Rusty Russell's Coding Blog | Stealing From Smart People

Archive for June 2011

I like bitcoins.  A simple open source client, a well-run developer community, clever algorithms, decentralized assurance model, and of course near-zero transaction fees.  For all the economic arguments (some of which sound like early anti-Wikipedia arguments, though I hesitate to argue by analogy), when I first used it to tip a website, I fell in love.  It took me about 3 minutes to transfer $50 from my bank account to a stranger’s via my bank’s website, with 2 days latency.  It took me about 5 seconds to send 0.1BTC to a stranger, with about 10 minute latency.  It was a revelation.

But, while bitcoins rock, volatility doesn’t.  It’s currently a bit hard to get some bitcoins, and the price has rocketed by speculation.  It’s not just a cute FOSS project, it’s becoming a real market, and surely those piling in now are susceptible to hacking, scams and the inevitable hiccups that go with any project ramping up.  It’s all going to come crashing down to earth.

Good.  My hope is that after the GBC the speculators will move on.  Volatility will settle.  The boring work of accreting trust in this new tool will continue.  I fervently hope that it we will appreciate its true utility once the dust has settled and the Man Loses A Million Dollars and House in Virtual Currency headlines have faded.

[Yes, you can tip me in bitcoins!  I think it’s a good habit, fun to do, and better than ads as I get a warm fuzzy feeling of appreciation.  I’ll be using any tips I get to tip other sites which take BTC].

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