Business Weeks Paul Ford looks at the growing popularity of Bitcoin, and notes that the phenomenon is not only bigger than anyone expected but that the emergence of a virtual global money supply beyond the reach and control of any government is very real and that its time we take it seriously.
Maybe Bitcoins devotees are right, and its the currency of the future. Or perhaps its a ridiculous jokea speculative, hilarious enterprise taken to its most insane conclusion. Given that the founder is nowhere to be found, it feels like a hoax, a parody of the global economy. That the technology used to implement it has, so far, shown itself to be impeccable and completely functional, and that its actually being exchanged, just makes it a better joke. The truth is, it doesnt much matter if its a joke or not. It works.
The Internet is a big fan of the worst-possible-thing. Many people thought Twitter was the worst possible way for people to communicate, little more than discourse abbreviated into tiny little chunks; Facebook was a horrible way to experience human relationships, commodifying them into a list of friends whom one pokes. The Arab Spring changed the story somewhat. (BuzzFeed is another examplelet them eat cat pictures.) One recipe for Internet success seems to be this: Start at the bottom, at the most awful, ridiculous, essential idea, and own it. Promote it breathlessly, until youre acquired or you take over the world. Bitcoin is playing out in a similar way. It asks its users to forget about central banking in the same way Steve Jobs asked iPhone (AAPL) users to forget about the mouse.
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