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The Open Wallet Experiment is live

26th February 14

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A few weeks ago we blogged about our recommitment to Labs experiments and our new ‘hit-and-run’ approach to experimentation. And now we’re pleased to say that our first experiment is now live, though there were, of course, some hurdles and hiccups on the way.

If you’ve been following the progress of this experiment on thinky.do you’ll know that we decided to make bitcoin the subject of our first field test. This subject came with certain technical and epistemological issues – it’s not all that easy to get hold of bitcoins even assuming you’ve understood what they are for and what you can do with them.

But we are interested in whether the very nature of cryptocurrency transactions – anonymous, underground, based on algorithmic trust rather than human relationships – leads to behaviours that can be best described as, er, shady. Or whether given the chance, perhaps the bitcoin community will prove itself as wholesome as a troop of Boy Scouts.

So we’ve set up bitcoin wallet (address and QR code below) into which anyone can make a payment.. We’re going to leave this wallet up and open until midday on sunday (assuming that all goes well!) and at the end of that time, everything in the wallet will be converted into ‘real money’ and donated to the Disaster Emergency Committee.

Wallet address - 19xnfvdAHitNErAGEhVnfkeBSTL8VVv8yV

Screen Shot 2014-02-26 at 10.52.24

But we’re also going to do something possibly very ill advised and release the key for this wallet into the wild, meaning that anyone with the wallet address (ie anyone) and the key (ie anyone!) can both donate and withdraw money to and from the wallet. No-one should try this at home!

We’ll be posting frequent stats on activity in the wallet and while we can’t identify individuals, we can identify wallet addresses. So we’ll see how many donations are coming in, how many are leaving and we’ll be able to hero addresses giving generously and identify those wallet addresses taking advantage of this open experiment.

Bitcoin wallet key - 2G6uK7QwKRPntaS7drFSUVsUf24ZVmEaK8gET2K2Uj4w

So, let’s go – the wallet is open and so is the key. We’re not sure what’s going to happen next, but we’re looking forward to finding out.

UPDATE: This post went live at 16.24 and we tweeted about it at 16.27. It took less than 30mins for the 0.01 bitcoin (just over $5) to be withdrawn by a user with the wallet address 1NYR7RF4pdc1i923qGhnkkakCqDLL9dd45. Thanks for taking part :-/

4 comments on “The Open Wallet Experiment is live”

  1. A bold experiment. It seems that the DEC are the ones who stand to lose out. What would someone think of a charity collector who leaves his collection box open on a pub bar after collecting in the High Street? I’m fairly sure “irresponsible” would replace “bold experiment”. I reckon there’d be pressure for the collector to replace the funds that went missing (if any)….

  2. Absolutely disgusting. Let’s try this again, but deposit only? See how that goes… I’ll pony up $100 to kick things off.

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