Week #29 (July 20th, 2014)

Uruguay – my first interaction with South America. I had no expectations, actually I had no idea how it was gonna be. I was ready to fight to avoid infringing my oath, but I was also ready to fail – clearly, this would have been a really difficult battle.. I had brought a few dollar bills in my wallet, in case of emergency, since I had been told that exchanging dollars is the best way to get pesos in Uruguay. I did not really want pesos, but the world around me definitely did.

Transportation, as usual, was the main enemy to my oath. After spending almost 1 hour investigating the various possibilities to get out of the airport, I soon realized that there were no possibilities I could use bitcoin to pay either the taxi or the bus. So, unless I would find a human wallet, I was pretty much stuck. Finding a human wallet in an airport in a foreign country – whose language I do not master that well – is, however, a pretty challenging task. Considering I was already late for the reception, I decide to call it an emergency, and went to change my dollar bills into Uruguayan pesos, so that I could take the bus. Of course, i tried to spend my standard 10-15 minutes for explaining to the bus driver that it is important to accept bitcoin, but the driver simply could not care less about that, and just kept ignoring me, pretending he could not understand my language. This was unfortunate, but not too bad, considering I was really not in the mood of doing my customary bitcoin-missionary speech at that point.

Arrived at the conference venue, I was welcomed by delicious drinks and hors d’oeuvres – nothing better to remember that, if Bitcoin does not serve you well, the dollar (or pesos, in that case) are often just redundant in the modern academic society, characterized by abundance and sharing.

The reception went on for a few hours, till my Uruguayan host came to pick me up, to bring me to the house where I’d be staying during the week. Finding a place to stay had been quite a challenge in fact, considering that my university refused to pay for the accommodation expenses (I have no idea why), I could not rely on the notion that I was merely an intermediary between the hotel and my host institution – I had to find an alternative that would not involve spending dollars or pesos. The task was harder than expected. Airbnb was not a possibility because of not accepting bitcoins. So I tried with couchsurfing, but no one had positively replied to my request. Then I started harassing everyone I could think of that might have some kind of connection with anyone living in Montevideo and who could offer me a couch. Again, a much harder task that I would have expected, and I found myself just a few days before flying to Montevideo with no idea where I would be passing the night. But, as usual, things eventually turned out okay. Just one day before jumping on the plane, I got 3 positive answers from 3 different people offering me to stay at their place in Montevideo. So I ended up staying with a really cool person who lived right next to the conference venue (thus eliminating the need to spend pesos for transportation). It had been a really pleasing experience thus far, and I did not want to ruin it by annoying my host with my bitcoin restrictions, asking them to pay for my stuff whenever we’d go out (instead, I’d rather pay for theirs), so I made the rational decision that – while I would try and survive on bitcoin as much as I could whenever I am hanging out on my own – I would not let my oath ruin the relationship I had established with these great people from Montevideo. Just like I had formerly done in Europe with the euro bills, I declared the Uruguayan pesos to no longer count as a currency that would go against my oath. This was, I believe, a good decision, since Uruguay (like many other places on earth) is simply not ready (yet) for widespread Bitcoin adoption.

This did not prevent me from preaching the use of bitcoin to everyone I met though. In particular, as I met with the other people who had offered me a place to stay (in the “corporate suite” of Montevideo Neo’s office), I immediately understood that, even though they were not (yet) so knowledgeable about it, these people would definitely figure out the benefits of Bitcoin pretty soon. One of them was, in fact, in a band and interested in learning more about Creative Commons and the various business models that can be implemented around it. I told him that the best business model for online artists is Flattr, or the  standard donation button, which is often more effective as a bitcoin-donation button. Given his interest in the thing, I promise I would set him up a Bitcoin-wallet, and a website with a Bitcoin-donation QR-code on top of it — my weekly mission !

