Last spring, people were getting all excited about Bitcoin because its value surged from a movie ticket to a fancy dinner for two in response primarily to Cypriots freaked out that their money was going to be seized by banks with the permission of their government. All of a sudden the fringe Bitcoin gold bug movement became mainstream and many journalists began writing about what Bitcoin was and why people were so excited about it. My editor challenged me to do this in a more visceral way. Rather than just writing about it, or how to get it, I would live on it for a week. The Forbes E-book On Bitcoin Secret Money: Living on Bitcoin in the Real World, by Forbes staff writer Kashmir Hill, can be bought in Bitcoin or legal tender.
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That was how I got to know Bitcoin. The experiment was a lark, and at its beginning, I was skeptical. On its face Bitcoin seemed ridiculous: digital money imparted to us God-like by an unknown and now absent creator, people turning their computers into money-minting machines simply by downloading a protocol, coins that exist only as ephemeral bits of code… I thought it seemed more like a plot from a sci-fi novel written by an econ wonk than something that could actually go mainstream.
While I was happy to ride it while it was hot, I assumed it would be cold, as in corpse-like, once the fad inevitably went the way of the lava lamp, Chatroulette and Tamagotchis. But the week surprised me. As stores and merchants actually accepted my Bitcoin as payment, the idea that it could have real world value didn’t seem as crazy. As I continued to report on Bitcoin for the rest of 2013, I met people who made compelling cases for a digital, global currency, the most compelling of which was that we should have a way to send value around the world that’s not bottle-necked by third-party payment providers. The Internet has radically changed the way we send information and communicate. Shouldn’t it also change how we transfer value?
I’ve continued reporting on Bitcoin since that week, sometimes to the dismay of my regular privacy news readers. And it’s been quite the year to follow Bitcoin. Much like children, Bitcoin, born in 2009, got really interesting and hit its stride as a 4-year-old. VCs piled in. China piled in. And the mainstream media definitely piled in. I decided to pull all of the reporting I’ve done in 2013 into a book aimed primarily at people still new to Bitcoin, using the week I spent living on it as the framework. We’ll also be bringing you some additional online elements, including visits with the people I met then, and updates on how they’re doing in their Bitcoin adventures.
The book is published by Forbes through Vook. My one requirement was that readers have the option to buy the book for Bitcoin. That wasn’t a payment feature available through Amazon, Apple, or Vook, but if the Sacramento Kings can do it, so can we. We have the book for sale in Bitcoin on our site. I hope you like the book should you decide to read it. And I apologize to my privacy readers in advance, but I’m not sick of Bitcoin yet, so there will be more stories on it to come here.