Bitcoin. Gossip.

Gossip is so compelling that we often can’t help ourselves but share the news. With or without confirmation of the truth, these stories spread like wildfire. This viral marketing mechanism, which plays on stories of power and intrigue, drives narratives in social groups.

Bitcoin’s growth, without a central authority, owes much of its success to gossip. I got into Bitcoin because a friend told me about it. Sure, I’d seen stories about Bitcoin in the news, but like most, I almost immediately dismissed it. It couldn’t work, or it wouldn’t work. But when a friend posted an offer to send his friends some Bitcoin, I received some, and I saw that it did work.

Bitcoin’s technology stack also uses a gossip protocol. This is a term given to a network communication layer that widely distributes the information at the speed we think of with office rumors. It communicates all relevant information about every transaction to every other node it can connect to. Each other node again communicates all information it has to the next nodes that it is connected to. This allows for all transactions to blanket all nodes as quickly as possible. As chains are created and destroyed, the current blocks are propagated over the nodes to reach the entire network and keep the chains in consensus. This gossip represents a never-ending search for the truth by hearing all stories but only keeping those tales corroborated by the facts.

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