Week #28 (July 13th, 2014)

Paris! It’s always a pleasure to go back to Paris, not only because most of my friends are there, but also because I know I will not need to worry (too much) about bitcoin – perhaps exactly because all my good friends are there. Before leaving Italy, I had used one of my human-wallets to purchase some italian prelibacies (mainly cheese and prosciutto) to bring to the people that were hosting me, so that I could make them a proper italian dinner that would feed them (and myself) for about one week. Again, I was strongly committed to everything I could not to infringe upon my oath during this week in Paris. And, this time, the plan actually went extremely smoothly.. or even better than that !

It all began on Wednesday, as I went to have dinner at a friend’s house (for once, a friend that is considerate to my bitcoin diet) where I had the pleasure to meet two crazy greek anarchists – who actually hardly knew anything about the Internet, but who  had nonetheless really interesting insights about the more conceptual parts of the discussion. We talked until 5am about anarchism, decentralization, and – of course – about the decentralized social network idea that I had just been elaborating during my visit to Amsterdam. The discussion was really interesting, and to a large extent inspiring, as I began to realize that my research was about to take a new direction, focused less on the legal challenges of decentralized architectures and more on the opportunities of a decentralized society. As we were discussing the reasons that might have brought the cypherpunksvement to fail in its endeavor to establish a free and decentralized society (thanks to the new opportunities provided by the advent of Internet and digital technologies), thie strangest idea came to me, that it was -perhaps- time to create a new movement of people interested in exploring the possibility to turn the old cypherpunk utopia into an actual reality, thanks to the new opportunities provided by the blockchain and cryptography. The idea was born, now it was just a matter of finding the right people.

Well, in fact, these people came to me.. I came to Paris with one big expectation, which turned out to be actually much more successful than I could have ever expected. Few months ago, a friend of mine had put me in touch, through email, with a girl – Solene – who is making a documentary on Bitcoin, and who’s generally interested in everything that comes along it. I was really excited to see her, she seemed really cool via email, and I expected her to be even cooler in live. But as I went to meet her at her squat, she was not there. Instead, her friend was there – some guy sitting on the coach really concentrated in front of his laptop. It only took me a few seconds of confusion, to recognize him as the infamous Amir, the creator of DarkWallet. I had met the rest of the DarkWallet team when I had gone for a visit at Calafou in Spain, but I did not get the chance to meet with Amir, who was travelling around the world at that time. We started chatting about Bitcoin, the blockchain, and other cryptoledger-stuff, and -again- it was a pleasure to chat with someone that knew way more than I did about the topic (in fact, I soon realized I still know almost nothing about how bitcoin works). Amir explained me some of his new ideas, including a really interesting idea to fund the disclosure of digital document by relying exclusively on the blockchain – something that could be used, for instance, to set up a decentralized Wikileaks, and that would probably also make the Proof-of-Custody procedure on Ethereum rather redudant, if not meaningless. The discussion then shifted towards the importance of decentralization to protect privacy and autonomy, and then -somehow- we ended up talking about crypto-anarchism and cyber-capitalism.. until Solene showed up ! Solene is an incredibly cool girl that is just as passionate about Bitcoin as I am, although she approaches it from a much more societal perspective than I do (I actually still have no idea about what’s my perspective on Bitcoin). She met Amir in a squat in London, where she started making her documentary, and she now came back to Paris in order to further her studies and become a better filmmaker. I did not have the chance to see her Bitcoin documentary yet, but I’m sure it’s gonna be amazing. In just a few hours, Amir and Solene became my two best temporary friends, and I spent all the rest of my time in Paris with them, talking about Bitcoin and trying to figure out the yet unexplored opportunities of the blockchain. Not only did Solene know exactly where to go in order to spend Bitcoin in Paris, but she also introduced me to a whole new ‘squat scene’ where spending Bitcoin is unnecesary, since people there simply refuse the institution of money – be it fiat or not.

