Once a Bitcoin Miner

By Ethan Lou

Once a Bitcoin Miner
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A true story. Fast-paced. Immersive. The definitive parable of everything Bitcoin, cryptocurrency, and blockchain.

There is the Bitcoin story of the headlines, but there is a more important one behind them: tangled plots sprawling like roots deep underground, entire worlds ... Read more


Overview

 

A true story. Fast-paced. Immersive. The definitive parable of everything Bitcoin, cryptocurrency, and blockchain.

There is the Bitcoin story of the headlines, but there is a more important one behind them: tangled plots sprawling like roots deep underground, entire worlds in which we are just passersby. In Once a Bitcoin Miner, journalist and author Ethan Lou takes readers on a richly told first-person narrative through the proverbial cryptocurrency Wild West. From investing in Bitcoin in university to his time writing for Reuters, and then mining the digital asset ? Lou meets the likes of the late Gerald Cotten (of QuadrigaCX) and a co-founder of Ethereum, and hangs out in North Korea with Virgil Griffith, the man later arrested for allegedly teaching blockchain to the totalitarian state.

Coming of age in the 2008 financial crisis, Lou’s generation has a natural affinity with this rebel internet money, this so-called millennial gold, created in the wake of that economic storm. At once a personal story of adventure and fortune, this book is also a work of journalistic rigor, a deep dive into this domain that everyone hears about, yet which nobody truly knows, into the lives of the fast-talkers, the exiles, the ambitious, and the daring, forging their paths in a new world harsh and unpredictable.

 

Ethan Lou

 

Ethan Lou’s Field Notes from a Pandemic was named among the CBC’s best nonfiction of 2020. Lou has written in publications such as the Guardian and the Washington Post. He is a former Reuters reporter and has served as a visiting journalist at the University of British Columbia. Lou first bought Bitcoin in 2013. He lives in Toronto.

 

Excerpt

 

It’s not easy to go to North Korea, one of the most reclusive and restrictive places in the world, but it’s also not impossible. For the blockchain conference, there was an application process, and then the forking over of €3,300, the bulk in cash upon arrival and €800 of it prepaid. The methods for prepayment: no credit cards, no easy remittances to the great Bank of North Korea, only a wire to some obscure financial institution in Estonia or a transfer of Ethereum’s Ether. I chose the latter because it’s less painful, and luckily for North Korea, Ether rose by as much as 50 percent in the following two months, resulting in a 50 percent profit from simply doing nothing. All of that perfectly shows the curious link between North Korea and cryptocurrency, which critics say threatens global stability, a connection built entirely on what that dictatorship is and its place in the world.

After paying the €800, I picked up my visa from the North Korean embassy in Beijing and had a Peking duck dinner with fellow attendees, none of whom I had met before.

The first thing one said to me was, “What made you decide to risk your life to go to North Korea?”

“Well, what about you?”

We all laughed.

“We all share a certain sort of crazy,” I said.

 

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