Wednesday, December 27, 2017

A Delightfully Dogecoin-y Day

Christmas lunches with family are the best barometer for figuring out whether or not something has hit the mainstream. Bitcoin breached that barrier this year as our table slowly exhausted time-tested topics like the weather, noche buena food, and the days old chocolate cake that the host was flogging on us to avoid spoilage.  Given that everyone and their titos and titas are now talking about bitcoin and other cryptos, I won't bore you with any of my thoughts on the matter since I'm hardly a subject matter expert anyway.

What I do want to share with you is a delightful cryptocurrency (henceforth called "crypto" to save my fingers) I rediscovered called dogecoin.  I'd been reading about the proliferation of ICOs and given how it was supposed to be technically easy (I wouldn't know, since I don't code) I toyed with the idea of making a crypto for my company Squeaky Wheel as a bit of fun.  To see if anyone else had done something similar I did a google search for "ridiculous or funny cryptocurrencies.  Turns out Dogecoin had beat us to it. I faintly remember hearing about dogecoin and saw it as a silly little joke, but after leearning more, I'm convinced it was a stroke of accidental genius.

Bitcoin and other crypto advocates can be pretty cult-y once they've been converted.  Filled with the Spirit of Satoshi, they go forth and utter screeds against the evils of fiat currency and inflation, lamenting the control of big banks and government over our lives.  It's not that they're (entirely) wrong, its just that the self-seriousness and revolutionary fervor they projected often triggered involuntary eye-rolls on my part.  Dogecoin was the perfect counterpoint, injecting some humor and levity into the crypto community at large.

A hardcore community grew up rapidly around Dogecoin and took it very seriously, but in the most delightful of ways.  They call themselves shibes in honor of the original shiba inu that sparked the doge meme.  What's even more incredible is they seem to have figured out a way to grow and be open to new members without the toxicity that eventually overwhelms even the most well-intentioned communities. What exactly have the shibes been up to?

They raised money to send a Jamaican bobsled team to the Sochi Olympics.  They built a well in Kenya with Charity : Water.  Currently they are buying socks for the homeless and milk for underprivileged people in Brazil. Of course they don't just restrict themselves to noble pursuits.  People organize fun competitions like this one to celebrate 2018 as "The Year of the Doge".   The first rule of the competition states, "Create a fun video about Dogecoin. It doesn’t need to make a lot of sense or be professional, it just needs to be FUN. Example:"

I decided I wanted to be a shibe and after doing some research on the dogecoin subreddit, I opted to help out the folks at by joining their folding at home team.  Donating spare computer cycles for medical research to earn Dogecoin that I might be able to use for charitable causes seems like the perfect virtuous cycle.

Like many others I've also invested a small portion of my money in the hopes that their value continues to rise. There's no doubt that the blockchain and cryptocurrencies are technologies that will change society in ways we do not yet understand.  But perhaps the best thing to come out of the world of crypto so far is that different kinds of cryptocurrencies can coexist with each other, and you can eventually pick and choose the crypto (and by default the community) that suits your personality.  Economist and author Bernard Lietaer once wrote that "For any “thing” to act as money, it requires a community to agree that a particular object has a certain value in an exchange."  So what's the value of Dogecoin? Much joke. Many Funs. Such Charitable. Wow.