I really like the idea of bitcoins. From what I've read, the bitcoin implementation seems solid.
I think the ecosystem can use a lot of work, though.
Currently I'm not satisfied with the means of finding bitcoin-supporting businesses. Also, I don't really see a good way for exchanges to talk to eachother. This is critical in estimating the exchange rates of bitcoins. Also, it is essential to get exchanges competing against eachother on spreads.
I propose that we come up with a few standards and protocols, and host those documents at bitcoin.org.
There are a couple of protocols that I think would help the ecosystem immeasurably:
- bitcoin robot metadata (to be located at HOST.com/bitcoin.xml). We should allow bitcoin-supporting merchants/service providers to place a bitcoin.xml file on the root of their webhost. This XML document would simply state that the host does support bitcoin transactions, and it should outline what products/services are offered. Additionally, I would propose that this XML document allows a merchant to direct a robot to visit other, fellow bitcoin merchants. This serves a dual purpose. First, it allows the spider to crawl to another known bt merchant directly, so that it does not have to crawl the entire web first, which would be possible but inefficient. Secondly, it allows the spider to roughly figure out a network of trust. If MerchantA.com/bitcoin.xml says that MerchantB.com is a fellow and (roughly) trusted merchant, then this allows the spider service to create an index that can be invaluable for consumers to find the products and services they desire. The end goal here is to allow any 3rd party to set up a bitcoin products search engine or other similar service. These will be invaluable in helping customers buy into bitcoin.
- bitcoin exchange protocol. In this case, I want to see a protocol that allows bitcoin currency exhanges to talk to eachother. It should be a realtime event protocol. This could possibly be built atop XMPP to save a lot of duplicated effort. Basically we want to get exchanges pushing out realtime trade information so that we can begin to get a general, realtime consensus on the value of a bitcoin relative to other currencies. The world does not currently run on the bitcoin currency, so this is really an important thing. If we want people to take bitcoins seriously, then we need to give them confidence that their wealth can translate back to local currencies quickly and efficiently, so that they can pay their taxes, utilities, etc.
I've got a zillion and a half more ideas, but these are the two that I see as being absolutely crucial right now. It will be really easy to get these things set up. All we need is a draft XML spec for the bitcoin robot metadata, and the same for the realtime exchange protocol. I'm willing to write the first draft documents if I get some indication that this community will take the idea seriously.
I can also create a bitcoin market search engine and add make it publicly available, but first I need to be able to crawl everyone's businesses.