The Significance of Bitcoin
I first heard about Bitcoin in the media coverage that followed the now infamous hacking of MtGox in the summer of 2011. The commenter described Bitcoin as most people do, the world’s first peer-to-peer digital currency, and in the instant those words entered my brain, seemingly before I could consciously descramble their exact meaning, the butterflies were already in my stomach and the world as I had known it, had changed.
I am 36 years old now, and coming from a background in computer science in the early 90’s, I have keenly witnessed and participated in the rise of the internet, both as a commercial entity and as a fundamental public and private information infrastructure. Most importantly, I have watched as big corporate interests have been continually undermined by the movement of free software, both legitimately as with Linux or MySQL, and the illegitimate world of software piracy and file sharing services.
These opposing interests have even overlapped as we have witnessed many small software developers become industry leaders on the back of the piracy of their own software, a culture which enabled a generation of workers to become trained and proficient in these software platforms instead of being locked out of expensive and closed proprietary systems. I believe that Bitcoin can revolutionize finance in much the same way, democratizing the tools and access to core systems that anyone, be they a multi-billion-dollar corporation or a common citizen, can develop and utilize for their own purposes.
It has continually amazed me that corporations and governments have failed to recognize the futility of their attempts to regulate that which cannot be regulated, such as the many failures of the music industry to acknowledge the fundamental shift in their market, and their repeated failures to adapt appropriately. Add to that, the continuing failure of regulatory efforts to shut down these services, and the ongoing failure to recognize that these technologies are endlessly adaptable to whatever restrictions may be imposed upon them. The brilliancy of Bitcoin trading has solved a problem that I thought might have been impossible, the ability to remove trusted authorities from financial transactions.