from the not-quite dept
Back in April, just as Bitcoin was starting to get some mainstream attention, I questioned its ability to succeed long term. Too much about it felt like a fad, and there seemed to be significant questions about it. However, over the next few months, as the price of Bitcoins rose quickly, and there was more and more interest in it, I wondered if perhaps my natural skepticism got the best of me. Of course, since then, the Bitcoin market has come way back down, and the concept has definitely lost a lot of its "shiny new thing" appeal.
Wired is running a detailed article on "The Rise and Fall of Bitcoin,"
which is a worthwhile read. Of course, it seems to be premised on the idea that Bitcoin is more or less dead -- a fad that came and went. Indeed, my initial post on Bitcoin questioned whether it would just be a fad. I still think it's likely... but I'm wondering if the big flare up over the past few months might be good for Bitcoin in the long run. Lots of speculators came and went, and Bitcoin gets to be ignored once more. Might that create a space to allow for a more sustainable ecosystem to be built, while the speculators and swindlers have moved on? Maybe. I'm still thinking that Bitcoin is most likely a fad that will die out. But sometimes a big flame out early on is a good way to obscure work that comes out of the ashes.
If I had to guess (and it's purely a guess), I'd say that the real legacy of Bitcoin may be in how it paved a path. The more interesting area to watch might not be what happens to Bitcoin specifically, but what the next attempt at such a currency brings around. There are lots of smart people looking at what happened to Bitcoin, and someone's going to come up with a better mousetrap.
My interests in both SolidCoin and then LiteCoin, and also just checking out the other coins leads me to somewhat believe that end paragraph. I once thought that the Bitcoin developers don't listen enough or whatever, but with such large numbers, you really can't please everyone, the ability to improve on the current client gets harder unless you have one all powerful ruling factor that can save the day like SolidCoin or if you have enough people helping another open source project like Litecoin. I won't even touch on Namecoin, as I am not personally a fan, but I would be lying if I said I didn't respect how long it has lasted for being the coin with a dual purpose and for the fact that it did try to add features and differentiate itself from Bitcoin enough where I could see people using Namecoin who have no interest in any of these other currencies.