Week #27 (July 6th, 2014)

Then it was the turn of Amsterdam, where the Information Influx conference was taking place. A really interesting conference, with lots of really interesting people. After spending one year in the US, it was great to talk with european scholars, about a variety of issues ranging from privacy to net neutrality, from decentralized regulation to algorithmic governance, from Bitcoin to Ethereum..

But the really cool thing came on Friday, as I met with the local Bitcoin / Ethereum community, to get dinner with Jeff, Joris, Vlad Zamfir, Nick Savers, and the infamous Casey Kuhlman, whose work I had been following on github since a few weeks already. It was a really nice evening, it was a pleasure to meet like-minded individuals who actually know more about the underlying technology than I did. We chatted about many things, including Ethereum, and Eris of course, and I was happy to realize that I am not alone in this particular section of the crypto-verse. Before I went home, I agreed with Vlad that we would meet again the next day, and that we would think about Ethereum and company until I will leave on Sunday, some kind of Eth-athon ! And we did, in spite of the cold and the rain, and despite the fact that there are actually no all-night places to hang out in Amsterdam, we spent all night, moving from one coffee-shop to the other, from one bar to another, passing through one of the only places that actually accept Bitcoin in the center of Amsterdam (the so-called Bitcoin-straat is in fact only a legend, or a failed attempt at bringing Bitcoin-merchants together into one street) which makes one of the best cakes ever. In terms of the Eth-athon, we did not really ‘do’ anything, as most of the time was spent brainstorming about important topics such as:

  • Proof-of-Work and alternative mining algorithms. Vlad actually came up with a pretty funky idea for an ASIC-resistant mining algorithm, that basically require miners to perform a large number of CPU-intensive functions, which are pseudo-randomly generated by combining the nounce with the components of the previous block.

  • Proof-of-Custody and its applications for the deployment of decentralized dropbox systems, which users can pay to upload files onto, and later to have them uploaded back to them. Through Proof-of-Custody, it becomes possible to deploy distributed online applications that do not depend on any centralized entity paying for the bandwidth, but rely instead on a decentralized network of peers who are paying for the transmission of packets through automated self-clearing escrow contracts.

But the main goal of the evening was, in fact, to figure out how to best address the question of reputation, by elaborating a decentralized trust-based social network relying on reputation as the building block of an identity management system. The idea, in a nutshell, is that people constantly assess each other, as a result of either direct or indirect interactions. Such information is highly subjective in a sense, but it can be aggregated in order to produce a somewhat accurate description of people or things that can be found on the Internet. Information about others can be made public – so that anyone else can benefit from it – or be kept private, or semi-private to the extent that only those who belongs to a trusted network will be able to access it. Trust is dependent on different factors, anyone is free to assess how much they trust their neighbors or friends, but not how much they are in turn trusted by them. Trust is also transitive, in the sense that if A trusts B, and B trusts C, then A can inherent (some of) the trust from B to C. This allows for the establishment of a complex and dynamic network of trust-relationships, that will ultimately determine the amount of data that is being shared amongst community members. Granted, this has some issues with regard to the amount of privacy that people will be able to enforce in such system – where people might be disclosing things about others, without asking for their actual consent. Perhaps, in a blockchain-based society, transparency might eventually replace privacy..

Week #26 (June 29th, 2014)

And then it was time to fly back to Europe: Milano, my home. I don’t need to worry about survival here, because my parents generally take good care of me. Besides, I’m here for the working meeting of the European project I’m working on, which kindly funds all my travel and food costs. Everything should be okay.

But, this time, being okay is not enough, as I have decided to engage into a much larger challenge involving the need to find new ways to democratize bitcoin within the rest of the world.

I first thought about getting my parents to adhere to bitcoin, installing them a wallet and explaining them how to use it. But then I realized that it probably would not really contribute to any kind of democratization, because my parents would simply forget about it as soon as I leave, and never even try to make a bitcoin transaction for whatever purpose whatsoever. I needed to come up with a better idea, but I figured the idea would eventually just come to me.

