Weekly Round-Up: Our take on the hottest stories, latest tools, and other things you may have missed on the Interwebs
Top Story: Bitcoin – Currency of the Future?
As young entrepreneurs, we’re no strangers to the digital space. But how would you feel about paying for everything with digital currency? Nope, we’re not talking about one connected to your credit card, but rather Bitcoin (BTC), a digital only, free-standing currency.
Since its inception in 2009, Bitcoin has been creating or “mining” digital currencies to be used via computers and smartphones for peer-to-peer transactions. Though it has a turbulent history, Bitcoin is famous for being a decentralized internet currency, meaning that funds are transacted directly from one person to another without the use of a bank, credit union, or clearing house.
Your dreams of swimming in gold like Scrooge McDuck are no longer plausible with Bitcoin.
Because Bitcoin requires no banking authority, your account can never be frozen. Bitcoin currency can be used anywhere in the world and has few processing fees attached to it. Additionally, there is no limit to how much you can spend, how many transactions you can make, or how many times you can view your account without incurring a fee. Your Bitcoins are stored in an online wallet, providing easy access to your funds and transactions. Bitcoins can also be exchanged for fiat currency, such as USD, Euros, Yen, and more!
Sounds great, right? Not exactly. The Bitcoin Project is extremely experimental in nature and has its shortcomings. A major problem for Bitcoin is the anonymity of its users. The open-source service has vague guidelines, and is not anonymous for consumers. The safety of your funds is also a major concern as servicing apps are consistently at the hands of hackers. Bitcoin suggests backing up your wallet and not investing your savings into the system as exchange rates can plummet or skyrocket at any time, similar to the value of gold.
Bitcoin in general has no intrinsic value, and its worth is entirely dependent on their users’ willingness to use the currency. Though Bitcoin will save you banking fees, it is not an official currency, and many jurisdictions still require that you pay government taxes against their value. Furthermore, all transactions made with Bitcoin are completely irreversible.
Under the Radar: Facebook Becomes More Emotional
Finally, the update we’ve all been waiting for: Facebook lets us share our feelings with emoticons and share our behavior with emojis. Soon to appear under everyone’s status update box, a new feature that gives users a choice of 200 different emoticons and emojis that express mood and behavior to tag onto their update. The emoticon list includes standard presets like “wonderful,” “happy,” “loved,” as well as not-so-standard presets like “fresh,” “lost,” “meh,” and “guilty.” The behavior drop-down consists of various categories including drinking, watching, and eating.
Why tag a mood or behavior onto your status? Like tagging your friends and family in your photos, tagging your mood and behavior in your status update allows users and brands to connect with you more directly.
What does this mean for business? Allowing users to tag their behavior onto their status gives brands the opportunity to connect with those that are posting about their products and services. The process of curating content users are posting on Facebook about your brand is that much simpler.
What do you think of this new feature? Will you use it?
Tool of the Week: Honey Offers Up Sweet Savings
With more and more people shopping online and endless websites at their fingertips, people are faced with the ever-present fear at the checkout page of there being a better deal out there. Ecommerce startup Honey wants to help alleviate that lingering anxiety by canvasing the internet for discounts on the products users are looking at. Honey is a Chrome extension that, once downloaded, places a “Find Savings” button on the checkout page of online shops. It will search for available coupons without redirecting to another site, saving users money and hassle.
“Honey was created to solve a problem that we have all been dealing with for the past 10-15 years,” said founder Ryan Hudson in an email. “Honey is unique because of its design philosophy — the product was designed to add value when users need it most. We loved the idea of creating a shopping companion that helped you only when you needed it, which is very different than most plug-ins, which are often ever-present.”
While there are plenty of tools and services that aim to help users save money both on and offline, Honey is a great option if you’re looking to try out a new coupon clipping tool.
Have you tried others? What do you think?
Around the Hub: Marathon Madness
For anyone who has been in Boston around marathon time, you know the kind of fervor that sweeps over the city unparalleled by almost any event in the city, apart from St. Patrick’s Day. Hundreds of thousands of people are swept up into the uncontainable energy of strength, inspiration, and support. For the past 117 years, floods of people get up at the crack of dawn to participate in one of the world’s best-known road races and oldest annual marathon. Whether running or celebrating those who have chosen to run, the Boston Marathon is the spectacle of the season.
Here are some resources to help you make the most of your marathon weekend:
Travel: As you may have gathered, while streets along the marathon route will be closed to traffic on Monday, several streets in the city will be closing to traffic much earlier. For the full list of road closings, click here.
Dining: There’s only one dining option worthy of marathon weekend: carbs. Lots of it. Good thing Boston’s North End has some of the best Italian around. Even better, restaurants are offering specials sure to give you all the fuel you need to excel. Check out our list of the not-to-be-missed marathon spots.
Location: What’s the best place to watch the marathon? That depends on who you ask, but most veterans agree on the top three: Wellesley’s Scream Tunnel, Copley Square’s Finish Line, and Boston College’s Heartbreak Hill. We’ll let you decide which gets top spot. Take a look at this article if you need more convincing.
Will you get in on the Boston Marathon action this weekend?