Tag Archives: Such Cryptocurrencies

Cryptocurrency Narratives: Playing With Word Clouds

Just for fun, I made some more tag clouds out of writings about different cryptocurrencies.  These writings capture aspects of the alternative cultural narratives supported by this generic technology.  Earlier I did this exercise for the “introduction” to Bitcoin and Dogecoin.

This week, I have the same word clouds generated by tagzedo.  (I’m not suggesting these are significant themselves, but I want to put somewhere so I can find them later.)

Here are some new clouds.

First, the Ur document for cryptocurrencies.

bitcoin-doc

#1.  This is the original Bitcoin paper, Satoshi Nakamoto, “Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System”. 2009. http://bitcoin.org/bitcoin.pdf

Very technical as might be expected. Interesting to see the words “Honest” and “trusted”–this is a key part of the technical story, of course.

On top of this dry technical base, many juicy cultural stories can be and already have been built.

Here are some clouds from stories built around cryptocurrencies.

Buffet

#2. Article from CNBC,, “Why Warren Buffett is wrong on bitcoin” by Vance Crowe. (Earlier post about this.)

Setting aside the template elements (such as “CNBC”), we can see that this story is clearly about Money.

verymuchwow

#3.  More or less complete text of Issue 1 of Very Much Wow, a Dogecoin fanzine. (Earlier post.)

This is a publication for the community of users and enthusiasts, so the emphasis is not technical.

maza-intro
#4. The “Introduction” from MazaTalk, the official community site for Mazacoin. (Earlier post.)

Like the VMW magazine, this is aimed at the community of users.

auroracoin #5. Main page (English language version) from Auroracoin, “a cryptocurrency for Iceland”.  (Earlier post about controversies around Auroracoin’s “aridrop”.)

Clearly about “Government” as much as Money (“Krona”), in a a very nationalistic context.  The article also prominently features large denomination bank notes, symbolizing the inflation overseen by the central bank.


OK, these are scarcely comparable documents, each has a different purpose and design.

Nevertheless, we can see interesting things.

The Bitcoin document is presented as a technical specification, so it has a very constrained rhetorical range.  Indeed, some of the most interesting aspects of Nakamoto (2009) is what it doesn’t talk about (the end-to-end technical picture, relationship to existing currencies, regulatory issues).

The CNBC piece is a bit of Wall Street style punditry, telling a story about how to be clever and make boatloads of money (without working very hard).  Nothing like flaming the sainted figure of Warren Buffet to get attention to yourself, and claim “cred” as a “bold thinker”.   This article also lauds “The rugged beauty of the bitcoin system”, a phrase that will live forever.

The Dogecoin publication talks about “community”, “people”, and even “love”(!).  Not apparent in the words, the magazine is heavily illustrated (lot’s of images of dogs).  I am not aware of any other cryptocurrency that has inspired such a fan-zine, let alone one with such high production values.  Wow!  Such narrative!

Mazacoin talks about “community”, too, but even more about “Nation”, as well as “resource” and even “children”(!).  Again, the web site has imagery, in this case, a (presumably) Lakota man, and (presumably) Lakota cultural symbols.  There may be an “airdrop” of some sort in the future (see below).

Finally, the Auroracoin page is about “Nation” and “Government”.  For example, the term “politicians” is found, along with “collapse” and “devaluation”. (It would be interesting to compare the Icelandic and English versions of the text.  I speculate that the English has a much more Anglo-American “Libertarian” tone than the Icelandic wording, simply because of the idioms of the languages.  But I have no Icelandic, so that is pure speculation.)

A central point on the page is the “Airdrop”, which is the cryptocurrency practice of distributing a new currency widely to boot up the system.  In this case, Auroracoin proposed to gift every citizen of Iceland with 31.8 AC.  This has not gone as well as it might.

Cool stuff.

Dogecoin Narrative: Very Much Wow

OK, yet another interesting cultural development on the cryptocurrency front. As before, Dogecoin has brought my attention to the cultural narratives built atop cryptocurrency technology.

Here is another milestone: the first issue (May 2014) of Very Much Wow | The Dogecoin Magazine.

Edited by Birdie Jaworski, the 46 page(!) fan mag for Dogecoin features interviews with Shibes, movie and music reviews, immature humor and silly poetry–and plenty of cheerleading for Dogecoin.  (The issue is free, though Dogecoin tips are requested–naturally.)

What a source for cultural analysis!!  I still don’t have text processing at my fingertips, but this goes into my “to be analyzed in detail” pile for sure.

This mag is chock full of epigrams that put forward the cultural themes set atop the Dogecoin technology.

