In these dancers of Saint John and Saint Vitus we can recognize the Bacchic choruses of the Greeks

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Bitcoin itself may not flourish as a currency, but the underlying technology is beginning to suggest valuable new applications. […]

For example, Namecoin is a system used to create and exchange domain names: the coins contain information about the domain names themselves. Recall that the domain name market has about $3 billion in revenue per year: it’s a good example of a weird, scarce digital resource. And Bitmessage is a Bitcoin-inspired messaging platform that allows for anonymous (or at least pseudonymous) communication. What Namecoin and Bitmessage share is that they allow data to be added to the transaction, making the exchange one not just of perceived value but also of information.

Or take digital art. Larry Smith, a partner at the business architecture consultancy The matix and an analyst with long experience in digital advertising and digital finance, asks us to “imagine digital items that can’t be reproduced.” If we attached a coin identifier to a digital image, Smith says, “we could now call that a unique, one-of-a-kind digital entity.” Media on the Internet—where unlimited copying and sharing has become a scourge to rights holders—would suddenly be provably unique, permanently identified, and attached to an unambiguous monetary value.

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