And it did, in the midst of a taxi ride towards an occupied space in Milan, where we were supposed to meet some of the people from Unsystem (some of them I met last winter in Calafou) who have been working on the development of DarkWallet. We arrived at the space, at 1am, to find an amazing building, pretty much empty and under-exploited, but really great nonetheless. Two guys came to welcome us at the door, and kindly introduced us to the place, and showed us around. But as we started asking about the Unsystem team, we realized that they were long gone, and all was left from them where a bunch of great ideas and some knowledge about bitcoin and other cryptoledger-based applications. They showed us the hacklab: a relatively small room, fairly well equipped, but which obviously lacked the basic ingredients for a hacklab – the actual hackers. The guys were nonetheless knowledgeable enough to be able to talk about bitcoin and other interesting hacks the Unsystem team had taught them, so I figured I’d just give it a try, and propose them my new idea for democratizing bitcoin:

Bitcoin is created by mining, but mining requires highly sophisticated machines nowadays, most of which are not only expensive to buy, but also very expensive to run, in terms of electricity, at least. Because of the high electricity costs, it is nowadays extremely difficult to obtain a decent Return on Investment through mining, unless one invest into a large mining-pool which benefits from large economies of scale. Hence, for most people, mining is no longer a profitable option.

What struck me was that most of the occupied spaces (or squats) generally do not pay for the electricity they consume, since they merely grab it – illegitimaly – from the city cables. Regardless of my personal judgment on whether this is morally right or wrong, fact is that most squats can ultimately rely on a large amount of electricity, which they can exploit for free. Hence, why not use that free electricity for the purpose of mining, so as to eventually generate free money? This is the great democratizing idea of this month: convert squats into mining pools that operate in order to self-finance the squats’ activities.  By jumping around, from squat to squat, I could spread the word, and let them know that they no longer need to struggle, since bitcoin is here to help them. Of course, the initial investment (the costs of the miner) is quite prohibitive for many squaters, but this is gonna be less and less true, since the price of miners will drop as the ability to extract profits from them will decrease over time. Hence, squatters could just set up a deal, getting the miners for free in exchange of giving a percentage of the benefits to the actual owner of the miner, till they earn enough bitcoin to actually purchase one of their own. A genius idea, leading to a somewhat pareto-optimal situation, where everybody wins except for the city, whose electricity bills might raise by a few fractional numbers.

Week #25 (June 22th, 2014)

Good week on the Bitcoin front! I met with Elizabeth Stark and Michael Sofaer, who came for a conference at MIT, which gave the chance to talk about the blockchain once again, with new fresh meatly minds  J

Of course, considering my monotopic character concerning bitcoin and cryptocurrencies more generally, one might think that I will eventually just repeat myself all the time. This is very unlikely though, considering that the cryptoworld evolves so fast, and that my brain seems to have reprogrammed itself to keep producing new ideas all the time (whether realistic or not).

So as soon as I realized that Michael was involved with the development of Diaspora*, I couldn’t help myself but try and pitch him my idea about using the blockchain to enable some decentralized trust-based social network based on reputation/trust. Indeed, if it is true that we are shifting towards a decentralized society, then we should also decentralize the applications. Albeit more decentralized than a traditional server, any centralized DAO on the blockchain still mimic some of the characteristics of the former centralized paradigm. We want to think more organically, let’s forget about clients and servers, and just think in terms of objects or entities interacting with one another, according to some internal functions and parameters, something akin to an Object-Oriented society (OOS). Michael was not found of this idea, which he only could appreciate on its artistic dimension. Michael has a much more pragmatic approach to application development, which – according to him – should actually be able to satisfy actual users’ need, rather than just trying to innovate with a new technologies that does not actually provide any tangible advantages at the moment. In the end, we both agreed to disagree, and we move on to other interesting blockchain-topics.

