Monday, March 21, 2011


Bitcoin. Bit. Coin. Two little syllables. They seem completely natural together.

I think Bitcoin stands a good chance of becoming a big deal. A great big deal.

Lots of questions though.

Bitcoin is a new electronic currency. A currency out of the control of bankers or governments. It's an open source currency running on open source software loaded on standard computers of various OS flavors. It'll be immune from inflation because the total, ultimate amount of coin is embedded in the system.

I've said virtually nothing above, and already I'm saying more than I know. I only know that it smells significant to me.

It'll be interesting to watch this develop. Will governments and banks subvert it by various means. Will they be able to do so? Will it eventually take on the role of global reserve currency? How will it avoid total reliance on breakable infrastructure and dependence on public utilities and communications channels? What about money laundering?

What if I need to stop payment?

I'm thinking about setting up a node, just to learn more and support the effort, but what if I change out my hardware or software, or if my house burns to the ground? Or gets destroyed in an earthquake and tsunami. I don't think it's a simple as joining SETI. I've never allowed port forwarding at my house; what are the security implications of opening ports in my firewall to receive incoming Bitcoin traffic?

Do I have the capacity to understand Bitcoin? I recognized 25 or 30 years ago that asymmetrical, public key cryptography was probably going to become a great big thing, and yet I barely understood it. Now that it has become a great big thing, I still don't really understand it.

So what if I don't understand it? I don't understand much of anything, really.

I guess Bitcoin could be broken some time, just as the cryptography that's central to today's online economy could be broken by the use of chemical genetics in a massively parallel approach to cryptanalysis. Or something. Quantum computing. Who knows?

I'm pretty sure, though, that this will be an interesting thing to follow, and maybe join.

There are lots of really smart people in the world. Sometimes that alone is enough to give me hope.

Usually not, though.

Go Bitcoin!! Suppertime...