I recently dipped my toe in to the deep end of the cryptocurrency pool. What I expected to find and what I actually found are two vastly different things. I was expecting the community to be full of hackers, criminals, and shady black market traders. What I found was a bunch of people like me, who are interested in new technology and how it can shape our future. Don’t get me wrong, like any everyday society, there are elements to the community that still touch on what I expected, but they are the minority, and they exist in the darker corners.
The majority is made up of people who are concerned about seeing the global financial crisis of 2009 return because centralized banks can’t be trusted to do what is in the best interests of the general public, investors wanting to take advantage of the new Wild West Gold Rush, and geeks who want to create a new future where everyone is in control of their own finances.
Personally, I manage to identify with all three of these. I would love to turn a few hundred dollars in to thousands, avoid the economic turmoil that is brewing, and control my own financial future. I’ve been reading up about the technologies backing each of the different blockchains and what I have learned is amazing.
Each major currency runs on a different kind of network, with different rules, different limitations. This means that bitcoin differs from ether in much in the same way the Australian dollar differs from the British Pound, although that is a gross over-simplification. These networks have different economies that back them – some currencies like bitcoin, ether, and litecoin are backed by the Proof-of-Work miners, while others like Rise, Waves and Lisk rely on a Delegated-Proof-of-Stake system. Some currencies have only the central blockchain, while others have added sidechains. Some allow smart contracts, while others are designed to only handle token creation. There are even currencies like Sia, MaidSafe, and Storj that are based on data storage, where hosts get paid in the currency for storing files on their machine.
All in all the world of cryptocurrency is as varied as the more mundane world we spend our paper or plastic money in. And while there is the chance you can invest a little bit of money and come away rich, there is also the chance you could come away a changed person, with an interest in more than just making a quick buck.