On Tuesday evening I gave an envelope full of hundred-dollar bills to a friendly long-haired young man I’d never met in an undistinguished coffee-shop in an undistinguished neighborhood. By the time I got home, the Bitcoins I’d bought were worth noticeably less than I paid.
[Update: By morning, the wild gyrations in Bitcoins price had swung me back and forth between profit and loss several times.]
Why I Did This · Two reasons; both seem good to me.
First, I’ve been working for a long time and have built up some savings. Like they say, “diversify your portfolio”.
Second, it’s a new (where by “new” I mean “four years old”) thing on the Internet. I feel both desire and duty to experience such things. My new job has enhanced my appreciation of the power of modern cryptography; I suspect that if I’d been doing this in 2009, I would have piled into Bitcoins earlier.
How I Did This · First, I poked around on the Internet and there are exchanges where you can sign up to buy/sell, but they seemed slow and bureaucratic and overloaded, plus they wanted full-color copies of identity documents.
Next, I griped on Twitter and a Vancouver Hack Space acquaintance advised me to ask that crowd.
Next, asking VHS yielded a link to the Vancouver Bitcoin site, which as I write this is off the air.
Next, Adam and I shot emails back and forth and agreed on Tuesday night at the Sweet Tooth Café. Adam has a day job, does Bitcoins on the side, is thinking of how he might make it a career.
We talked for a while, then I gave him some money and he sent me some Bitcoins. Yes, the transaction had a bit of Sprawl-trilogy flavor, but if you recognize the reference you’ll probably find that pleasing.
Advice On Doing This · First, find someone like Mr Soltys who will advise you on what software to use and so on. Second, don’t put in any money you can’t afford to lose.
For advice on the larger questions of whether the Bitcoin mechanism is sound, and what they might end up being worth, and whether they are an anarchist tool for Sticking It To The Man or a libertarian escape-route from the tyranny of pettifogging regulation or just a Shiny Geek Toy: Go elsewhere. I hope to report back with opinions on these topics, once they’re informed by experience and I can figure out how not to be perceived as offering investment advice.