“I’m feeling very Olympic today.” – Cool Runnings (1993)
The Jamaican bobsled team has made it to the winter Olympics again this year and much like the story line of the 1993 film Cool Runnings, they needed help funding their journey to Sochi, Russia. However, instead of Junior’s car raising the majority of the money, it was the online community of Reddit, Doge, and the cryptocurrency Dogecoin that helped them raise over $30,000 USD, completing the teams fundraising target.
Ok, so Reddit is a social media platform used for social news and entertainment. Registered users post items/text onto an online pin-board and other users vote their content “up” or “down” depending on whether they liked it or not. Reddit also gave birth the Doge meme.
The Doge meme is a mash-up of the word “Doge” (slang for “dog” originating from Homestar Runner’s puppet show) and a peculiar picture of Suki, a Japanese kindegarten teacher’s adopted Shiba Inu dog Kabosu. The mash was created on Reddit, when the photo was posted with the title “LMBO LOOK @ THIS F***N DOGE”. From there, “your daily Doge” page was created on Reddit and the popularity of the meme continued to grow, accompanied with comic sans captions like “very currency”, “many coin”, “wow”. The meme is cute and lighthearted and has received much love from the Internet.
Dogecoin fits into Reddit as a way of “tipping” a post/comment on Reddit that you particularly like. This Dogecoin can then be used in a similar way, or for the purchase of goods and services.
Tipping, as in money?
Yes, Dogecoin is a virtual currency, or cryptocurrency that actually has a real world monetary value.
I still don’t get it…
A cryptocurrency is a virtual currency that uses public key cryptography so that it may have secure transactions between users. Each user has their own unique key, which they can use to unlock the public key and trade cryptocurrency. This currency can be used just like real money, to buy good and services, give tips, and make donations. However, unlike real life currencies, cryptocurrencies have a set number of monetary units that can be in circulation. These units or “blocks” of currency are then mined for by users.
Mining is done using a free computer program and open source code. Much like mining for gold, not all prospectors are fortunate enough to find gold. Computer speeds play a large part in ones ability to mine and be the first user to successfully mine a block. If you are not the first to mine a block, you miss out on the bounty. However, the cost of using/purchasing a faster computer must be traded off with the monetary benefit of the block/s you are mining. That said, a cryptocurrency user does not necessarily have to mine for their gold. As it is an online market, users can trade and invest their coins and still see a return.
Dogecoin is a type of cryptocurrency developed by Jackson Palmer and Shibetoshi Nakamoto (Billy Markus) after Palmer made a joke on Twitter about it being “the next big thing”. Dogecoin was created in the image of the Doge meme as it would provide some LOLs and help create a friendly environment.
Since its release in December 2013, Dogecoin has positioned itself as the Internet currency, with a main focus on tipping and microtransactions, rather than the pump and dump, get rich quick scheme of other currencies like Bitcoin, which is now being used to buy big ticket items like yachts. True to its initial goal, it has created a supportive community, raising over $30,000 from the Dogecoin community for the Jamaican Bobsled team through the Dogecoin Foundation. Apart from these fundraising efforts, the currency has been mostly used as stocking fillers and to tip/give kudos to Reddit users for particularly good posts/comments. For something that was created in jest, it has had a powerful and positive real world impact.
This was the briefest of overviews of cryptocurrency and Dogecoin. If you are keen to learn more, I suggest starting your interweb journey here:
NOTE: Cryptocurrency gets a lot harder to understand before it gets any easier.