“Community > Tech > Entertainment > News > Humor”

“For Shibes and the Doges that love them” (p.1)

“Dogecoin invites you into a world of education, experimentation, and adventure.” (p. 7)

“A community based on love * generosity * information” (p. 46)

There is even some slight evidence that cat people might be allowed to play the game, too.  (A welcome development.)

To do:  text analysis on this baby!

Such Narrative.

Cawley Documents Foundations of Dogecoin Narrative

So, in contrast to the anxious psychodrama evident in recent public rants by BitCoinistas (e.g, here and here), we have totally different narratives acted out by Shibes.

Daniel Cawrey at coindesc.com posted an interview the big Doge Jackson Palmer, mostly about the origin and culture of DogeCoin.

Here we have the core of the narrative laid out for us: Palmer remarks on how unfriendly the “crypto community” can be, “you get shouted at. And it’s not the right way to go about it.”

He also uses words like “negativity” and “angst”  in the bitcoin community (you think!?).

The point of DogeCoin is ”People were being friendly to one another.”

Like any good religion, DogeCoin has a memorable origin myth.  Where BitCoin’s origin is traced to a pompous pseudo-academic paper [PDF], DogeCoin is said to have originated in a joke in a tweet (“Investing in Dogecoin, pretty sure it’s the next big thing.”)–which inspired a few people to make the joke real.

Cawley claims that “Dogecoin has hit demographics that other coins haven’t been able to touch. That includes women, high schoolers and anyone who loves the idea of memes.”  I’m not sure what the evidence is for this claim, though obviously my attention has been captured by the meme-based technology.

Jackson argues that not just any meme would work. He believes that the Doge meme is “a pure meme”, and cites Adrian Chen’s assertion that “Doge has a sort of innocence that cannot be tarnished.”

Wow!  Such meme!

No wonder the BitCoinistas are foaming.  How dare they sully the “rugged beauty” of BitCoin with “an innocence that cannot be tarnished.”

 

 

 

Andreessen’s Class Act Lowers Level of BitCoin Narrative

Marc Andreesse shows his class yesterday, with wide ranging, unfiltered jawing at CoinSummit. The highly (financially) conflicted Andreessen appears to have some Oedipal issues aw well.

Desperately plugging his investment schemes (which, after all, depend on the punters actually using BitCoins and not some alternative, Dog-based, cryptocurrency), he treated us to an undergraduate computer science major’s economic analysis.

For Forbes, Kashmir Hill elicited more details. and it is apparent MA does not actually understand monetary theory, though eh is probably well aware of the fact that there are plenty of alternatives that work exactly the same as BitCoin except he doesn’t own them.  Overall, it’s just embarrassing.  Is there any way we can rescind or at least add an asterisk to his University of Illinois degree?

The anxiety is clearly mounting, as he took trouble to rudely and crudely diss Warren Buffet, resorting to, again, undergraduate levels of analysis, blasting America’s Favorite Rich Uncle as and “old white man” (as if MA is somehow not one of those people himself). This slam was a bad move, IMO.

Here at UIUC we know MA wasn’t studying much in school, so I’m pretty sure he doesn’t know what “Oedipal issues” means.

And speaking of Oedipal complexes–earlier at CoinSummit, DogeCoin co-founder Jackson Palmer showed his own undergraduate level of analysis, dissing the patriarchal BitCoin, declaring, “The biggest challenge that bitcoin faces is investors,” Hey, Marc, he’s talkin’ about you.

Correctly pointing out that cryptocurrencies have many potential benefits, and focusing on them as a betting game speculative investment is both distracting from and damaging to other uses. He has a point, though he isn’t really thinking end-to-end here: conversion to other currencies isn’t everything, but it is a necessary part of then overall system.

At least Palmer isn’t deeply conflicted financially, though there does seem to be some serious parental rivalry here.  Wow.  Such Neurosis.

Cryptocurrencies Grafted To Nationalist and Populist Narratives

Cryptocurrencies are quickly being adopted by many cultural narratives around the world.

The most famous Ur-coin, Bitcoin, clearly came out of the post-government, libertarian, off-shore pirate narrative that thrives on the Internet.  Bitcoin narratives often contract the “rugged beauty” of the Bitcoin gold standard to the bad old “fiat” currency, AKA, normal money.  These loaded terms are right out of libertarian politics, and signal that BC is about getting away from government and authority.

While the Bitcoinistas may think cryptocurrency technology defines their narrative, we know that is not true.  I have pointed out the development of multiple narratives built on the same technology, including Dogecoin, which is consciously the “not Bitcoin” cryptocurrency.

It is quite telling that a technology that started with an antigovernment, outlaw, narrative is now being picked up by numerous nationalist factions, grafting their own stories and goals onto the same technology.

One of the earliest cases, and also one of the most interesting, is Mazacoin, the currency of the Lakota Nation.  This case clearly shows the independence of the technology and the cultural narrative employing it: the Lakota nationalist theme is centuries old.

