By Dan Kervick
The Bitcoin phenomenon has always been an interesting concoction: part radical libertarian currency scheme inspired by the anti-government monetary musings of Ron Paul and Austrian school of economics; part black market drug exchange empowered by a hackertopian computer architecture providing anonymity to its aliased participants; and part speculative Ponzi-scheme-in-the-making based on a strange built-in deflationary coding that seems designed to make its early adopters filthy rich – if they can somehow succeed in getting enough other
suckers Bitcoin enthusiasts to buy in.
The speculative dimension of Bitcoin has sometimes crashed up against its alt-monetary aspirations in comical ways, as was noted earlier today by John Carney:
Was talking to someone with large amount of bitcoins that he isn’t spending b/c “that would be giving away money.” #tulipmania
— John Carney (@carney) October 2, 2013
But now Bitcoin has really broken bad in a whole new direction, as federal prosecutors have indicted one of the Bitcoin marketplace’s star performers for a variety of crimes, including conspiracy to commit murder. The FBI claims to have unmasked and apprehended the man behind the Bitcoin-powered online drug market Silk Road. His name is Ross William Ulbricht, and the charges are rather amazing: