Tagbitcoin

Imagining a Bitcoin Alternative Built on Reputation Instead of Numbers

My latest for Wired:

Instead of using pure mathematics to prevent things like the same person spending the same money twice, Document Coin will rely on personal reputation to keep all transactions in order. And each unit of currency created using Document Coin could have different values in different situations. If you use a coin in one place, it might be worth more then if you use it in another. The goal, Anderson says, is to get people to completely rethink the entire idea of money. […]

Unlike with bitcoin—which keeps its currency scarce by rewarding it only to those who participate in what amounts to a race to solve complex cryptographic puzzles—anyone will be able to create a new Document Coin anytime they want. The value of each coin will be completely subjective, depending on who creates the coin and why. “For example, the coin my disco singer friend created and gave me at my barbeque might be what gets me past the rope at the club,” Anderson says. A coin minted by tech pundit Tim O’Reilly might be highly prized in Silicon Valley circles, but of little interest to musicians. “It’s a bit like a combination of a social network with baseball trading.”

Ultimately, he hopes to get developers thinking about the social implications of crypto-currencies, and to get people to question the idea that everything needs to have a set, numeric value. “If bitcoin is the toy version of what we’ll all be using the future, then I want to build the crazy art project version of the future,” he says. Document Coin’s usefulness as a real currency is limited, but Anderson does hope people will eventually want to use it. “If you build something, you don’t want to be disappointed if it succeeds,” he says. “You need to build things that you would be happy to see take off.”

Full Story: Wired: A New Digital Currency Whose Value Is Based on Your Reputation

Previously: My interview with Anderson about CouchDB

Ethereum: A Platform for Building Bitcoin-style Applicatons

I wrote about Ethereum, next generation cryptocurrencies and distributed autonomous corporations for Wired:

Most people think of bitcoin as a form of money, if they think of bitcoin at all. But 19-year-old hacker Vitalik Buterin sees it as something more — much more. He sees it as a new way of building just about any internet application.

The bitcoin digital currency is driven by open source software that runs across thousands of machines around the globe. Borrowing code from this rather clever piece of software, independent hackers have already built applications such as the Twitter-style social network Twister , the encrypted e-mail alternative Bitmessage , and the unseizable domain name system Namecoin . But Buterin believes that many other applications can benefit from the genius of the bitcoin software, and that’s why he’s joining forces with several other hackers to create something called Ethereum .

He envisions Ethereum as an online service that lets you build practically anything in the image of bitcoin and run it across a worldwide network of machines. At its core, bitcoin is a way of reliably storing and moving digital objects or pieces of information. Today, it stores and moves money, but Buterin believes the same basic system could give rise to a new breed of social networks, data storage systems and securities markets — all operated without the help of a central authority.

Full Story: Wired: Teenage Hacker Transforms Web Into One Giant Bitcoin Network

Cyberpunk Builds Bitcoin Wallet That Even Apple Can’t Ban

kyle_drake-660x440

From my latest “Out in the Open” column for Wired:

Kyle Drake calls himself a professional cyberpunk. He spends his days on the net, writing computer code and trying to stick it to the man. His latest target: the global banking industry.

But he’s not aiming to take down the financial sector with some sort of illegal hack attack. He wants to beat them at their own game with a little help from the world’s most popular digital currency, Bitcoin — a burgeoning system that runs on thousands of servers across the globe without answering to any central authority. “I think Bitcoin is the most important thing I’m going to work on in my life,” Drake says.

His current project is Coinpunk, an open source Bitcoin wallet that he believes will help free the world from both big banks and powerful payment processors like MasterCard and Visa.

Full Story: Wired: Out in the Open: Cyberpunk Builds Bitcoin Wallet That Even Apple Can’t Ban

And in other Bitcoin news Bitcoins in Space: Hacker to Fire Digital Currency Into Orbit. The plan is to use a nanosat to run a Bitcoin server in space:

The notion may seen excessive, but for Garzik — a self-confessed space fan whose dad helped build missiles at the White Sands Missile Range — it has always been an obvious next step for the digital currency. “When Bitcoin came around, it seemed natural to me that you’d want some sort of redundancy out in space,” he says, explaining that this could not only help the peer-to-peer network fend off attack, but give it a lifeline if machines are unavailable on earth.

Garzik, like many Bitcoiners, is an idealist. “If you’re out in a field in Africa or if you’re a researcher in Antarctica, you should be able to have just as much access to Bitcoin as someone in the better-wired portion of the world,” he says.

Photo by Aaron Parecki / CC

Silk Road Round-Up

Black Market Reloaded screenshot

The biggest story of the week biggest tech story of the week (obviously the shutdown is the biggest general interest story of the week) is that the Feds (claim to have) busted Silk Road, the anonymous, Bitcoin driven marketplace for illegal drugs and other wares. Here are some of the most interesting follow-up stories I read this week:

FBI agent Christopher Tarbell busted both LulzSec’s Sabu and Silk Road.

But the guy they arrested claims he’s innocent

One of my favorite takes on Silk Road and its significance, particularly with regards to making the drug trade less violent.

But for better or worse, there are other competitors to Silk Road.

That’s because the Feds busted Silk Road, not Tor.

More about Ross Ulbricht, the man allegedly behind Silk Road.

Has a New Yorker Reporter Found Bitcoin Creator Satoshi Nakamoto?

Bitcoin Batman

Bitcoin has its own version of Batman and a New Yorker reporter has gone out hunting for the cryptocurrency’s Bruce Wayne.

It’s been three years since the inception and introduction of Bitcoin to the world and while it started out extremely fringe and invisible to the general public, lately the cryptographic currency has managed to make quite a splash. The system involves a complex mathematical theory that allows users to slowly coin their own money, essentially limiting the volume of currency and making it something of a commodity. Of course, now that Bitcoin has appeal generated from sites such as Slashdot the creator should be basking in the limelight of his or her invention—but here lies the mystery: Satoshi Nakamoto, the inventor of Bitcoin, happens to be a reclusive enigma.

SiliconAngle: Has a New Yorker Reporter Found Bitcoin Creator Satoshi Nakamoto?

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