But while Dogecoin began as a joke, I and others — such as Business Insider’s Joe Weisenthal — took it pretty seriously from the start. And since its launch on Dec. 8th, it has showed how a new online currency can quickly take on qualities of money and become a medium of exchange.
Dogecoin is built on the original open-source Bitcoin software, which means it is a fast, secure, and inexpensive way of sending money anywhere in the world. People are already using it to buy and sell goods and services on online forums such as Reddit’s Dogemarket, and to tip other Reddit users’ comments.
But more than that, I was impressed by Dogecoin’s rapidly growing community and powerful identity. Dogecoin, unlike the hundreds of other cryptocurrencies that have sprung up, had an immediately recognizable personality and a strength of character that the market leaders — Bitcoin and Litecoin — seemed to lack. It was, for lack of a better word, fun.
Typically, countries put the faces of political leaders or other national luminaries on their currency. But cryptocurrencies are not tied to any state. They are an internet payment system. Why not make a Shiba Inu that has made millions of people around the world laugh the face of internet money?
This week, Dogecoin’s Reddit community — in the spirit of the Disney classic Cool Runnings — raised $40,000 to send the cash-strapped Jamaican bobsled team to the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. This great act of charity will not only allow some people to achieve their dream of competing at the Olympics, but also showed the potential for Dogecoin as a medium for large-scale giving.
Furthermore, it succeeded in raising the profile of Dogecoin. Dogecoin is already the second most-traded cryptocurrency in the world by volume, with $14,830,106 traded in the last 24 hours, behind only Bitcoin with $20,499,372. That’s some pretty impressive growth for a coin less than two months old.
Of course, the internet is fickle and technology is ever-evolving. Dogecoin and its siblings may be superseded by new competitors offering technological improvements. Or it could be damaged by legal restrictions. But by having a strong identity rooted in internet culture, and by drumming up some lighthearted publicity, Dogecoin has succeeded in becoming part of the language of social media — which is integral to the success of any crypto-currency.
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- Beware of Splenda: The backlash against artificial sugars
- The secret advantages of great penmanship
- Stop making fun of philosophy and read some philosophy
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- How to be the most productive person in your office — and still get home by 5:30 p.m.
- The real lesson of the looming Martha Coakley disaster
- How to live a long life, according to science
- For Democrats, the right lesson from 2014 is to be more liberal
- How the brides of ISIS are attracting Western women
Subscribe to the Week