Changing Values in a Digital Culture

A Little Bit of Money

Thought Experiments on Cross-Border Payments - Of Couriers, Bankers, and Bitcoiners

Series 8: Changing Values in a Digital Culture

Young Urban Professional Intellectual Digital Natives, YUPIDs

I recently came across a post published by an investment firm that has shifted its focus from hedge funds to Bitcoin. The views of the venture capitalists were nothing short of inspiring. They argued that digital cash will do to payments what VoIP did to telephony - from Voice over IP to Money over IP. At last, there are some young, urban, professional, intellectual, digital natives – or YUPIDS – who are writing profoundly well about the impact of digital cash on money, business, technology, and society. I have to admit, “YUPIDS” – as I hereby baptize them – sounds rather odd for a nickname, but let us take it in stride.

The Values of the Community

The reasoning of these YUPIDS is so far detached from the usual hoard-driven approach on Bitcoin – how to get more of it – that it makes me think about their values. These opinion leaders of the crypto currency startup world think, feel, and act differently from the traditional and sometimes greed-driven high-finance aristocrats. The underlying values of the Bitcoin community, such as privacy and sharing, come to life between the lines.

The Philosophy of User Behavior

Fascinated by Bitcoin, YUPIDS turn boring math into groovy-sounding jargon, such as innovation in fintech. It dawned on me how a whole new generation of people out there doesn’t necessarily believe that money talks in a customary manner. It is the user or, more precisely, the crowd, who talks. The “digital native” mindset believes in user behavior. Otherwise put, Bitcoin users rule - there is no other authority.

Putting Trust Into the Crowd

The crowd does not follow policies of central governments, let alone a single human ruler as their common denominator. Instead, Bitcoin users are mutually distrustful parties connecting securely through a federated database. The blockchain, which is their robotic master of the universe, offers unified trust and is powered by crowd-executed code, acting as a Terminator-like digital force. 

A Digital Culture of Collaboration

In this conception of the world, the power of money is about electronic circuitry. Mathematical instructions for input and output operations take care of trustworthy connections. Processing power defines the reliability of relationships, forming a kind of swarm intelligence that is beneficial for all. This system is grounded in a firm belief in the power of the crowd, and the valuable participation of each member of cyberspace. This concept is in contrast to the forces of the unattainable financial world and governments.

The Value of Bitcoin

The vast majority of Bitcoin users are eager to discuss the value of Bitcoin, rather than philosophizing about the values of the community. Focusing solely on the economic aspects is a sportive exercise, but the current rate of Bitcoin is a limited assessment of value when looking at the paradigm shift it is creating. The movement is a digital culture of collaborating and sharing – especially benefit-sharing, a claim for low-cost, and the basic notion of your funds having the right to travel freely and privately. That’s what YUPIDS’ values are mainly about. In other words, it’s an emphasis on individual freedom in a collaborative environment, and not primarily about having power over money or others.

To be continued. Further Reading:

  • Dani Townsend, "Talking ‘bout my generation: Millennials and FinTech", Company Blog October 12th, 2016.
  • M. Babaioff, S. Dobzinski, S. Oren, and A. Zohar. “On Bitcoin and Red Balloons.” In ACM Conference on Electronic Commerce, pages 56–73, 2012.
  • S. Meiklejohn et al. “A Fistful of Bitcoins: Characterizing Payments Among Men with No Names.” In Proceedings of the 2013 conference on Internet measurement, pages 127-140, 2013.
  • B Segendorf. “What is Bitcoin?” Sveriges Riksbank Economic Review, 2014.
  • J. Bohr and M. Bashir. “Who uses Bitcoin? An Exploration of the Bitcoin Community.” IEEE. Twelfth Annual International Conference on Privacy, Security and Trust (PST), July 23-24, 2014.

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