The Merkle

The 2018 Year of Cryptocurrency Challenge – Week 5

At the beginning of 2018, I wrote an article outlining a New Year’s resolution that I thought could help boost cryptocurrency adoption and awareness in 2018. Last week was the fourth installment of my year of cryptocurrency challenge. This week, between work, fun, friends, and family, I was able to have some pretty neat conversations about cryptocurrency.

TRY TO SPEAK TO AS MANY PEOPLE ABOUT CRYPTOCURRENCY AS YOU POSSIBLY CAN

This is one of the best parts of this challenge, in my opinion. While I was pretty vocal about cryptocurrency before taking on this challenge, doing so every day has been a pleasure. More people have heard about cryptocurrency (particularly Bitcoin) recently, but few really know what is going on. Here are a few highlights from my week.

  1. I find that Uber and Lyft drivers are often captive audiences, as I’ve had a few great interactions with them. A recent ride I had was rather interesting because my Lyft driver, who I’ll call Shannon (the old anthropologist in me still feels the need to anonymize names), was a middle-aged woman who was rather chatty. She asked what I did, and after I mentioned cryptocurrency and blockchain, Shannon immediately became interested, bombarding me with 101-level questions. This was an excellent opportunity for me to help her along, but also to encourage her to do more research on her own. I’m starting to consider buying many cheap business cards with the Bitcoin whitepaper URL on them.
  2. The recent meteoric rise (and retracement) of Bitcoin has left many of my friends concerned, but intrigued. I was out at a bar recently with a few technology-fluent, but non-crypto friends who were debating the pros and cons of using Bitcoin (or any crypto) as a currency. Indeed, it has some shortcomings, but I also pointed out the problems it was attempting to solve, which led to an interesting discussion on the place of institutions in today’s world.

LEARN SOMETHING NEW ABOUT CRYPTO

I really enjoy this part of the challenge, since it helps me expand my knowledge base. I wanted to keep my streak of learning about new consensus algorithms going. This week I focused on Proof of Activity, a PoS and PoW hybrid. Proof of Activity starts out with PoW mining a block, but blocks are “empty” with only a header (previous hash) and the miner’s reward address being solved for. Then, it switches to PoS, where the header determines which “validators” or “stakers” are chosen (the more coins held increases the chances) to sign off on the block and make it a full, validated block. Fees are split between miners and stakers. This hybrid approach has attached the combined criticism of the two models it fuses (both are potentially expensive and potentially insecure). Decred uses this model.

BE GENEROUS – GIVE AND USE YOUR COINS

This week I was unable to spend my crypto for any good or service. However, I did take the opportunity to tip some people over the internet with the sodogetip bot for comments that I enjoyed.