The Crypto-Currency Ecosystem

Andreas Antonopoulos | O'Reilly Radar | June 27, 2013

A taxonomy of alt-coins, meta-coins and blockchain-riders.

Just like the IP protocol, bitcoin is the culmination of several important advancements, all combining to form a paradigm-changing innovation. The Internet Protocol was not just an arrangement of headers and payload. It also represented the triumph of packet-switching, layered protocols and distributed routing algorithms — four or five critical innovations, combined in a single implementation that changed the world. Bitcoin is a combination of several innovations, arranged in a novel way: a peer-to-peer network, a proof-of-work algorithm, a distributed timestamped accounting ledger and an elliptic-curve cryptography and key infrastructure. Each of these parts is novel on its own, but the combination and specific arrangement was revolutionary for its time and is beginning to show up in more innovations outside bitcoin itself.

Take a look around bitcoin and you will quickly notice that these four parts are being mashed up in even more novel ways. There’s an ecosystem of innovation boiling around the bitcoin proof-of-concept implementation, in the form of alt-coins, meta-coins and blockchain-riders.