The mostly imaginary Serene Republic of Venice is imagining independence, and possibly a CryptoDucat. The maybe soon independent Scotland is considering a cryptocurrency (Scotcoin).

Existing nation states are also experiencing variations of this theme, especially where existing economic regimes have imposed punishing austerity narratives on the people.  We see SpainCoin, which offers financial liquidity to the parched people of Spain, and Auroracoin, which offers succor to impoverished Icelanders. (Warning note: having been crushed by hot money, Iceland has extremely strict capital controls, under which the government considers the use of cyptocurrencies mostly illegal.)

These cases are interesting, as they employ anti-central bank, populist rhetoric to support what are essentially alternative national currency schemes. Students of US history will recognize the similarity to the nineteenth century populist “free silver” movement. I wonder if an  economic historian wouldn’t see cryptocurrencies as playing the role of gold for gold bugs and silver for free silver enthusiasts.  This technology is very malleable, much more flexible than metal-based currencies.

In all these cases, we see the cryptocurrencies being deployed pretty much as “fiat” currencies, issued by and intended for use within a specific sovereignty.  Technically, there is no reason at all not to do this, the cryptocurrencies work just as well if minted by a national authority as by “some guys” on the Internet.  But boy-oh-boy, its a totally different narrative. These cryptocurrencies are not aimed at post-national, offshore, freebooting, but rather at nation building and freedom from international and offshore capitalists (who, for example, impose austerity narratives).

As the Shibes might say, “Such Narrative. Much Irony.”


While regulators have been lenient toward many of these experiments, there are limits to what the real world will tolerate.  Case in point, the amusing cryptocurrency dubbed Coinye West was not amusing to Kanye, whose battalion of lawyers effectively crushed it.  Of course, it is only a matter of time before major celebrities begin to issue their own cryptocurrencies.  (BieberCoins, anyone?)

Cryptocurrency Narratives, Healthy and Growing

Cryptocurrency narratives continue, many people are enjoying this participatory theater.  So many narratives created and performed, using the same technology!

On the Bitcoin front, I note that many are having fun playing the role of “savvy contrarian investor”, endlessly pumping a narrative about the historic inevitability of Bitcoin, which is the WWW of money.  This is occurring against a bleak background of collapse, probably fraud, lawsuits, hacking, and the arrival of the grownups, who are sure to ruin the innocent fun with regulation and taxation.

In keeping with the nearly religious quality of Bitcoin origin story, Newsweek published a bizarre “unmasking” of ‘Satoshi Nakamoto’, the creator of the protocol.  This weakly sourced story is heavily disputed, and denied by the individual in question.

The Dogecoin narrative sees its share of play acting.  Some are playing the story dogecoin is “just as good” as its older brother, Bitcoin.

We also see a (literal) Robin Hood play enacted:  someone using the moniker “Savethemhood” is giving away Dogecoins to feed and cloth the poor, including a $40M DC contribution to Doge4Water, funding water projects in Africa.  This performance could have used any of dozens of cryptocurrencies, but chose Dogecoin. Presumably, Savethemhood felt simpatico with the Dogecoin narrative. Such charity.  Much performance art.  Woof.

Other cryptocurrencies are enabling people to perform yet other narratives. Sexcoin builds the narrative of servicing “adult content” providers and consumers.  Ever innovative, this community values privacy and participatory theater, and has historically led the development of digital technology and commerce.

I’ve already mentioned MazaCoin, which lays a story of Lakota culture and sovereignty on top of a cryptocurrency. Heralded as a historic move, “the Oglala Lakota Nation has chosen to enforce their 1868 treaty rights by issuing their own currency“, can it be long before every nation, people, and tribe have their own currency?

No, it won’t be long.  SpainCoin has launched, to enable Spaniards “to get back his freedom and have 100% control over his money and assets, breaking free from the shackles of central banks.” (As far as I know, Spain’s troubles are due partly or largely to capital flight out of Spain, which cryptocurrencies could well accelerate.)

And so on.

Apparently, everyone and anyone can have their own currency, and live out their own stories.

This is a fascinating fluorescence, all emerging from pretty much the same technology.  I note that many of these currencies are basically reskinning other currencies.   For example, HoboNickels consciously reports its family tree,

It could be said that on the family tree of coins, Bitcoin would be HBN’s great grandfather, PeerCoin the grandfather, NovaCoin the father, and similar coins like BottleCaps and BitGem are siblings.”

It is more difficult to trace the memes and narrative themes, though I think there will be a similar family tree. We know that everyone views Bitcoin as the patriarch of the family, and most narratives both copy and compete with the father-figure.

More work is needed to document this unfolding creative impulse.