I've been tracking Bitcoin since its inception, and my confidence has grown to the point where I'm now trading in a portion of my gold holdings for bitcoin, buying it and accepting bitcoin for the Abundance 360 CEO Summit.
What exactly is bitcoin?
For starters, bitcoin is a digital currency. As of right now, one bitcoin is equivalent to about $600 USD. Bitcoin is divisible down to 8 decimal places, or 0.00000001 BTC. You can buy things with bitcoin, sell things for bitcoin, and exchange bitcoin for other currencies (and vice versa). You can also "mine" it, but we'll get into that later.
At its core, bitcoin is a smart currency, designed by very forward-thinking engineers. It eliminates the need for banks, gets rid of credit card fees, currency exchange fees, money transfer fees, and reduces the need for lawyers in transitions... all good things.
Most importantly, it is an "exponential currency" that will change the way we think about money. Much the same way email changed the way we thought of mail. (Can you remember life before email?)
If you've followed my work, or participated in my Abundance 360 Summit, you understand that I teach and track exponential technologies using my "6 D's" approach, looking for "user interface moments."
Bitcoin is following the 6Ds and is on a path to go from deceptive to disruptive over the next 1 - 3 years. Allow me to explain.
Why Bitcoin is following the 6 D's
1. DIGITIZED: Bitcoin is digitized money -- it is a global, purely digital currency. Every bitcoin is traded, earned, sold, exchanged and bought in cyberspace. For this reason, it is living on Moore's law and hopping on the exponential curve.
2. DECEPTIVE: Bitcoin software was released to the public in 2009 and for the first few years has been growing in its deceptive phase. Few heard about it, few used it and accepted it. In addition, the currency has been hard to use; therefore, it hasn't had its "User Interface Moment" (the key transition from deceptive to disruptive). More soon.
3. DISRUPTIVE: As described below by my friend Barry Silbert (founder of Second Market), Bitcoin is about to enter its disruptive phase where its rate of acceptance and use will explode, as will its value. See below.
4. DEMATERIALIZING: Bitcoin is eliminating or dematerializing the use of physical money (bills and coins), even credit cards. But more than that, it is also dematerializing (read: eliminating) the need for central banks, lawyers and currency exchanges.
5. DEMONETIZING: Bitcoin eliminates middlemen (banks, lawyers, exchanges) and demonetizes the cost of transactions. No fees. It makes it cheaper to use, spread and share money.
6. DEMOCRATIZING: Bitcoin makes access to capital available to everyone, where there are no banks, no ATMs and no credit card suppliers. Ultimately, as we move (over the next 6 years) to a world of 7 billion digitally connected humans, Bitcoin makes currency available to anyone with a connection to the internet.
Bitcoin's Evolution - Why it will be Disruptive Soon
My friend Barry Silbert (founder of Second Market) recently spoke as my guest at Singularity University's Exponential Finance conference about Bitcoin. He provided an excellent overview of its near-term trajectory, summarized below. His input has also put me on the lookout for the "User Interface Moment" - that moment in time when an entrepreneur designs a piece of interface software (think Marc Andreessen and Mosaic) that makes it so easy to use bitcoin.
I'll be reporting on those user interfaces, investing in those startups and helping to promote them.
Okay, now back to Barry Silbert's insights. Barry outlined five phases for this digital currency that help explain where it's been and where it's going.
Phase 1: The period 2009 to 2011 was the early 'experimentation phase' for bitcoin (i.e. deceptive). Here the software is released to public and most technologists and hackers started playing with the code. During this phase, there was no apparent value to currency yet; mining bitcoin was easy and could be done by a single person on a MacBook or PC.
Phase 2: 2011 marked the beginning of the 'early adopter' phase (still deceptive). There was a lot of early hype and press around Silk Road (where you could buy drugs). The value went from less than $1 to over $30, then crashed. This spurs the first generation of bitcoin companies to build basic infrastructure: wallets, merchant processors, mining operations, exchanges, etc. - i.e. the early user interfaces.
Phase 3: 2012 thru mid-2014 marked the beginning of the 'Venture Capital Phase.' Folks like Marc Andreessen, Google Ventures, Benchmark and others have begun investing in Generation 2 Bitcoin companies. We are right in the middle of Phase 3 right now. Thousands of bitcoin companies are getting funding. Many of these are trying to create the "User-Interface Moment."
Phase 4: Fall 2014 thru 2015 will like see the start of the Wall Street Phase. Here we will begin to see institutional money acknowledging digital currencies as an asset class, and they will begin trading it, investing it and creating products around it. This marks the start of the disruptive phase.
Phase 5: Finally will come the 'Mass Global Consumer Adoption' phase -- this is where bitcoin becomes a major player in the global economy. When consumers feel it is easy, safe and secure to use bitcoin. It won't be possible until after the "User Interface Moment" materializes, but I believe, as does Barry, that this is only 1-2 years out.
So now what?
Learn, do, teach... Go experiment! Create a bitcoin wallet and buy some bitcoin. There is no better way to learn than by doing.
First, there are a few bitcoin exchanges where you can "buy" bitcoins with dollars (or other currencies). The most popular exchanges are:
For those of you in my Abundance 360 Community, we will be discussing bitcoin in more detail. We will talk about how they work, how you start investing, how you mine, how you get involved, how to create a wallet, and how to begin acquiring bitcoin.
