Saturday, June 26, 2010

Money, Fixed

I'm happiest when I'm working on One Big Thing. I think I've found my next Big Thing, and I'm excited!

Bitcoin is a new kind of money that fixes a bunch of bugs in the old-fashioned money you have in your bank account and your wallet.

Getting excited about a new kind of money is kind of crazy. You're probably thinking I've been brainwashed by the loony wing of Tea Party that believes that the Federal Reserve was illegally created and that we should go back to a solid currency backed by gold stored in Fort Knox. Or that I've drunk the Rainbow Sunshine Kool-Aid of the loony wanna-be Socialists who think that local currencies are the answer to everybody's economic problems.

I'm excited because Bitcoin isn't a pie-in-the-sky theoretical idea for how to make a better currency. It is a working system that a few geeks (like me!) are already using and trying to break. It fixes these bugs in our current monetary systems:
  • It doesn't require trust in any central authority; there is no central bank or company or board of directors controlling the currency.
  • It is immune from long-term inflation, because it is designed so that only a limited number of Bitcoins will ever be created.
  • It is a global currency and, like the Internet, national borders are pretty much irrelevant in the Bitcoin world.
  • Because it is based on the best currently-known cryptography, it cannot be counterfeited.
Of course, it is possible there's some terrible, fundamental flaw in the Bitcoin system that nobody has thought of yet. I've been thinking about it really hard (and dissecting the C++ source code) for the last month or so and I can't see any flaws, but I know that time and experience are the only true test of any new system.

I'm already putting my Bitcoins where my mouth is, and have created a simple little website to get some experience with handling Bitcoins. The Bitcoin Faucet will give you 5 Bitcoins to play with.

For free.

Maybe I am crazy. What percentage of crazy people think they're sane?


Andrew Bellak said...

I think you'd enjoy hearing Chris Martenson (now of Montague) speak.

I plan to attend his next, local talk on July 8th at the Academy of Music.

here's a post from Molly Hale of Transition Northampton:

From: Molly Hale
Subject: Chris Martenson talk July 8--please come!
Date: Saturday, June 26, 2010, 4:24 PM

Hi Everybody,

I highly recommend this talk to everyone because information Chris will provide is essential for our community's ability to withstand predicted economic, oil, and climate shocks. As many of you know, I have been involved recently with Transition Northampton, an effort to build community resilience in the face of the end of cheap fossil fuels, climate change challenges, and economic uncertainty. I am familiar with Chris's work through attending workshops he ran several years ago, and through his web site, If you aren't able to attend this event on July 8, I encourage you to check Chris's website and view either the condensed 45 minute version or the full version of "The Crash Course" in which he gives a really clear, understandable explanation of how our country's money system works, how it is connected to cheap fuels, and what that means for each of us.

I hope to see you there. And let me know if you would like more information about Transition Northampton. (There are incipient Transition movements in other local towns as well, including Williamsburg, Conway, Montague, Amherst, and others.)

Molly Hale

p.s. I attached a flyer for this event in case any of you can put them up in far-flung locations around the valley. Northampton, Florence and Amherst are pretty well covered.

*Chris Martenson LIVE in Northampton, MA*
*The Crash Course: Illuminating the Future*

*Academy of Music Theater*
*274 Main Street*
*Northampton, Massachusetts*
*Thursday, July 8th, 2010 at 7:00 pm (doors open at 6:15 pm)*
*Suggested donation $10*

/In association with Transition Northampton and Transition Montague. With a special appearance by Sophy Banks and Naresh Girangrande, lead trainers for the global Transition Network, and co-founders of Transition Town Totnes in the U.K. , /

In a talk recently presented to the United Nations and UK House of Commons, internationally renowned speaker Chris Martenson, Montague resident and author of the popular Crash Course video series will explore the intersection of the 3E’s – the economy, energy, and environment—and present a compelling, rigorously researched case for why the next 20 years will be completely unlike the last.

If you have been wondering how the BP oil disaster, European credit crisis, and recent stock-market volatility are all connected, this talk is for you.

This event is presented in association with Transition Northampton and Transition Montague and will feature appearances by Sophy Banks and Naresh Girangrande, lead trainers for the global Transition Network. Come to learn more about the budding Transition movement in the Valley and why relocalizing, reskilling, and reuniting with our community is more important than ever!

*For more information, visit *** * or contact **Megan Walsh* * ( ).*

Gavin Andresen said...

I watched his condensed Yahoo presentation.

I think he's wrong.

"Economic growth occurs whenever people take resources and rearrange
them in ways that make them more valuable."

And there's a really rational article specifically about energy at:

I wrote a somewhat-related blog post recently on progressive
doom-and-gloom predictions and why I think they're wrong:

I'm mostly worried about the huge demographic shift that is happening
with the Baby Boomers retiring (and populations in Europe and the US
getting older and demanding more from our health care and pension

Joe said...

I'm new to yet interested in bitcoin. Freebitcoins didn't work for me. I entered the right address (as far as I know) but did not get any transfer after about an hour. I tried again but my IP has been logged so cannot try again.

Just giving a heads up that either it was sent to another person (which makes me wonder: what happens with a typo when you give somebody your address, say, on paper?) or the program is not working properly. Or I am missing something.

Interesting blog posts, I look forward to reading more during some free time and also seeing where bitcoin goes.

Joe said...

Update: It worked. Transfer happened sometime since my last comment.

Gavin Andresen said...

Yeah, Bitcoin needs to get way more user-friendly; you didn't get your 5 free bitcoins right away because it was busy downloading the 66,000 "blocks in the block chain."

Not a good out-of-the-box user experience, but with the interest generated by Sunday's slashdotting, hopefully there will be rapid progress on easier-to-use Bitcoin implementations.

Joe said...

Thanks for the reply. I agree. Thankfully, I'm not the only one who sees potential here. Which, ironically, is why there's potential at all.

Personally, I'll be waiting to tinker with an API written for .NET, Python, Scala, or via the cmdline (maybe something similar to how Mercurial does it).

There's lots of opportunity for developers. And that translates to the emergence of better usability. (Err, well most of the time.) In the meantime, I suppose I'll hang around the forum and delve more into the other aspects of it.

noagendamarket said...

Hopefully we are well on our way to ease of use. As Steve Jobs would say-if you need to copy and paste you've already failed o_0