Free Bitcoin at MIT

MIT just recently gave each undergrad $100 in Bitcoin for completing a survey. The MIT Bitcoin Project, the group of students heading this initiative, plans to make MIT the global hub for business and research on Bitcoin. This marketing technique also encourages students to seek entrepreneurial activity and  some scholars believe it will have network effects. One post by William Luther, explains these network effects:

“individuals are concerned not only with the characteristics of bitcoin—how its supply is governed, ease of access, security of transactions, etc.—but also who else is accepting bitcoin. The size and composition of the bitcoin network matters. If few others are accepting bitcoin—or, more to the point, if few of one’s trading partners are accepting bitcoin—there’s little reason to accept it.”


Clearly there is merit to this reason for giving out “free” Bitcoin. Already, the bookshop at MIT accepts Bitcoin. Other apps are springing up that allow users to pay with Bitcoin as well. What is really interesting is that the MIT Bitcoin Club has a well-designed site encouraging the use of Bitcoin and events to promote it to the public. Although the ease and use-ability of the site is unsurprising based on the caliber of students that attend the university, it is interesting that a student club is going so far as to encourage usage of the Bitcoin by distributing it to students.

Politics and Perceptions

The “reality” of a political/economic system is never known to anyone, but human beings do construct elaborate beliefs about the nature of that “reality” — beliefs that are both a positive model of the way the system works and a normative model of how it should work. The belief system may be broadly held within a society; alternatively, widely disparate beliefs may be held…

The resultant path dependence typically makes change incremental. But change is continually occurring (although the rate will depend on the degree of competition among organizations and their entrepreneurs), resulting in alterations of the institutional matrix, revisions of perceptions of reality, and therefore new efforts of entrepreneurs to improve their position in a never-ending process of change. Change can also result from non-human-induced changes in the environment, such as natural disasters; but overwhelmingly it is humans themselves who incrementally alter the human landscape.

-North, Summerhill, & Weingast’s “Order Disorder, and Economic Change” 1999, 7.