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Which clippings match 'Miner' keyword pg.1 of 1
22 MARCH 2013

The Rise and Fall of Bitcoin

"In November 1, 2008, a man named Satoshi Nakamoto posted a research paper to an obscure cryptography listserv describing his design for a new digital currency that he called bitcoin. None of the list's veterans had heard of him, and what little information could be gleaned was murky and contradictory. In an online profile, he said he lived in Japan. His email address was from a free German service. Google searches for his name turned up no relevant information; it was clearly a pseudonym. But while Nakamoto himself may have been a puzzle, his creation cracked a problem that had stumped cryptographers for decades. The idea of digital money – convenient and untraceable, liberated from the oversight of governments and banks – had been a hot topic since the birth of the Internet. Cypherpunks, the 1990s movement of libertarian cryptographers, dedicated themselves to the project. Yet every effort to create virtual cash had foundered. Ecash, an anonymous system launched in the early 1990s by cryptographer David Chaum, failed in part because it depended on the existing infrastructures of government and credit card companies. Other proposals followed – bit gold, RPOW, b–money – but none got off the ground.

One of the core challenges of designing a digital currency involves something called the double–spending problem. If a digital dollar is just information, free from the corporeal strictures of paper and metal, what's to prevent people from copying and pasting it as easily as a chunk of text, 'spending' it as many times as they want? The conventional answer involved using a central clearinghouse to keep a real–time ledger of all transactions – ensuring that, if someone spends his last digital dollar, he can't then spend it again. The ledger prevents fraud, but it also requires a trusted third party to administer it.

Bitcoin did away with the third party by publicly distributing the ledger, what Nakamoto called the 'block chain.' Users willing to devote CPU power to running a special piece of software would be called miners and would form a network to maintain the block chain collectively. In the process, they would also generate new currency. Transactions would be broadcast to the network, and computers running the software would compete to solve irreversible cryptographic puzzles that contain data from several transactions. The first miner to solve each puzzle would be awarded 50 new bitcoins, and the associated block of transactions would be added to the chain. The difficulty of each puzzle would increase as the number of miners increased, which would keep production to one block of transactions roughly every 10 minutes. In addition, the size of each block bounty would halve every 210,000 blocks – first from 50 bitcoins to 25, then from 25 to 12.5, and so on. Around the year 2140, the currency would reach its preordained limit of 21 million bitcoins."

(Benjamin Wallace, 23 November 2011, Wired Magazine)

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TAGS

1990s2008anonymous system • b-money • bit gold • bitcoin • block chain • broadcast to the network • chain • clearinghouse • collective interests • collective participation • collective participation technology • corporeal strictures • credit card • cryptographer • cryptographic puzzle • cryptography • currency • cypherpunkDavid Chaumdecentralisation • digital currency • digital dollar • digital money • distribution models • double-spending • financial flowsfinancial transactionsfraudfree market economyglobal capital flowsinformation flowsinformation theoryinfrastructureJapan • ledger • libertarianism • Listservminermining • mining metaphor • P2Ppuzzle • pyramid scheme • RPOW • Satoshi Nakamoto • speculationspeculation and innovation • spending • trustvalue and benefit • virtual cash • Wired (magazine)

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
11 OCTOBER 2009

The Miners' Strike: A Case Study in Regional Content

"This project is the result of the first collaboration between BBC Information and Archives and the Institute of Communications Studies at the University of Leeds. Both parties were keen to work together under the auspices of this new AHRC/BBC Knowledge Exchange Programme to undertake research into the potential of BBC archival holdings to generate new digital content, programming and to examine, via a case study of the 1984–5 miners' strike, the issues involved in making content available to the general public, academia and commercial programmers. Central to this study was a desire to explore the relationships between various stakeholders, between content providers (BBC archives) and a range of public and broadcast audiences. At a time when the BBC is developing new approaches to disseminating archival resources, and engaging with new audiences via a range of digital initiatives and archival supported programmes, the study is extremely timely. The core of the project was designed to look at how the BBC's regional public audiences might interact with 'sensitive' archival sources, in what sense they could access and utilise these materials as part of their own memories of historical events, what issues and problems might arise, and ultimately how these findings could be used to inform future archival activities, digital accession, academic practice and drive programming. Over the 12 months that the project was 'live' many exciting developments took place which both informed our research and began to determine the direction it took."

(Simon Popple & Heather Powell, UK)

TAGS

19841985AHRCarchiveBBC • BBC archives • BBC KEP • BBC Knowledge Exchange Programme • BBC Open Archive Project • case studyculturedigitisation • Heather Powell • miner • Open Archive • protest • regional content • research • Simon Popple • social change • strike • UKUniversity of Leeds

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
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