Not So Breaking News

You mine for them, they are money for the age of technology by the age of technology; they are bitcoins. As if money wasn’t already weird enough. Pieces of inherently worthless paper that are given actual economic power through use; exchanged for goods and services, designating a “price” to every daily activity. Now rather than being printed this money is searched, or should I say worked, for.

Since the advent of the computer, data has been encrypted and decrypted. What started with simple binary—01100010 01101111 01101111 01100010 01110011 00001010—has moved on to more efficient data packaging systems such as use of hexadecimal. With better data encryption followed smaller data packages and better technology, faster processing, etc. as well as packets of information that can be “mined” to the end of acquiring a bitcoin. Suffice it to say that I am no expert on the subject, but on a very base level, one can decrypt data or to acquire “hashes” which can in turn be used for their monetary value, regarded as bitcoins, or exchanged for any global currency.

How much is a bitcoin worth? Can I have one for my birthday?

That’s what is so remarkable about Bitcoin; within the last three years, Bitcoin has experienced massive fluctuation in value! Since its inception, a single bitcoin was only worth a fraction of a cent; $0.008. But with a surge of popularity and an increase in the difficulty of decryption Bitcoin peaked at 1,242 USD per coin in Nov. 2013. To be a good economic medium, massive fluctuation—on the order of 15.5 million percent—is not a good thing. Thankfully, Bitcoin has leveled out at around 350 USD over the last year or so—still nearly 4.4 million percent higher than its original value.

Why should you care? Since the early 2000s bitcoins have been the number one, untraceable currency for illegal black market trading on the blogosphere—internet, web, infobahn, you get the point—and has only more recently found its way into the stock market arena as a viable monetary system.

Naturally, bitcoins haven’t always been used for hiring hitmen and drug trafficking. In fact, it is alleged that one man in the early 2000s spent 1 million bitcoins on a pizza, utilizing the currency in its infancy. In more recent years, people have shared their success stories regarding Bitcoin. One man discovered that what was $26.50 worth of bitcoins in 2009 came to be worth nearly $900,000 in early 2013. This Not So Breaking News is still in the process of being broken; yet, media coverage and common public knowledge of the system is still very low. Certainly, a truly universally exchangeable currency that has only seen 3 years of true—legal—circulation is something worth talking about.

Hopefully you didn’t spend all your bitcoins in one place.