About the Talk

The first posted exchange rate for Bitcoin in 2009 was around $0.001 (USD) = 1 BTC. Just over eight years later, in mid-December 2017, it reached an inconceivable high of over $19,000 (USD) = 1 BTC, only to lose near 40% of its value the following month. Along with this dramatic ride in its price came a new wave of attention from mainstream audiences who brought with them a lot of questions - the two biggest being ‘What is Bitcoin?’ and ‘Why is it worth anything?’

This talk will offer some answers to these questions. The first part will use a computational modeling approach to help clarify how it is that this “something out of nothing” quality can arise out of social valuation processes. The second part will then combine information from the documented history of Bitcoin’s development, venture capital funding trends, and text scraped from thousands of news articles to explore the role different groups’ definitions of Bitcoin have played in constituting its current level of value and what this might entail for cryptocurrency’s future.


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