Maybe Bitcoin’s devotees are right, and it’s the currency of the future. Or perhaps it’s a ridiculous joke—a speculative, hilarious enterprise taken to its most insane conclusion. Given that the founder is nowhere to be found, it feels like a hoax, a parody of the global economy. That the technology used to implement it has, so far, shown itself to be impeccable and completely functional, and that it’s actually being exchanged, just makes it a better joke. The truth is, it doesn’t much matter if it’s a joke or not. It works.
The Internet is a big fan of the worst-possible-thing. Many people thought Twitter was the worst possible way for people to communicate, little more than discourse abbreviated into tiny little chunks; Facebook was a horrible way to experience human relationships, commodifying them into a list of friends whom one pokes. The Arab Spring changed the story somewhat. (BuzzFeed is another example—let them eat cat pictures.) One recipe for Internet success seems to be this: Start at the bottom, at the most awful, ridiculous, essential idea, and own it. Promote it breathlessly, until you’re acquired or you take over the world. Bitcoin is playing out in a similar way. It asks its users to forget about central banking in the same way Steve Jobs asked iPhone (AAPL) users to forget about the mouse.
Sovereign currency — like US dollars — are an abstraction of people’s faith in the US to continue on. So perhaps an anonymous, crypto anarchist currency that’s tied to our belief set about the future of the web is no more fabulous. Maybe it’s time for a bet, a hedge, against the globalist financial system.