Monday, January 01, 2018

Timothy B. Lee's "Gentle Primer" on Bitcoin

Timothy B. Lee has a booklet-length article on Ars Technica, “Want to Really Understand How Bitcoin Works? Here’s a Gentle Primer”.  Gentle indeed.  It takes time to follow this.  (This is the "right" Tim Lee;  he is "Binarybits" on Twitter.) 

This would have taken a long time to write.  Lee explains the Blockchain (which any advanced alien civilization will also have come up with), and the importance of public and private cryptography. These things don’t matter a lot until people want to do things under the covers.  It also depends on robust peer-to-peer computing (with all affiliated security risks from using it).

My own perception is that it is a good idea for any retired investor to have a small percentage of holdings in digital currencies, and learn how to use them.  Maybe 1% of liquid assets is a good target. I plan to look into this in 2018.  

Tim's own website "AboutMe" page has some interesting comments, especially March 25, 2012, and June 4, 2016, which I think was directed at me and my own books, not Tim (whom I met in Minneapolis, and who helped set up my 1999 lecture at the University of Minnesota; I also spoke at Hamline in 1998).

Update: Jan 3

There is increasing concern about the energy consumption (and fossil fuels, especially in China) for bitcoin mining.  Would solar plants solve this?

Update: Jan 23

While energy consumption of mining continues to be controversial, here is a New York Times piece by Nathaniel Popper, "A View from the Bitcoin Bubble", referring to the Winklevii. 

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