Last year I started researching something new (to me). Bitcoin is a decentralized P2P system for transferring value across the Internet. The most interesting part of this technology is the consensus-based ledger that records and verifies transactions and remembers them forever. The blockchain is, perhaps, one of the most significant advancement in technology of the past 25 years. There is no way this technology will not forever change every bit of transactional system we now rely on. Making coins, or digital currency, is only a small application of the technology.
In 1991, when I first got onto connected networks (BBS and FidoNet), I saw a similar opportunity and started devoting a lot of my time to learning what I could do with them. At first I welcomed this opportunity to network with people all over the world. I previously did this by writing snail mail letters to my international penpals (1983-1990). While I grew up in a very mysogynistic household, I found acceptance and friendship amongst people from all over the world. The world of BBS and the early Internet was open to anyone and nobody made a fuss about who you were and what you looked like.
When I got my first corporate gig, I sat in a hallway at a makeshift desk in the UNESCO office in Quebec City. I remember being introduced to the mayors of various historical cities as the ‘Internet Girl’. At the time (1995), I worked on a 2000-page encyclopaedia website in English, French, Spanish, Portuguese and Arabic, the 5 official languages of the OWHC. It was fun, educational and fascinating, and, perhaps, the only job I have ever had that fit with my college education in Tourism. I also got to work on novel technologies through my personal projects like search and SEO.
Eventually, I joined Webgrrls and became director of my local chapter, after I helped the former emigrate to Silicon Valley. For two years, I got to hang out with awesome women users and workers of the Internet economy. I got to be the face of the Web in countless newspaper articles and television interviews. Then, around 2001, after I had my daughter, I stepped away… I went on to develop my second, third and fourth start-ups.
When Web 2.0 happened, everything changed. The Web, which was previously used by technologists, became overrun by everybody else. What used to feel like a meritocracy became a popularity contest based on visual communication rather than text communications. Again, I updated my skills and built my fifth start-up, a B2B service for Agencies which was happily used by all my previous clients and colleagues, and, no one else… At the same time, I realized that, as a woman, it was very hard to communicate online because our words are secondary to our image. I am still wondering, should I build a start-up as a man? It’s not as if I have ever pitched or sought out funding. So if I finished one of my many unpublished prototypes and slapped a random guy name on it, I could gather kudos and/or feedback untainted by other’s opinions of what I should be thinking or doing because I am a woman!
When I was crushed between two cars in 2004, I was working as a project manager on Brystol Myers Squibb advanced disease learning programs. There was no way I was going to take a day off. To this day, working at I.C.Axon/Medcases was the most interesting and challenging job I have ever had. It took me about three years to become completely handicapped by the pain but I soldiered on and developed inexpensive ways to keep my brain occupied and overcome the pain. As I write this today, I have overcome my phisical challenges but I am completely broke from 10 years of never making enough money each month to pay the basic expenses of my life. However, I have also stopped living with every single staple of modern life and am no longer a consumer. I do not even have a phone anymore. I live in a small toad hole of a basement apartment and have 2 dependants. Almost everything I own that I love is for sale in my Etsy store. Yet, every month, I lose something because I do not have enough money to live. Some months it could be something as stupid as a beloved domain name, other months it could be my cat because I cannot afford to take him to the vet. I have nursed my cat at home through grave illnesses and even being shot. Last month, I was certain that I was going to lose my beloved cat. It was very stressful.
I am extremely privileged that I can build or fix anything, on the Web or in real life. My spouse is also an aspie polymath so we’ve got everything covered! It is also fortunate that my family is happy regardless of the fact that we have no money. In essence I have never been so happy and inspired in my entire life. But I am also about to lose the very few things that I have left. In a few weeks, my power will get shut off. Living without power is very time consuming. It will make it harder to move my projects forward. In two months, I will become homeless and lose my daughter who will have to go live with her dad. I am used to shuffling resources to invent dinner without money, I am used to being 3 months away from homelessness but my love of Bitcoin seems to be accelerating my family’s doom exponentially.
Yet, despite this I continue to look for work everyday. The only difference is that I am now looking for work in Bitcoin. So far my experience of Bitcoin has been rather sad. I received my first Bitcoin paycheck a few months ago and promptly lost 30% of it due to the dip. I was then almost unable to extract it from Vault of Satoshi because they stopped sending out checks. I was able to pay for my membership to Bitcoin Alliance and Bitcoin Foundation at least. I now find myself unable to accept Bitcoins again because CAVirtex will not accept my passport and provincial health card (with photo) as a proof of identity for their upcoming ATM card program.
For a few months, I have been developing business relationships with people in Bitcoin. As with any of the communities I have joined and thrived in the past 25 years, I am paying my dues in Bitcoin by doing some volounteer work. I cannot afford it but I do my best. I have started submitting t-shirts to Satoshi Style. I have pitched 4-5 ideas to people at Bitcoin Expo. I have built the only Canadian website in French about cryptocurrency. I also podcast in English. I am working hard to bring ‘The Rise and Rise of Bitcoin‘ to a Montreal audience. I report bugs on Websites for bug bounties or fun. I apply to jobs on Coinality and Twitter. I am publishing my project ideas in order to raise some money to grow my new business and push my projects further. But I am also a woman and sometimes that’s just too distracting it seems.
I am simply looking for a job that will occupy 20-25 hours of my week and pay me enough money to keep the lights on, stay housed and afford to continue my education in Bitcoin. If you do not have any specific problems to fix or projects to build, you can help me by donating some crypto or money on my Circonference fundraising page. This is what I do when I am broke, without a boss, without catered lunches, a salary or luxuries like gadgets or fancy clothes. Imagine what I could do if I wasn’t shuffling resources to avoid becoming homeless all the time!