I'll explain how Bitcoin works.

How Does Bitcoin Work?

By now you’ve probably heard about Bitcoin and know that it’s not an actual physical coin. But if it’s not a coin, then what is it? How do you “own” one? Why is it worth money? How do you give it away? This short article contains a brief answer to these questions and how Bitcoin works.

How Does Money Work?

Money only has value because we all agree that it has value. Green pieces of paper with images of dead presidents can only be exchanged for food because we agree to exchange them for food. We could exchange anything else we agree has value.

Cash is convenient since it is lightweight and easily exchangeable. But on the island of Yap, money takes the form of gigantic stone coins the size of statues. No one moves them around – they simply agree on who owns them. When something large and important needs to be purchased, the community agrees that ownership of the “Yapcoin” has been exchanged. People on the island know who owns which Yapcoins. In addition to knowing how Bitcoin works, nerdy people might even know the entire history of all the Yapcoins.

Bitcoin: The Yapcoin Of The Internet

Find out how Bitcoin works.

Unlike cash, Bitcoin isn’t a physical form of currency.

Bitcoin works more like Yapcoins than cash. The key difference is that a Bitcoin isn’t a physical object at all. It’s a digital object which doesn’t “exist.” Like on Yap, a Bitcoin is owned by whoever we agree owns it. But unlike on Yap, the Bitcoin’s ownership is recorded in a digital ledger, which is a digital notebook that records Bitcoin exchanges.

On Yap, the history of coin exchanges is stored as knowledge among the community and is distributed. Each family probably knows the history of whichever Yapcoins they own, and maybe whichever ones are also nearby. Like on Yap, the ledger Bitcoin uses is distributed among hundreds or thousands of servers. Copies of the digital ledger exist on several servers throughout the world. You can even download the most recent version if you have enough hard disk space (and patience).

Preventing Dodgy Entries

If you’re an unscrupulous hacker, you might wonder how Bitcoin works and if it’s possible to alter the ledger to give yourself more digital currency. This isn’t possible, in part because each entry in the distributed ledger contains a fingerprint of the entire history which precedes it.

Let’s think about the ledger as a chain of entries that are arranged in order on a line. Each entry contains a special number which serves as its “fingerprint,” along with information about how much money was sent. The crucial point is this: the fingerprint of each entry is computed using the fingerprint of the previous entry as input. Since each entry depends mathematically on the previous entry, any change at any point along the chain will require a change in the fingerprints of all future entries.

If you were diligent, you could download a copy of the ledger and “cook the books” by changing all the required entries in your local copy. But since the distributed ledger is publicly available, your cooked books will be easily detected. No one will agree that your copy of the ledger is correct. It would be like arriving on Yap and claiming that you own a Yapcoin that everyone knows belongs to a local fisherman.

Blockchain is a complicated technology, and there are many details which are not present in this simplified explanation. I hope that I’ve given you enough insight into blockchain for you to understand how Bitcoin works. It’s just a number in a ledger, which has been copied to many, many locations, in order to make it very difficult to “cook the books.”

You should think about the connection between technology and your relationship.

Ways Technology Could Improve Your Relationship

Have you ever thought about the link between technology and your relationship? It goes deeper than you may think. While some media outlets may argue that tech can destroy relationships, I think the opposite. In fact, in many ways, technology has helped people connect with others on a meaningful level, more than ever before. Here’s how it could actually improve your relationship.

Easier To Make Plans

With texting and messaging apps, you can make plans in a matter of minutes. Smartphones let you conveniently send a quick text to your significant other while you’re in line at the supermarket or getting your hair done. And if you both happen to be free at the same time? You can meet up and grab dinner. Meanwhile, if your communication was limited to regular (or even scheduled) phone calls, these kind of spontaneous plans might not happen. So, it’s not necessarily true that people who spend more time online are complete shut-ins.

Stay Connected When Distance Separates You

Maybe you have to attend a family reunion over the weekend, or your significant other has to embark on a week-long business trip. The truth is, when it comes to technology and your relationship, you can stay connected whenever you want. Talking to each other throughout the day over text can make you both feel like you’re right there beside each other. So, handling any kind of long distance situation becomes much easier.

Better Communication Skills

Like everything else, technology is what you make of it. And so is social media. Because it’s meant to bring people together, you can use it to improve your communication skills with your partner. Do you feel like you withdraw too much from them at times? You can use these tools at your fingertips to make an effort to text your SO more often. This first step can create better communication habits.

Keep Track Of Important Dates

A digital calendar reminds you of important dates.

Use a digital calendar to stay on top of important dates.

No one wants to be that guy who forgot their anniversary with their partner. If you’re one of those people who simply can’t keep track of dates, then the calendar app on your smartphone is your best friend. You can use it to remind you about your SO’s birthday, as well as other plans you have in the future. This way, you’ll never have to disappoint your partner by forgetting an important holiday or planned trip.

We're more dependent on technology than ever.

How We’ve Become Too Dependent On Technology

As you may know, I purchased my first smartphone about ten years ago. I never could have predicted how much I’d depend on it each day. Recently, I came across an interesting article about how Gossip Girl seemed to predict how we now interact with technology and social media. That was one of my favorite shows when I was in middle and high school. What was so unique about it at the time was how the Internet pretty much invaded the personal lives of the main characters. Their secrets and relationships would be revealed on Gossip Girl’s blog throughout the series. Nowadays, this doesn’t seem so scandalous because of how connected we are to the Internet and each other. So, how have we become more dependent on technology over the years?

We Need To Be Connected 24/7

Do you remember what it’s like to hear complete silence and read a book without any distracting notifications? I couldn’t until I started making a conscious effort to turn my phone off. Like many other people, I feel the need to be connected to everyone 24/7. Rarely do I put my phone on silence, because what if I don’t answer that text or email right away? It’s hard to disconnect when people expect us to get back to them at all times. I can’t even imagine what it’d be like to go camping for several days without any reception.

Shopping Addictions Are More Common

Shopping addictions are much more real now.

The Internet has made shopping addictions much more common.

Shopping addictions aren’t new – just look at Mrs. Lincoln back in the 1800’s. The difference is that we now have devices that let us make purchases in a matter of minutes. We can buy virtually anything in just a few clicks. Plus, when you aren’t paying in cold, hard cash, it’s a little more difficult to grasp just how much you’re spending. Shopping addictions are a very real problem that have made us even more dependent on technology.

We Have Major FOMO

In one of my favorite episodes of Broad City, “Hashtag FOMO,” Abbi and Ilana spend a night in search of the perfect party because they don’t want to miss out on something phenomenal. I think a lot of us can relate to this mindset – we might enjoy what we’re doing, but what if there’s something else out there that’s even better? FOMO (fear of missing out) becomes second-nature when we’re all constantly seeing how other people live their lives.

Now that we know we’re dependent on technology, we need to figure out what to do about it. Personally, I try to turn my phone off at least an hour before I go to sleep. This lets me decompress from my day and leaves me time for my other hobbies, like reading. Find out what works for you!