Bitcoin broke $10,000 and has become a popular news story once again. Half a decade ago, when I first discovered Bitcoin and was evangelizing, $10,000 was the number I used to make tangible the notion of the scale of this innovation.
My interest was never profit, it was the possibility of the innovations introduced by Bitcoin. In the modern world money and power is synonymous and it’s concentration in the hands of the few is one of the leading global social problems. This wasn’t just about decentralizing money, it was about proving that another way was not only possible but better.
Increasingly Bitcoin has become a vehicle for profit. Discussion boards that once talked about how the technology would empower citizens when their government abused their money creation powers are now filled with memes about how many dollars everyone is making. Arguments that this could help poor people in places like Venezuela and Zimbabwe have been replaced with ones that justify transaction fees those people won’t earn in a week.
It was inevitable that the interests of money would invade the space at some point and it appears that’s happened. It might have even been necessary. For all the faults these powerful interests bring, they do also push Bitcoin forward and while much has changed, much has remained. Those radical roots are still there. That potential to disrupt the world’s power structure is still there. And, there’s not just Bitcoin anymore. There has been a decentralization of Bitcoin inspired crypto-currencies. Most are power-grabs and not worth much, driven by that same greed and profit motive we see elsewhere, but some are legitimate attempts to improve upon ideas birthed by Bitcoin or find their own niches. Coins like Etheruem and Monero have real promise. I’m not sure which coin or coins will survive, but whichever ones do might have massive impact on our future world. And to be clear, this is not about how we will pay for our groceries in the future. Sure, that will change, and making money apolitical and decentralized will have significant effect but that’s just an easy use case. It’s applications, from changing how we communicate to changing how we record history are nearly endless.
The market cap of all cryptocurrencies passed $300 billion this month. Putting a dollar value on things that are difficult to grasp gives us something to hold onto and a way to measure change. I can no longer tell people Bitcoin will be worth $10,000 one day, instead now I say that cryptocurrencies will be worth Trillions. It’s an easy way to grasp how much more it will grow, but if all you see is a dollar value then you’re missing the point.