It can be hard explaining bitcoin to people who don’t understand it. And it’s not just bitcoin alone. It’s the cryptocurrency, blockchain and distributed ledger thing. For most newbies, it can be both convoluted and confusing.
That’s understandable, as most people who have a passing knowledge about it, had to deal with the same issues. Even then, it’s still not as easy to explain.
In fact, one of the major barriers to getting more people involved in bitcoin trade and exchange is bitcoin users themselves not knowing how to accurately describe it.
Many are torn between describing it as an asset that can be used to stare value, and a currency that can be exchanged –possibly taking the place of fiat currency in the long run.
The good news is, some smart folks who know how to break down complex terms and make them really simple, have come up with two new ideas –analogies if you will- that will help you explain the concept of bitcoin easily.
The first is its similarity to text messaging, but with financial rewards, the second is its similarity to a fungus –yikes, but you’ll get it when we break it down. These two descriptions will beginners and anyone interested in learning more about bitcoin and how it works.
Bitcoin Similar to Texting
This analogy was initially proposed on the Bitcoin Matters podcast, where an individual called “Beautyon” stated that bitcoin’s operation is similar to a numbers based texting. So, it’s like sending an SMS with the contents being just numbers and nothing else.
The numbers represent bitcoin, and are valuable because unlike your regular SMS that’s virtually unlimited, they are very limited in volume. Because these numbers are valuable, it means that they can be used to pay for stuff.
According to the podcast that was transcribed by David van der Weele,
“Anybody can download a bitcoin app on their phone and start using it to buy things online or [receive bitcoin] for doing work for others.”
Do you see how similar this is to your regular texting on skype, WhatsApp and other chatting apps? All these apps have in common is that these apps need to be downloaded and installed on a user’s phone before they can send and receive messages.
Bitcoin Shares Significant Similarities to Fungi
To understand this, you would need to have some sort of familiarity with certain microorganisms –in this case fungus.
The analogy, presented by Brandon Quittem, is that bitcoin’s network consisting of its wallets, miners, nodes and so much more, function in the same manner as fungus when they spread. According to Quittem,
“Fungi don’t have a central ‘brain,” […] “they’re decentralized networks distributing information and resources. These fungal networks form consensus on resource management, reproduction, and defense strategy.”
Maybe this is why the name Mycelium was chosen for the popular bitcoin wallet, as these microorganisms typically tend to band together to form colonies.
Quittem also added that
“Fungi are the most successful species on our planet. They “inherited the earth” after all five mass extinction events … because fungi are antifragile decentralized networks and can adapt quickly and don’t need sunlight to survive and find their own food. Bitcoin will become the most successful monetary species because it’s decentralized, adapts (relatively) quickly, finds its own food (unmet demand), and doesn’t need government support. In the event of a mass monetary extinction event, bitcoin will ‘inherit the earth.’”
While this notion of bitcoin functioning and operating like mycelium may not be appealing to many, the reality is that it does drive home a salient point about how it works.
After all, the bitcoin network has always survived, despite all the attempts at taking down the decentralized network –the exact same way a fungus colony works.