Pictured at right is the Silk Road Covered Bridge in Bennington, VT. It’s a good visual analogy for the Silk Road website, the place some people reportedly go to buy drugs online. Because, as much as people want to make it look seductive and sexy, it really sits in a rural area with the stench of Bret Easton Ellis about it.
Silk Road, the website, is fun to write about. It’s a sexy story because, let’s face it, a lot more people would do illegal drugs if they didn’t have to buy them from some dude with a rattail in a parking lot. Adding to the appeal is Bitcoin, which is seductive to the kind of people who like to think they can just magically create a currency instead of getting an army to back it.
But it’s also important to put the Silk Road into context. They’re selling $2 million a month in drugs? $24 million or so a year. Wow, that’s… let’s look at some UN figures here… carry the two… Wowzers. That’s a whole .00001% of the entire sale of illegal drugs! Boy, is that…irrelevant!
This isn’t to say the study isn’t fascinating, because this is how nerds want to buy their dope.
Silk Road buyers are required to provide feedback on their purchases, and these reports are publicly available. This gave Cristin a handy way to track the volume of activity on the site. He reports that the volume of transactions on the site increased “from approximately 8,000 BTC/day to approximately 15,000 BTC/day, before seemingly retreating down to 11,000 BTC/day. The latter decrease is, however, an artifact of the Bitcoin sharply appreciating against all major currencies, rather than an indication of a drop in sales.”
This is how your IT guy, likely the one who tries to tell you that income taxes violate the Constitution, buys his weed. Well, if he can afford the Bitcoins. Don’t get me wrong — Silk Road is worth knowing about, and it is interesting. But we need to remember that it’s a very tiny little piece of a very big pie.
image courtesy Dougtone on Flickr