One of them related to my oath, the Bitcoin diet, which started as a challenge to democratize the use of Bitcoin amongst common people, and ended up being a useless restriction on the type of activities I am actually able to realize in my life. I told him about my initial motivations, to figure out by myself how to survive into the harsh bitcoin world, so as to make it easier for fellow btc’es to live up to their expectations. And I told him how I eventually just ended up taking care of my own survival needs, and giving up on the rest. The discussion helped me realize that, if I were not to stop my oath, I should at least update it, so that I would give me – every week – a bitcoin challenge to fulfill, or a mission, to the least, that would help democratizing bitcoin. Michael also gave me a longer-term challenge: to deploy on the blockchain a mechanism (with pay-to-hash script, multisig or the like) allowing people to buy into ‘coupons’ and then redistribute the benefits to everyone involved – a difficult challenge actually, but I’m happy to take it on (btw, if anyone has any idea as to how to achieve this, please drop me a line  ;)

The weekly mission was a rather funny one: bitcoin basking. Actually, basking is probably not the right word, because basking involves asking for money – and, as we all know, bitcoin is not money (at least not according to the IRS). So, we merely went on the street, with a few instruments, and a sign (a QR-code representation of the bitcoin wallet of our newly created bitcoin band) with nothing more than one sentence saying “no US dollars accepted”. And so we played, with a lot of improvisation and good intentions, we played some covers of well-known songs, whose lyrics were reinterpreted on-the-fly to fit with the bitcoin theme of our band. No bitcoin received in the end, but a great success!

Week #23 (June 8st, 2014)

This week, I would like to elaborate on the concept of “Sabir” – an alternative value model in the commons-based sharing economy.

I. The role of money in the market economy

Current dominant social systems featuring a market economy are for the most part based on a monetary system. Money, including all currencies and their derived formats (gold, cash, bonds, securities, etc.) plays a core function in the market economy. Money can be used to evaluate the market value of a large variety of resources, and price-tag them into goods to be exchanged. To the extent that it can be stored, money can also indicate one’s wealth, estimating the societal value of individuals according to how much money they have accumulated over time.
Over the past centuries, money has been an extremely useful and important medium to help human society develop into modernity. Yet, money is incapable of understanding the value of non-market resources, i.e. one can’t simply use money to evaluate people’s social values, from their credibilities, to their social responsibilities, or creativities, etc.

II. The rise of the non-market ecosystem

On the Internet, the production and dissemination of information is increasingly done outside of the market economy. Production is based on voluntary cooperation amongst peers and resources are released under specific licenses (such as Open Source and Creative Commons licenses) so that they can be freely used and reused by everyone. This is what Benkler defined as Commons-based Peer Production (CBPP), a new model of production that lends itself to a different economic system based on the notions of “abundance” and “sharing”, and which does not properly fit within the framework of most conventional economic theories based on the notion of “scarcity” and “exchange”.

Hence, conventional market mechanisms are unable to estimate the overall social value of CBPP. Without the traditional system of “pricing”, one can no longer rely on a universal unit of analysis (value proxy) that can be used to assess and compare the value of different CBPP platforms, as well as the value contributed by various individuals to these platforms.

III. The need for an universal denominator

We need a universal denominator of value (other than price) capable of understanding and measuring the value generated by CBPP. Yet, as opposed to price which is linked to the product or service of exchange, such indicator should be linked to the individuals contributing to the commons, and serve as a proxy for the value of their contribution (expressed by the amount of gratitude they receive, and ponderated by the value of the commons they contributed to). Moreover, in order to ensure that value can be stored over time, such indicator should stick to the same individual during a whole lifetime, i.e. it should not be transferrable (although, just like price, its value may fluctuate over time).

IV. SABIR

With Sabir, we propose to implement something akin to a karma-system that would act as a proxy for commons-value (as opposed to market-value) in the CBPP ecosystem.

