So this is a two part post. First, I'm going to ramble on uselessly about the terminology we have, in particular the term “cryptocurrency”. The point is to introduce us to actual “kryptocurrency”, and in part two talk about some of the players involved in that scene to expose my ignorance there.
1) Watch your language
Science and technology have a lovely history of organically generating terminology that appear to be misnomers. For example referring to infinite precision quantities as “real numbers”. It appears that bitcoiners have jumped right in on this tradition.
Hmm, what shall we call a public, open, and unencrypted ledger? I know, let's use the Greek word for “hidden”!
This history goes back to about the 1970s when digital signature algorithms were first discovered. It's really an amazing technique. Their discovery came about as researchers were trying to make nifty ways to hide information, using asymmetric key pairs. It turns out, the same technique allows for unforgeable digital signatures to work. Because these digital signatures rose out of cryptographic research, they are sometimes called “cryptographic signatures” and because bitcoin relies on them, well you know the rest. Let there be Cryptos.
In fact, the real breakthrough and utility of the block chains as we know them may be their open and public nature. For this reason, we should call these coins demos, using the Greek for public.
Don't like democoins? Well then, how about we just call them bitcoin? Litecoin is bitcoin. Dogecoin is bitcoin. Heck even bytecoin is bitcoin. Both of them!
After all, can't I google something with bing? I know that shareholders, diehards, and copyright lawyers will try to argue but all I can really do is offer you a kleenex.
Of course when it comes to getting paid you had better make sure you have coke classic or BTC, at least if you are accepting stock certificates or block chain assets for your services.
Last week we talked about how Cryptos are really Demos. This week we will talk about kryptocryptos.
Or: “Yo dog I heard you liked cryptos so I encrypted yo cryptos so you can krypto while you crypto.”
So it turns out that not everybody wants their transactions, balances, and history of everything they spend public and easily accessible to any and all life forms. People want various degrees of pseudonymity, anonymity, and deniability. We're not just talking about encrypting our private keys here, we are talking about masking payments to avoid others seeing what we are doing. Keeping personal balances. Not reusing addresses. That kind of thing.
People who are interested in this kind of thing (lets call it kryptocurrency) basically fall into two camps:
- We can do our krypto on top of the open bitcoin networks
- We need more cryptography than the BTC network provides.
Of course as usual both camps are right. But we'll get to that.
The first choice has mostly been one of necessity. Mixing services have seen heavy use as people try to make it harder to trace coin motions. Now we have coinjoin being used regularly as a sort of mixer. In addition there are stealth addresses we can use to keep addresses hidden. And of course we can encrypt all our communication as we set up the deals.
For some people that isn't good enough. After all, cryptography offers a ton of amazing options that could give us all kinds of great anonymity that democurrency (that's bitcoin remember) just doesn't have out of the box. Enter Camp two members: zerocoin, darkcoin, bytecoin + friends.
Oh yeah, I said I was gonna come back to bytecoin? Well if you want to hear my opinion about cryptonote you'll have to ask me in person because this post is over.