look for hard facts that Nakamoto or squiggleslash have obviously intended people to believe about themselves, that must be taken as opposite to what they are trying to say.
Nakamoto clearly attempts to imply, though his name, that he is Japanese. This means Nakamoto is not Japanese, and squiggleslash is not Japanese.
squiggleslash clearly wants people to believe he is a critic of Bitcoin, through numerous posts. This means the real face behind the two obviously supports Bitcoin, and Nakamoto not only supports Bitcoin, but invented it.
Nakamoto says little about his politics, but occasionally drops hints he supports libertarian views of the world. This means that Nakamoto is probably the exact opposite, perhaps a socialist liberal commie. And that's exactly what many people claim squiggleslash is when he says things like "I think war is bad and it would be nice if we had universal healthcare."
And the unintentional leaks of information just pile up. An ex-Brit living in the US, and one who posts regularly about Bitcoin on Slashdot and Twitter suggesting an interest in the concept. And they're both nerds. The choice of a Japanese name suggests an interest in Japan, and squiggleslash has a Toshiba HD DVD player - an exotic media display device invented in Japan.
I am forced to look at myself in the mirror. There I see the face of a man every Bitcoin enthusiast has wanted to thank since the creation of their favored currency.
"Hello Satoshi" I say.
The face in the mirror looks back at me, and with a puzzled expression replies: "What? I'm squiggleslash you idiot."
In our story of March 14th, 2014 entitled "Could this be the mysterious Satoshi Nakamoto?", it was claimed that squiggleslash is Satoshi Nakamoto, the inventor of Bitcoin. In fact, squiggleslash is not Satoshi Nakamoto.