Everyone in the next 10 - 20 years will have their own altcoin (or derivative of it). I’ll have a simoncoin.
In what sounds like an odd turn of events, recently launched dogecoin made me think deeply of how we ascribe value. Due to the ease of launching currencies (thanks to Bitcoin), it was inevitable that something like dogecoin would come along. However, looking at all the previous cryptocoins, all of them have been centered on some an idea: that is for the most part arbitrary. You have ‘feathercoin’, ‘worldcoin’, ‘litecoin’, ‘sexcoin’ etc. The strength of these coins as currency is its ability to kickstart and sustain a network effect (big or small). Having stronger concepts (and backing), allows it to sustain and continue to have value.
With Dogecoin however… there’s no lofty theme, or concept, other than doge: the meme. It’s currently very big on the net. Doge harnesses a strong existing network effect. Its usefulness as a currency is exactly that. It seems as if ‘money’ (or value) is a correlation to a network effect. Speaking to Bryce Weiner on twitter, he mentioned the idea of creating a cryptomarket based on celebrities.
And then the next step fell in place. What if Justin Bieber decides to back and launch his own altcoin? Buying and owning a part of Biebercoin is an investment in his network effect. There will be many teenagers wanting to pay and use Biebercoin as currency, and it will make sense for vendors to adopt and use it (in stores, in apps, etc). As investors, you’ll want to be a part of his success and thus own some of it. In other words, what if you saw Justin Bieber in his video ages ago, you could’ve bought some Biebercoin and took part in his success?
Jokingly, I told me friends about this, and they mentioned: imagine if there was there was a Mandelacoin right now?
And then it dawned on me…
Why not mint a cryptocurrency for each person? Mandelacoin and Biebercoin will be valuable by virtue of their achievements. But there are lesser (and other achievements) in life as well… and its value will be directly tied to the person’s ability to generate a network effect.
The beauty of this concept goes into another direction as well. We are continuously living in a world being eaten by software, where people are losing jobs left, right and center. Valuing the work being done, and getting paid for it is becoming a cock-up. If your net worth is simply tied to your network effect, you can become anything!
If you live a life of altruism, simply helping people in grand ways, you’ll generate a network effect and your net worth will grow as a result of it. You can be an artist. You can be a great mother in a community. You can contribute to open source software. All of the previously pure altruistic gestures will now generate wealth for an individual.
It also goes for the inverse. If you behave evil (what people perceive as evil), you will lose your net worth, as your money will be a direct vote on other people’s behaviour: a fluid ‘vote’ on people’s actions. In South Africa, our president Zuma, is squandering tax funds to build himself a massive home. The problem is: due to inefficiencies with how money and value flows, he’s locked up that net worth and power. Even if he behaves badly, ‘karma’ will take longer to decrease his power. It will have to lead to a breaking point, where the populace will get up and revolt. With this system, the populace can discreetly sell the Zumacoins they’ve accrued (when he was a more genuine leader), and let his wealth and power plummet.
So here’s an idea: create platforms, tools and suites to make it easy for people to launch their own coins. And then allow them easily exchange value between all the different coins. Make it float easily, so that I can pay with simoncoin at a store, even if they do not accept it explicitly. Or rather, fluidly spend the value of the coins I own of several people (ie spending Biebercoin for now, due it to having increased in value). Tipping and buying parts of other people could also be made extremely easy. Meet a kind stranger on the street one day, you can immediately then and there, discreetly buy some of their coins.
Value for now will probably be tied to its value in Bitcoin (as most altcoins are currently being valued) or the current reserve currency in the world: ie USD. However, into the future due the fluidity of the network of value, prices would probably be start being displayed specifically to you, perhaps as a percentage? ie, this beer will cost 0.0003% if your current net worth (whatever coins you hold).
Who’s in? Let’s do this!
For now, the going will be slow. We will start seeing (mostly tech) people slowly but surely minting their own coins (probably creating litecoin/scrypt forks), until a platform exists for anyone to easily create one, and allowing easier and quicker exchange between them.
Ideally, people would start minting their coins when they are born. At that stage, family would most likely be mining it for the first few years: allowing the child to eventually own their wealth when they come of age. If there is sign of genius, others could start buying some of the coin. But for now, we’ll have to go from here. Hopefully I get the most of my own coins. ;)
For established people, this process might be a bit more difficult. If Bieber releases his Biebercoin, he will have to contend with miners coming in and usurping his coin. But having a strong network effect could mean, he could either pre-mine some of it (to a reasonable degree), or simply through the wealth that he has buy it up as it comes into circulation.
There are some flaws to having millions of small coins: mainly security of the chains. Perhaps this idea will take some other form, in colored coins on the Bitcoin blockchain (best security) or through Open Transactions.
All I know is. It’s going to be a very interesting road ahead. And thus, I’m announcing Simoncoin. Launching in January 2014.
@gvrooyen, the director of the MIH Media Lab where I was at for the past 3 years, added a follow-up post: Cryptocurrencies as public shareholding, which is also worth a read.