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Friday, December 6, 2013

Bitcoin is as unexpectedly & interestingly successful as Wikipedia - plus, money!

The evolution - or explosion - or maybe implosion - of Bitcoin is one of the most interesting stories out there right now, with it's mix of technical chops, possible wealth, and varied human motives (greed, freedom, curiosity, etc.) It's like Wikipedia was about a decade ago, when it turned from an implausible geeky idea into a juggernaut that did surprising and interesting things, both good and bad.

In fact, Bitcoin has entered the mainstream so much that the Associated Press discussed the term in the latest "style alert" to newsrooms, tackling that important question: Is the word capitalized? The answer, alas, is confusing: "As a concept, Bitcoin is capitalized. The currency unit, bitcoin, is lowercase." Got that?

The Economist had a typically excellent overview of Bitcoin's status here, including a great explanation of how "mining" works - read it here to understand. Then read this NY Times story from today about how con men are using Bitcoin's novelty, and uncertainty by regulators, to do nefarious things.

And for a different take, Wired has a piece about homeless folks in Florida who accept Bitcoin, and now are fretting because they spent them before they rose in value: Read it here.