My Cryptocurrency Chronicles, Part 1

alt-cryptocurrencies

I got into cryptocurrency in late 2013. I’d read a few articles on the subject of blockchain technology and Bitcoin (BTC) and found the subject fascinating. In particular, the acknowledged shadowy founder of the technology, “Satoshi Nakamoto“, was found to be not real person but a pseudonym for an individual or group. It was kind of insane that a manufactured digital “asset” could carry so much value existed.

I found out that the tech guy I worked with, Greg, was an early adopter of Bitcoin. He had a few hundred secured by printing the private keys on paper. Having bought in at sub-$100 levels, he was pretty much set. At that time BTC was already extremely volatile, and had bounced between prices from $600 to $1,200 in a span of weeks. After a couple of weeks of talking about it, one day he went on Coinbase, bought $2,000 worth of BTC (it was trading at about $800 at the time, so that was roughly 2.5BTX) and sent it to me. To this day he still hasn’t sent me his bank (fiat) information so I’ve been unable to pay him. So I still owe him $2,000, and will gladly pay interest, whether in crypto or fiat.

The Mt. Gox incident happened in early 2014, tanking the value of BTC into the low hundreds. I changed jobs at the time, and lost touch with Greg, so forgot about the BTC and took my eye off of the cryptocurrency space. While I wish I’d stayed aware of it so maybe I might have noticed the surge before it happened, I’m already fortunate to have had 2.5BTC in my possession by pure luck, so I can’t be overly upset.

Still, it’s pretty dumb of me that I only realized that cryptocurrency had exploded in 2017, in December. Or maybe I was fortunate that I realized it at all. My current job has disconnected me from the technology crowd and space, and I only retain that connection with effort through other channels. So my 2.5 BTC was worth what it cost, or more frequently even less, all the way until the end of 2016. It reentered my consciousness just as the value fell from its ~$20,000 peak in mid-December 2017, because one of my ex-coworkers in the tech space posted about an ICO on Facebook.

coindesk-bpi-chart

So I frantically had to relocate my BTC key information. Over the waning days of 2017 I try to find the information. The paper key is pretty much lost after moving three times across two countries over the last three years. So I struggle to sift through email and chat histories until I find some account information, but no password. So I have to wrack my brain for that.

It still surprises me when I think of it, but I remembered the password to the place that the BTC was stored in based on the “forgot password” prompt of the site. The chances that I’d forget a password (particularly the way I make passwords – they’re all unique and I never reuse) after three years of not using it at all are pretty high. So, again, kind of lucky.

So New Year’s Eve is a couple of days away, and I just regained access to my 2.5BTC that was purchased for $2,000 in October 2013. It’s December 29, 2017, and that’s now worth just under $30,000 for a gain of 1,400%. It’s not life-changing money (and it’s not even money, yet) but it’s a windfall.

(To be continued.)

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The Binge Watch

GLOW

Much has been written about the change in media consumption, particularly the small screen. Twenty years ago, we were in the era of “appointment television” and “prime time” show slots and “lead-ins” were important to the success of a show. People had to have the opportunity to be at home and in front of a TV set in order for a show to have a chance to attract sufficient viewership to make it a success. Seasons were twenty-three or so episodes long, translating into an equivalent number of weeks. Each week, the show engaged its audience, who then had to wait another week to see the next installment. The art of the dramatic cliffhanger was at a premium to keep people coming back for more.

Fast forward to today. People can watch “TV shows” anywhere, via the magic of streaming. Appointment TV is gone, and entire seasons of shows drop on the same date. Seasons are different as well, with ten episodes (or less) becoming the norm for an annual dose of a show. Thus the “binge watch” is now a thing, with viewers devouring whole seasons of shows in a weekend or less. The streaming services have also unleashed the vaults of media companies, with the full history of television accessible to the world on demand. I can imagine people experiencing the entire runs of shows like The X-Files, or even the entire spectrum of franchises like Star Trek and CSI in short spans of time.

Game of Thrones is supposed to be the last stand of appointment TV, the final bastion of “monoculture” where the world watches an episode together and spends a week talking about what happened and what might happen. It’s the morning after watercooler conversation taken to its apex by social media. And then there are shows like GLOW, where ten 30-minute episodes are considered a “responsibility” by its creators since there is no guarantee they’ll get any more time to tell a longer story and they need to have a degree of closure after the entire season drops.

It’s an amazing time, where the ways of telling stories are evolving, and the medium of the small screen is unfettered by new channels. When the business models of the media companies reach a point where “when” is no longer as important as “how good”, and all that matters is that people can just find the art that appeals to them, new vistas are opened to storytellers and artists. It’s not that things have gotten easier, it’s that things have been democratized to an extent. Once this new model is supported by more flexible and robust financing avenues for small creators to be able to deliver their work via wide streaming, then a new age of this medium will truly begin.