Bitcoin Mining: What the F is a Bitcoin?
This, the F is a Bitcoin. Keep in mind that when this was originally made, Bitcoins were worth around $6. They're currently worth $130.
In the past 15 minutes after getting around to setting up everything, I've mined about $0.05 worth (by current prices). That's just with a laptop.
Now, is this something that can make you rich? Hahaha, no. But the concept of Cryptocurrency is what is interesting here, and Bitcoin is the first real proof of that concept, with over a $US Billion already circulating.
But why would I want a crypto-whatever currency when I've got perfectly good dollars that are worth exactly as much as some group of unelected guys say they're worth?
Because the idea behind an untraceable, uncontrollable medium of exchange excites those people who believe in a little concept we used to call "freedom", and pisses off the people who either a.) want to have monetary control over others or b.) those who are so chickenshit in their own lives that they're scared of a world where there isn't centralized control over things.
Also, I read The Diamond Age and the idea of an untaxable, untraceable system of distributed currency gives me an scifianarchocapitalistlibertarian nerd boner.
How can I get involved?
Go to Bitcoin.org and read up on things; you have to be mildly non-retarded to set up a miner, and if you're chugging along on a Pentium from 1997, you're going to have a bad time. But for a few minutes of your time and brain power, you can participate in something on the absolute cutting edge of technology, even if the whole goddamn thing goes bust like so many tulip bulbs.
Besides, once you get it set up right, it just runs on its own. And those of you who have computers that are on all the time anyway, you might as well be putting them to use for something that has tangible results (instead of searching for aliens who somehow never developed digital technology).
If you do hop on this dubious bandwagon, there's a Bullshido team on btcguild.com's pool. A pool is a group of miners that share their processing to mine coins and then distribute the proceeds based on participation; a much better system for casual miners.