After an eventful last year, 2014 is starting with more debate and conversations around Bitcoin.
It is often said that understanding Bitcoin is too technical for the average user (and at core it is, for a good summary of Bitcoin, this things the following is one of my favorite posts : http://brokenlibrarian.org/bitcoin/ ), but understanding Bitcoin advocates might be an easier tasks. In my view they split among 3 categories:
> The Libertarian: he is most likely an early Bitcoin supporter. As mentioned by the ECB, his economic background comes from the Austrian school , they see in Bitcoin a competitive currency with the main advantage of not being linked to any State. Often a goldbug as well, he considers the limit of 21 million (or so) Bitcoins an important advantage as well. The deflationary nature of Bitcoin is an asset.
How to spot him: look for mentions of Hayek, fiat currency, algorithmic currency
> The Speculator: he bought Bitcoin at X and now it is at Y. Will share any rumours mentioning a high Bitcoin price. Bitcoin the new currency in China: share. Bitcoin coming from Alpha Centauri (thanks @azeem): share. He is a Libertarian when needed and a Protocolist as well.
How to spot him: look for retweets of Bitcoin going to $1M posts
> The Protocolist: often a techie, he sees Bitcoin as the equivalent of the internet protocol for payment or even further as a distributed ledger for all contractual agreement between a number of parties. Notably, the much lower transaction fee on the Bitcoin network appears as a great alternative to the 2.x% of credit card networks.
How to spot him: look for mentions of interchange, remittance and http for payment.
In truth the distinction is not that clear and most people interested in Bitcoin are a blend of various proportions of these different types (and most likely different at different times).
There is also a Fourth category, one that does not have so much public exposure and that would be interesting to know more about:
> The Consumer: I am talking about the Chinese investor that use Bitcoin for Tax/Currency evasion. The underground population that transacts with Bitcoin. But also the buyer on Overstock.com, Zynga or other more mainstream ecommerce sites. Maybe the best way to start is to look for technical services providers such as hosting, etc. Because it is difficult to isolate commerce from other flows, the actual volume is tough to estimate at the moment. If you have bought (as more than an experiment) services and products using Bitcoin, I would love to hear your feedback.