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The Poetry in Cryptocurrency

Illuminated, 2014Cyanotype Print with Digital Drawing. 17" x 11.2". Limited Edition of 12. © Jonah Calinawan

“You should invest in Bitcoin” my nephew who’s a techie said this past November. I’ve never heard of bitcoin before.

“How much is one coin?”

“It’s like 10,000 right now.”

“Well, I can’t buy one then, I don’t have 10,000 lying around.”

I forgot about this conversation until a week later, when a FIRE blogger I follow wrote Why I just Invested in Bitcoin and Ethereum.

I was curious. Why would he do that? Investing in cryptocurrency is like gambling. You don’t even know what the value of bitcoin is. Hype is what’s driving the price of bitcoin to insane levels. I wasn’t going to put any of my hard earned money into something like that. It’s crazy. I’m a booglehead. I invest in passive index ETFs and believe that they are the best pathways to financial independence (proven recently by Warren Buffett’s article).

I was intrigued so I started reading about cryptocurrency and bitcoin.

What I found captivated me.

Everyone is focused on the money making aspects of cryptocurrency when you hear of bitcoin millionaires and billionaires. That certainly is a draw. But what really got me excited were the myth-making undertones in the cryptocurrency space.

Who is Satoshi Nakamoto?

Nobody knows who the inventor of bitcoin really is. Is he a man, a woman, or a group of people? Nobody knows. This person has no face.

In one article, Satoshi is likened to Prometheus who stole fire from the gods and gave it to humanity. This parallel is incredibly apt when you start learning about cryptocurrency.

All existing currencies in the world are controlled and issued by governments. Bitcoin upends this by essentially separating the currency from these governments. Controversial idea? Absolutely. We don’t know the ramifications of this separation yet, but creating bitcoin -is- like stealing fire from the gods.

Genesis Block

The myth-making undertones don’t stop there. The first block that was created for bitcoin was called the genesis block. A “block” is essentially the first entry in the blockchain (the underlying technology in cryptocurrency). The easiest way to visualize the blockchain is to think of it as giant spreadsheet that keeps track of who owns bitcoins. Because of its decentralized nature, the blockchain cannot be hacked, forged, or altered.

And you know how long it took to create the next block after the genesis block? Six Days.

The Rest Came to Pass

After bitcoin, other cryptocurrencies followed. As of this writing, there are 1413 cryptocurrencies according to coinmarketcap. Each one vying to overtake bitcoin.

The names of the cryptocurrencies are inspirational and lend themselves to great imagery: Ether, Neo, Stellar, EOS, Tron, Ripple. The list goes on.

Maybe that’s why I’ve become obsessed about reading and investing in these cryptocurrencies. In a way, one is buying inspiration. I love the words and imageries coming out of this space. There is certainly poetry coming out of the cryptocurrency space.


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