All that Glitters is Not Gold

Coding is wild, y’all. Literally one simple mistake like not capitalizing a letter or hitting the wrong character can result in the loss of over $55 million in cryptocurrency. But, what is it even worth? From what I understand, some currencies are backed up with gold. My question is why is gold valuable other than it is rare and shiny? Are humans really so dense that the most valuable form of exchange we could come up with is a shiny metal? I think it is a psychological placeholder. It’s a practical system of IOU’s that can only work if a large amount of people partake. We derive value from the things that it represents, or the things we can exchange it for. In the Spanish film Don’t Tempt Me (2001), a burglar says, “Money’s just paper, but it affects people like poetry.” With this in mind, I realized that cryptocurrency might actually be worth something after all. It has become this sort of buzzword that everyone talks about even though not many people actually use it. It’s no wonder it caught over $10,000 on the stock market. The variability in its value makes me skeptical as to how dependent we can be on the new currency. Also, some people claim that cryptocurrency is “too big to fail” and rave about how secure it is, yet it only takes a single misplaced character in a coding sequence to result in a catastrophic heist. I don’t know of a ton of places that currently accept Bitcoin (except Subway!), but it still feels far off from the common American dollar. It’s going to take a long time and a lot of changes before Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies become widely accepted.

P.S. I can’t believe we are done with the freshman seminar! I am going to miss our philosophical discussions, passionate rambling about tech news, relatable tangents over Internet culture, and, of course, the awkward silences. Thank you Professor Waldo and Professor Smith for a wonderful first semester!

2 thoughts on “All that Glitters is Not Gold

  1. And thank you for a wonderful seminar…

    Money is, in a very real sense, just a consensual shared hallucination. It has worth because we all agree that it does. As long as cryptocurrencies are agreed to have a worth, they do. If that trust starts to evaporate, however…well, bad things can happen.

    It has been a pleasure getting to know you over the semester, and I hope to see you even though the weekly schedule doesn’t call for it. Drop by any time…

  2. I want to thank you too. It’s been wonderful getting to know you. I look forward to the day that I can interview you! Please do stay in touch.

    A lot of wisdom is hidden in our cultural objects and theatrical dialog. Thanks for the new reference.

    I’ve enjoyed reading this week’s posts and seeing how each of the students thought about this abstract thing called bitcoin and cryptocurrency. During the Internet boom of the late 1990s, I saw investors believe that a count of eyeballs had real value. Maybe cryptocurrency isn’t that far out, but as we’ve discussed, I hesitate to think that we understand it the same way we do with paper money systems and even credit.

    Happy holidays and good luck with your papers and exams!

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