Another fun experiment has popped up on Bitcoin: Bitmaps. Bitmap is a new standard that uses Ordinals to create a ledger of Bitcoin block ownership. The experimental standard is similar to how BRC-20 works. BRC-20s use Bitcoin as a data layer to track the creation and transfer of tokens by inscribing JSON text data to Bitcoin as an Ordinal. Bitmaps, meanwhile allow users to ‘claim’ ownership of a specific block by inscribing an ownership claim as an Ordinal. For example, a user claims a block by inscribing a block number followed by ‘.bitmap.’ As long as the person is the first to claim the block with a .bitmap, they now own it according to the Bitmap standard.
The Bitmap protocol reminds me a lot of BRC-20s – it’s a very basic standard that uses text and social consensus to create block ownership on Bitcoin. People must follow a standard set of inscription rules to make a legitimate bitmap, just like BRC-20’s. There are three basic rules:
- Format: #.bitmap, with no leading zeros.
- Blocks must exist at the time of inscription.
- First to claim.
If someone follows those three rules, their Bitmap inscription is valid, and the block is theirs.
Just like rare sats – a phenomenon created by Ordinals where certain sats are rarer than others and, as such, command a premium from collectors – we also now have unique pricing phenomena for Bitmaps. Early blocks command a steep premium. The owner of 172.bitmap is selling it for 5 BTC, for example. And other unique and exciting blocks, like the Pizza Block or Saylors first buy, could be highly prized. I am even seeing desiring blocks with interesting visualizations from Bitfeed.live.
A decentralized ledger of Bitcoin block ownership will emerge from this simple standard. Developers could theoretically create games or other metaverses that leverage this ledger as a map. Of course, any metaverses using this as a standard will have to have some sort of off-chain component – Bitcoin would just be the data layer for it.
Bitmap block ownership visualized by Ordinals Wallet. Yellow is owned, green for sale, and black unowned.
It would be easy to write off Bitmaps as ridiculous. But the popularity of BRC-20s and Ordinals has taught me not to disregard the current Bitcoin counter-culture of experimentation and innovation. There have already been 225K bitmap inscriptions – and Bitcoin only has around 800K blocks. I will keep hammering this drum, but Ordinals has created a vivid cultural shift in Bitcoin. People are shifting from hodling and never using the chain to experimenting and finding new ways to use Bitcoin. Ethereum has even borrowed the idea of inscriptions from Bitcoin with Ethscriptions! I couldn’t be more excited that Bitcoin is building out its digital ecosystem.