Interest in cryptocurrency has never been higher, due to Bitcoin’s meteoric rise in value from $800 per coin in January of 2017 to almost $17,000 in December. Interest in alternatives to traditional display ads is also high, thanks to most of the popular web browsers incorporating automatic ad-blocking features.
Bitcoin for the Right-Brained
Bitcoin hasn’t just been growing. It has been booming, surging, blasting — increasing with such force that we start using verbs for explosions and flash floods.
No matter where you turn, it seems like people are talking about it. Maybe you’ve thought that you should be talking about it too, but despair that the world of bitcoin is probably full of decimal points, zigzagging charts, and workaholic men in suits.
Well, my right-brained friend. You are in for a treat. Make yourself some tea, settle into your comfiest chair, and let me give you the main points of bitcoin, things that would truly make for a teat novel.
An International Man of Mystery
Enter Satoshi Nakamoto. With a name like that, you might imagine a thin, handsome, raven-haired man who talks with a slight Japanese accent. Your imagination is as good as anyone’s, since Satoshi Nakamoto, the creator of bitcoin, is a mystery.
When he launched bitcoin in 2009, Satoshi Nakamoto’s online profile stated that he was a man living in Japan born in 1975, but no one knows for sire who he is. He may not be Japanese. He may not be a man. He may not even be one person. There has been much speculation, but no conclusive proof.
A Treasure Hunt
Nestled in the grassy plains of Inner Mongolia-which is not in Mongolia, but in China-is one of the largest bitcoin mines. Instead of underground, it is within eight highlighter-blue factory buildings that almost blend into the sky. Instead of heavy gear and helmets, the workers are In t-shirts and shorts.
Mining scripts that run in the background of sites, making use of the visitor’s computing resources to create little bits of cryptocurrency, are a theoretical way of using the former to remedy the latter. But how practical is this plan, really?
How Script Mining Works
Some popular sites such as Politifact, the movie channel Showtime’s main site, and The Pirate Bay were all caught in late 2017 running mining scripts in the background that users were not made aware of. Some of these sites claimed that hackers had surreptitiously inserted the scripts,
while others confessed to sneaking them in as a new means of revenue generation. An October analysis by security company Trend Micro also found that over 50,000 apps on the Google Play Store would attempt to run some form of cryptocurrency miner in the background while active.
Sites running mining scripts have thus far overwhelmingly been using a script. This script feeds back into a central hub, a massive enterprise that pays affiliates a portion of the cryptocurrency revenue that their mining scripts generate. The script mines the Monero cryptocurrency instead of Bitcoin, generally because Monero is more private (transactions do not have to be listed publicly). The Monero is then usually exchanged for Bitcoin, which is a relatively simple process
As the popularity of these scripts demonstrates widely distributed mining is viable as a means of revenue generation. But does It perform any better than traditional advertising? And what kind of negative consequences might there be? There are two central issues- the ethics of the whole enterprise, and the way in which small cryptocurrency transactions are processed.
The Ethical issue
The first Issue is the simplest: it’s not nice to run scripts in the background and not inform your visitors as to what they’re doing. Bitcoin mining scripts use the CPU of the host computer to do their mining. This might not be a big deal if your visitor is simply browsing the web, or playing a relatively simple game on their phone.