What We Want to Know When We Search for Bitcoin

Google's suggestions tell us a lot about the current state of the hot new digital currency.
More
A Raspberry Pi bitcoin mining rig (Adafruit)

Bitcoin, the newish digital currency, is a hot topic today, as legislators on Capitol Hill took up the issue of regulating this new form of money. 

We started to wonder what people outside DC wondered about Bitcoin. So, we modified a bot to scrape all of Google's suggestions when people started to search for Bitcoin. Imagine typing "bitcoin a" into Google's search box and copying what the search engine's suggestions are. Then "bitcoin b" and "bitcoin c," etc. That's what the script does: it's a probe of the hivemind.

What it creates is a kind of ABCs of the digital currency, and it represents a compendium of issues that relatively large numbers of people are wondering about. 

New Bitcoins enter circulation when computers solve some very complex mathematical problems. Doing this computation is called Bitcoin mining and it's what many of Google's suggestions relate to.

There are plenty of other search strings you'd expect: "bitcoin ATM," because the first one was recently installed in Vancouver, BC, or "bitcoin arbitrage," because that seems like a good thing to do with currency. There are the names of clients (Qt), trading platforms (Kraken), and other companies in the ecosystem (Zip Zap). 

Ah, but some things are more revealing of Bitcoin culture. Look down at f: "bitcoin faucet." A faucet, in the lingo, is a site that gave away free Bitcoins in exchange for, say, getting SMS ads

Or at k: "bitcoin khan academy." The online learning startup has a great video introduction to the currency

Or down at X: for its infancy, most people abbreviated Bitcoins BTC. But recently, XBT has come into usage, following the model for other valuable things not issued by a country (like gold: XAU).

Fascinatingly, only four geographic regions are mentioned: Kenya, Korea, San Francisco, and Zimbabwe. Together, they form a constellation of places that are interested in digital currency for related, but slightly different reasons.

In other words, this list is a snapshot of the topics and issues that are swirling around Bitcoin right this very minute. It'll be different in a few months, and in a few years, all record of it will have been erased by the new collective concerns of Internet searchers.

 

bitcoin asic

bitcoin address

bitcoin arbitrage

bitcoin atm

bitcoin blockchain

bitcoin bank

bitcoin buy

bitcoin block

bitcoin charts

bitcoin calculator

bitcoin conversion

bitcoin client

bitcoin difficulty

bitcoin dollar

bitcoin download

bitcoin debit card

bitcoin exchange

bitcoin exchange rate

bitcoin exchange rate history

bitcoin etf

bitcoin foundation

bitcoin forums

bitcoin faucet

bitcoin for dummies

bitcoin graph

bitcoin gambling

bitcoin github

bitcoin generator

bitcoin hardware

bitcoin hash rate

bitcoin historical prices

bitcoin hash

bitcoin investment

bitcoin in usd

bitcoin index

bitcoin inventor

bitcoin jobs

bitcoin javascript

bitcoin javascript miner

bitcoin js

bitcoin khan academy

bitcoin korea

bitcoin kraken

bitcoin kenya

bitcoin local

bitcoin lottery

bitcoin litecoin

bitcoin legal

bitcoin mining

bitcoin mining calculator

bitcoin miner

bitcoin market

bitcoin news

bitcoin network hashrate

bitcoin next difficulty

bitcoin news today

bitcoin otc

bitcoin opportunity fund

bitcoin options

bitcoin offline wallet

bitcoin price

bitcoin price history

bitcoin profit calculator

bitcoin paper

bitcoin qt

bitcoin quote

bitcoin qr code

bitcoin quantum computing

bitcoin rate

bitcoin reddit

bitcoin regulation

bitcoin raspberry pi

bitcoin stock

bitcoin store

bitcoin startups

bitcoin san francisco

bitcoin to usd

bitcointalk

bitcoin ticker

bitcoin trading

bitcoin usd

bitcoin usb miner

bitcoin usd chart

bitcoin usb

bitcoin value

bitcoin value chart

bitcoin value usd

bitcoin vs litecoin

bitcoin wallet

bitcoin wiki

bitcoin worth

bitcoin wallet iphone

bitcoin x

bitcoin xbt

bitcoin xbox

bitcoin youtube

bitcoin yearly chart

bitcoin yahoo finance

bitcoin yahoo answers

bitcoin zap

bitcoin zip zap

bitcoin zerohedge

bitcoin zimbabwe

Jump to comments
Presented by

Alexis C. Madrigal

Alexis Madrigal is a senior editor at The Atlantic, where he oversees the Technology Channel. He's the author of Powering the Dream: The History and Promise of Green Technology. More

The New York Observer calls Madrigal "for all intents and purposes, the perfect modern reporter." He co-founded Longshot magazine, a high-speed media experiment that garnered attention from The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and the BBC. While at Wired.com, he built Wired Science into one of the most popular blogs in the world. The site was nominated for best magazine blog by the MPA and best science Web site in the 2009 Webby Awards. He also co-founded Haiti ReWired, a groundbreaking community dedicated to the discussion of technology, infrastructure, and the future of Haiti.

He's spoken at Stanford, CalTech, Berkeley, SXSW, E3, and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and his writing was anthologized in Best Technology Writing 2010 (Yale University Press).

Madrigal is a visiting scholar at the University of California at Berkeley's Office for the History of Science and Technology. Born in Mexico City, he grew up in the exurbs north of Portland, Oregon, and now lives in Oakland.

Get Today's Top Stories in Your Inbox (preview)

Saving Central: One High School's Struggle After Resegregation

Meet the students and staff at Tuscaloosa’s all-black Central High School in a short documentary film by Maisie Crow. 


Elsewhere on the web

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register. blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

Where Time Comes From

The clocks that coordinate your cellphone, GPS, and more

Video

Computer Vision Syndrome and You

Save your eyes. Take breaks.

Video

What Happens in 60 Seconds

Quantifying human activity around the world

Writers

Up
Down

More in Technology

Just In