Since the market lull and relative stability around the 14.00
, there have been a few topics posted regarding how to spread the word about bitcoin. I understand the client isn't exactly what you would want to hand your middle-aged mother and say 'go buy things'
, but we're still in the early stages.
But how early?
The closest comparison I can draw is the growth of web servers on the internet, or the web in general. According to the bitcoin maps posted here: https://en.bitcoin.it/wiki/Bitcoin_Map
Specifically, this one:
The estimated number of 'active' nodes is a little north of 37,500
. (See imperi's post below.)
Of course, this omits clients which are installed and only started when specific payments have to be made, but for our purposes it is close enough. (Even if we assume a number like 100,000 it won't make that much of a difference as you will see.)
If we take a graph of known websites (which of course assumes 1 site = 1 server, which would've been more accurate in the 90's versus now - but even then, interesting stuff)
we can see the growth curve here:
Based on where we are now, I'd have to say we are in the apparent 'flatline' of the growth curve. (Roughly in the 95 - 96 timeframe.)
This is purely focusing on number of nodes. I don't see this as a bad thing, you have to start somewhere, after all. But the future portends quite interesting numbers.
But, you say "The client looks like a gray piece of crap! Who wants to use it!!??"
well, take a look at one of the first web pages:
1993 looked pretty 'gray' and 'crappy' too. But it didn't stop the people who believed in the underlying premise. Which reminds me of where we are now. A core of entrepreneurs, techs, crypto-geeks and dreamers.
Hell, the first web server wasn't much to look at either:
The first bitcoin client running on someone's desktop probably wasn't much easier on the eyes. In short, we do have a long way to go, but I think the journey is worth taking. This summary statement on the web is a good start for 'taking the long view'
Like earlier attempts at building a "global information space", the Web was designed in response to the information management needs of large-scale, institutional science. Tim Berners-Lee was able to build upon previous technologies and incorporate ideas from previous systems to meet these needs. His emphasis on decentralization, use of existing infrastructure, and decision to make WWW technology freely available enabled it to spread and grow quickly. The 1993 decision to allow commercial uses of the Internet, and suitability of Web technology for e-commerce, resulted in explosive economically-fueled growth. In the process of its remarkable growth, however, some of the properties of the early web were de-emphasized (e.g. symmetry between reading and writing). (Taken from here: http://dret.net/lectures/web-spring10/history#%2830%29 )
I'd rewrite this for bitcoin as follows:
Like earlier attempts at building a "global currency", the bitcoin network was designed in response to decentralized transaction needs of large-scale systems. Satoshi was able to build upon previous technologies and incorporate ideas from previous systems to meet these needs. His emphasis on decentralization, encryption, proof-of-work, use of existing infrastructure, and decision to make bitcoin technology freely available enabled it to spread and grow quickly.
Keep your eyes on the horizon, we haven't even begun to climb the dizzying peaks of success.