As individuals contribute to the commons, they receive a variety of karma-points from the commons-based institution they have contributed to (expressed in their own karma-system). Sabir represent the “lingua franca” between these different systems: it translates individual contributions into a numeric value according to one or more customized algorithms ponderating every contribution with the overall social value of the commons to which they contributed. Just like the price does in the market economy, Sabir will thus allow for individual contributions to be compared according to a common denominator of value.

Moreover, by introducing a common numeric value, Sabir also establish a common language that could act as a bridge between the CBPP ecosystem and the market economy.  Hence, people who highly contributed to the commons but who remained outside of the market economy might eventually be able to interact with the market economy, insofar as some commercial player recognizes the value of their contribution to the commons, and decide to reward them accordingly.

Week #22 (June 1st, 2014)

Another one of these weeks in which nothing really happened on the practical front (i.e. I have no interesting challenges to describe), but lots of things happened in the intellectual realm.

It all began with the Ethereum meetup on tuesday, where I finally had the chance to meet James d’Amico, a really great Bitcoin/Ethereum enthusiast which seems to know more about the story of Bitcoin than anyone I have ever met before. I also met a bunch of other folks interested in exploring the specificities of Ethereum (mainly from a financial perspective), although the discussion often ended up diverging more towards Bitcoin than Ethereum.

The most interesting takeaway from the meetup was, in fact, not about Ethereum, but about the flaws in my Bitcoin challenge. As I was explaining to the people out there, that I could not order food at the restaurant because the place did not accept bitcoin, I – of course – had to explain the whole story, about my oath and my obligation to only live off Bitcoin. People were obviously interested in hearing out the details, and that is when I realized that something was wrong with my oath. In fact, as I was listening to myself explaining how I managed to get the stuff I wanted without  spending any dollar, I realised that my oath was less and less about figuring out creative ways to spend bitcoin, but more and more about finding ways to cheat or abuse the system, in order to get stuff for free. And while that could be an interesting challenge by and of itself, this was definitely not the challenge I wanted to engage in.. something had to change!

During the week, I thus have been thinking a lot about the use of cryptocurrencies for promoting the social good and for supporting the so-called sharing economy that is becoming increasingly popular nowadays. For years now, I always had this feeling that Bitcoin (and cryptocurrencies in general) are only one of the many applications that could be implemented with this wonderful technology that is the blockchain. In particular, instead of focusing on money, or currency, I have been thinking a lot about how this new technology could be used to fuel the other side of the economy (the one that operates outside of the market, and should probably not even been regarded as an “economy”, but rather as an “ecosystem” perhaps?). In fact, platforms like Ethereum could potentially be used as a means to help the commons, e.g. by creating a tool to assess and/or compare the value of commons-based production – which operate outside of the market economy, and cannot therefore rely on traditional market mechanism (such as the mechanism of pricing) in order to communicate its value to the world.

We need to start thinking about an alternative system (other than price) that is more suitable as a proxy for value in the sharing economy. It is, however, extremely important that this indicator can also be understood by market actors, so that these two ecosystems – the commons and the market – which currently rely on different value mechanisms (and are therefore unable to understand each other) could eventually interact with one another through a lingua franca: a common denominator of value acting as an interface between the market and the non-market world. As a result, non-market actors could benefit from the goods or service provided by market actors, without having to engage into a market transaction. If market actors understand the value generated by these non-market actors, they might decide to reward them (because of ideological values, or perhaps just in order to acquire visibility or increase the reputation) by offering some of their goods or services for free. Hence, people operating within the commons would no longer be excluded from the resources that are currently exclusive to the market.

