Brewster on Bitcoin

bitcoin-logo-3dIn this four-minute video over at Forbes (forgive their ad, they know not what they do), Brewster Kahle talks about some of the experiments the Internet Archive has been doing around Bitcoin for the last couple of years. He has been paying employees in Bitcoin, and they even set up a credit union that accepts the crypto-currency.

We’ve been talking a bit about Bitcoin at DTLT over the past few months after Tim Owens and Martha Burtis decided to start play the market—it was pretty exciting to seem how quickly they got so deeply into this world. In fact, I even got $15 worth of Bitcoin as a Christmas gift from Tim, which means I’ll be a million one day 🙂 I’m still cnoceptually trying to wrap my head around Bitcoin, and the best way for me to do that is to teach a course about it, but this might be out of my league. Wouldn’t it make an interesting Freshman Seminar? In fact, when we were talking about the future of the internet topic in The Internet Course, one of the ideas students were most fascinated and garrulous around was this idea of internet-native currencies. Anyway, maybe we can pull a series of scholars from a few disciplines and have an experimental seminar on the topic—why not?

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4 Responses to Brewster on Bitcoin

  1. Jason K says:

    My concern w/ Bitcoin is that is based upon a fixed amount of coins. It, in theory, will have all the same problems that an economy would have w/ money pegged to gold. Money based on a finite amount of thing which is increased or decreased based upon what people value that thing as.

    Also, it is pegged at a finite of Bitcoin. So there will never be more coins, unless they change their mind and issue more coins. Which bodes well for those with real estate but those w/out are hosed if the actual economy would move this way.

    There are a few Left critiques of Bitcoin better then mine out there. I can try and track them down if you want. It all smells fishy to me. A Techno-Libertarian end around of nation states to make a form of money which is still ultimately a form of that money.

    • Reverend says:


      I would love some more leftist critiques, and I wonder if the think i should do (and a class might do) is start with the emergence of currency more generally and see how cryptocurrency fits in. Because, inf act, most of currency is virtual, and abstraction of sorts, so it’s not liek Bitcoin is new in this regard. It’s new in some of the ideas you are suggesting, such as finite number of coins, etc. I hadn;t heard there were a finite number of coins, but rather than coins were farmed and that took a certain amount of CPU, etc.

      I have a lot of homework to do.

  2. Interesting. What would a course on BitCoin consist of? There are so many facets to the topic. Clearly there is the technical design of the system, but then you get quickly into economic market effects and even the psychology of how we put value on a (no)thing.

    But, everybody needs money. That’s why they call it money.

    • Reverend says:

      Lile I mentioned above, I think it might start more broadly with the emergence of currency as a way to exchange value. How that abstraction made possible a whole new frame for Western civilization, and the emeregence of capitalism more broadly. I’d be interested in see if and how how cryptocurrencies are a logical extnesion of an already virtualized technology such as currency, or if they actually challenge, undermine, etc., our exitisng understanding of value.

      All that said, I should have studied economics becuase my ideas are bigger than my understanding.

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