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Bitcoin and Yap stone money, once again.

Summary:
In October 2015 I wrote a post in which I compared Bitcoin with Yap island stone money. Farfetched? No. Today, Sciencenews published an article by Bruce Bower. He states that archeologists nowadays argue the same thing. An excerpt: Archaeologist Scott Fitzpatrick and finance professor Stephen McKeon, both of the University of Oregon in Eugene, see parallels between the public, decentralized way in which rai limestone money on the island of Yap was valued and distributed and the modern-day blockchain technology used for Bitcoin and other digital currency transactions. Mining Rai: Yap residents traveled to nearby islands where limestone was mined and carved into circular rai. At home, the miners described each item’s manufacturing history to the community so that everyone knew a rai’s

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In October 2015 I wrote a post in which I compared Bitcoin with Yap island stone money. Farfetched? No. Today, Sciencenews published an article by Bruce Bower. He states that archeologists nowadays argue the same thing. An excerpt:

Archaeologist Scott Fitzpatrick and finance professor Stephen McKeon, both of the University of Oregon in Eugene, see parallels between the public, decentralized way in which rai limestone money on the island of Yap was valued and distributed and the modern-day blockchain technology used for Bitcoin and other digital currency transactions.

Mining

Rai: Yap residents traveled to nearby islands where limestone was mined and carved into circular rai. At home, the miners described each item’s manufacturing history to the community so that everyone knew a rai’s worth.

Bitcoin: A Bitcoin miner solves a complex mathematical puzzle to release units of the cryptocurrency. Blockchain technology verifies the transaction for all those in the network to see.

Storage (custody)

Rai: By displaying rai in public places, villagers and others could verify the quality and features of each item.

Bitcoin: Sets of bitcoins are held in a digital ledger where network participants can check the accuracy of ownership and value claims.

Peer-to-peer negotiation

Rai: A Yapese group worked out a deal with nearby islanders to quarry certain limestone deposits.

Bitcoin: This process occurs when a Bitcoin miner receives a digital request for Bitcoins.

Exchange

Rai: After verification and placement in a public place, rai could be exchanged for various goods and services.

Bitcoin: After verification and placement on the blockchain, Bitcoins can be exchanged between owners or given for various goods and services.

Auditability

Rai: Oral transaction histories for each rai were available to all community members on Yap.

Bitcoin:  Full transaction histories for each Bitcoin are available to all those in a blockchain network.

Merijn T. Knibbe
Economic historian, statistician, outdoor guide (coastal mudflats), father, teacher, blogger. Likes De Kift and El Greco. Favorite epoch 1890-1930.

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