Week #20 (May 18th, 2014)

Off to Africa this time ! I was expecting this week to be quite an interesting week on the Bitcoin front, and of course it was. I landed in Dakar and, after spending hours in a hot, mosquito-infested room waiting to get my visa, I finally got myself out of the airport – but only be harassed by a dozen taxi-drivers trying to get me to purchase their ride. Of course, I was not going to lose just yet, so I started to look for public transportation, but it turns out that these were the closest thing to public transportation I could get. Just before I was about to give up, and take out some cash from the ATM, I notice a really sweaty man holding a card with my name on it, I guess it was my ride. I followed him as he thought the hord of taxi-drivers, and eventually got myself into one of these taxi on the way to Ker Thiossane, an amazing cultural center that would be hosting me for the coming week. Upon arrival, my fear immediately disapeared. Living off Bitcoin here would definitely be a challenge, but I realized that I would be well taken care of. Ker Thiossane had booked me a room in a nearby house (this seems to be most obvious thing to do in Senegal, instead of relying of ridicoulously expensive hotels which are designed only and exclusively for tourists) and they even gave me a per-diem that would allow me to survive for the whole week. A difficult decision had to be made here: should I simply refuse the per-diem and do my best to actually live off bitcoins ? or should I just take it and make it a deal that since these are not dollars, I could fairly spend them without any guilt ? Confused, I decided to just take them, and then think about it later.

It all went well for the first day, since not only was Ker Thiossane taking care of our housing, it also took care of our daily meals (actually it didn’t, it was just providing us with some delicious snakes every once in a while, but that was more than enough for my limited food needs).

The problems came when Ker Thiossane suddenly disconnected their wifi router because of logistical issue with the art exhibition they were setting up. After spending the whole day trying to figure out a way to get the WiFi working with a different working, and after brainstorming several alternatives together with the local geek who did not want to reconfigure the router, I realized the situation was critical and that I would probably never manage to convince him.. I had to find another way. I started thinking a lot about mesh networking, perhaps I could try and talk to the neighbors and ask them to share their connection, but – it turns out – the neighbors did not have Internet at all. And so the decision was made: since I could not even try and spend bitcoins without a proper Internet connection, I would invest my per-diem into buying a Internet usb-key, so that I would have access to the Internet anytime and anywhere. I’m not sure about how much the per-diem was (I did not want to convert its value into dollar), but I spent half of my weekly budget on that usb-key – which was, indeed, worth every single cent of it (as it turns out Internet would otherwise have been impossible to find in Dakar).

I had one week to go, with not much budget left, so I started scouting the ground for bitcoin-awareness. Not surprisingly, most street merchants had never heard about bitcoin, not did they seem to be willing to engage into the conversation as I began to explain it to them. I would have to boycot them. I went and explore more “sophisticated” shops, like supermarkets and the like. They did not seem to be any more aware than the street merchants, in fact, they mostly thought I was trying to rip them off.

I started getting worry that I would have to restrain myself to a no-money journey, which would basically mean that I would be stuck in Ker Thiossane for the rest of the week. That did not sound really attractive considering that I had never been to Africa before, and I really did not want my bitcoin-diet to get in the way of my exploratory journey. So I started looking for human-wallets, people that I could try and convert into bitcoin users. Unfortunately, I had not considered the local specificity of Senegal, where most people do not have credit cards, nor can they use Paypal because their bank (assuming they have one) do not let them transfer money to it. I was stuck, so I decided to deal with it: I would spend the remainder of my per-diem (because it was given to me anyways) but not a single extra cent (cause that would require me converting dollars into local francs, which would definitely go against my oath). And so I did, it was not really difficult since life in Senegal is extremely cheap as long as you stay away from the touristic traps, and I actually managed to be pretty well off with half of my per-diem buget – in fact, I even ended up with some extra money which I gladly gave back to where it came from.

My conclusion from this week is twofold: Senegal is definitely not ready for Bitcoin (mainly because of the lack of Internet, as even the 3G was extremely flaky..), it could, however, greatly benefit from it, since most people are currently unable to purchase anything online: Bitcoin could present itself as a useful solution for online purchases and microcredits, if only an operator made it easy for them to transfert money between their offline and online wallets – something akin to what Empeza is doing in Kenya and other African countries. Perhaps a good business idea ?