If you aren't a member yet, join us here: http://www.a360.com
Best of luck,
P.S. Every weekend I send out a "Tech Blog" like this one. If you want to sign up, go to www.AbundanceHub.com and sign up for this and my Abundance blogs.
P.P.S. Please forward this to your best clients, colleagues and friends -- especially if they don't trust bitcoin yet.
So, an explanation of what you're seeing, the interesting features of the graph, and what you could determine with minimal extra probing:
(1) From no more than the addresses in the top-central graph, you can determine that I attended law school, where I went to law school, and who my favorite professors were: the two largest circles there are the professors with whom I exchanged the most email.
(2) From the bottom-central graph, you can make strong inferences about my politics. The polar graph of brown and orange dots is a map of a community mailing list I was on from 2005 until 2011. Political preferences are represented by color. Interestingly, email addresses associated with trolls are (unsurprisingly) more heavily connected with their opposing political view than their actual affinity.
(3) On the left, you can see a group of college friends and people I know online. Why are they connected? They've infrequently gotten involved in email chains about tabletop gaming, so are associated through the same list.
(4) On the right, my family. You can see that I've exchanged emails with my wife more frequently than I have with my brother, sister, and parents; you can probably infer her outsized importance by the size of her circle. There in the same place, you can find out -- if you didn't already -- that is probably related to me somehow. He's not connected to my family, and doesn't have the same name as (whom we already know to be my wife), so he's probably a brother-in-law?
And in fact this is correct.
(5) Down in the bottom left quadrant, you can see my job at ATVP, where I apparently occasionally used my personal email account. My direct supervisor is the largest circle, and her supervisor is the second largest circle. You can also see the board of directors from my job before that, which is unsurprising, as ATVP and Sojourners' often served in the same community organizations.
You can also find some oddities in the graph without clear inferences, but which would allow you to infer things with minimal extra metadata.
(1) There's a chain of links leading from my sister, Kristin, to a guy named Steven to . This seems odd, if you know anything about the nodes. Why is that the case?
By pulling just a single email in the chain or an old directory of Google employees and my high school yearbook, you could find out that Steven was in the same high school class as my sister and that Yonatan was once his boss. Follow the chain another link out, to Steven and Yonatan, and you can probably make a strong inference that both worked in social: Yonatan is the Chief Architect of Social at Google, and Steven is now an employee of Facebook.
If you were interested in the unlikely provenance of that connection, you could pull the content of that email chain, and you would in fact find something interesting.
(2) Looking far to the left, you'll find a very large singleton node named Jessica. She appears to have no connections to anyone else, and yet there are a large number of exchanges between us. Pull that content, and you will likewise find out something interesting about my areas of interest.
But there are some things you won't find, or which you'll mistake:
(1) There are no emails from two different jobs I've held. That's because I never used my personal email account for work business due to confidentiality concerns. However, other than those two jobs, you can find almost my entire employment and educational history using just my metadata.
(2) See Audrey, up in the corner? I see her almost every week, and regularly communicate with her via chat, but I've seldom sent her an actual email. She's actually densely plugged into another network of friends which you won't find here, because I communicate with them mostly via social media and phone.
(3) My college friends, over to the left, are large bubbles not because I communicate with them far more than anyone else, but because two have no social media accounts, and so email -- by default -- becomes the easiest way to contact them.
In any case, this is email. This isn't social media, or another technique designed to extract maximum usable data from basic transactions. And yet you can extract most of my resume, my friends, my political preferences, my hobbies, and you can find additional areas to go spelunking for more information, all without accessing any content.
I think I finally grasped enough of the "colored coins / Open Transactions / bitmessage" concept to understand some of its potential.
Basically, a company can purchase a single bitcoin, break it into 99,999,999 shares - mark them via "coloring", thereby making them now represent company shares.
The only real barrier to entry would be the price of a single bitcoin.
(However, this would mean that the company would have to have a value higher than a bitcoin)
This could also mean that the bitcoin blockchain becomes the top tier global stock exchange / ledger.
I can imagine this significantly driving the value of bitcoins to incredible levels.
I can also imagine the use of lower-tier alt-coins as lower level stock exchanges - say Litecoin more as NASDAQ or AMEX - as the value of your company increases, a company may find more incentive to be listed and recorded upon the top tier exchange...bitcoin.
Maybe somebody can find some errors or misrepresentations in my understanding and point it out below?
I'd like to build a more complete and clear understanding of how this might work.
Crabtree Camp to Upper Buck Lake
The stats from Upper Buck Lake to Crabtree Camp are probably more accurate due to GPS problems and editing.
Crabtree Camp to Upper Buck Lake: http://trimbleoutdoors.com/ViewTrip/2377982
Upper Buck Lake to Crabtree Camp: http://trimbleoutdoors.com/ViewTrip/2377869
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Changes regarding health benefits seem a given, but changes that may lead to measured intelligence changes make me hopeful, fearful and unsure.
Who should decide? When? To what degree?
I'm not ready to deal with the weight of this question and it is not in need of an immediate answer, but I guess it is time to start considering it.
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