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Listen to Bitcoin (listentobitcoin.com)
214 points by felixweis on Mar 31, 2013 | hide | past | web | favorite | 75 comments

Beautiful :) I didn't know people were moving around such large sums. I saw a 3400 bc bubble, and a 2000+ bc bubble floating out there. I wish I was able to distinguish what was going on directly from the sounds. Those huge bubbles sounded exactly like the small ones, and when I saw 50 bubbles appear at once, that also did not sound any different than a single bubble. The amount of simultaneous sounds seems to be limited to a very low number.

Bitcoin clients usually try to diffuse coin ownership by always sending two amounts with one transaction, one (normally smaller) amount is to the receiver, the second amount is to a new address of the sender. So your coins diffuse out over tons of addresses this way, and the true number of coins transferred between individuals is much less than it appears.

It can also be extremely unhelpful, for example to this chap today on reddit:


Who didn't seem to know about return transactions and seems to have lost 90 BTC on that. (Because he/she used a "secure" live environment that would work with a temporary wallet and just one extra address with his/her money.)

The problem here is that brain wallets and paper wallets have become popular.

Brain wallets are always a terrible idea, either the pass phrase is too simple and easily cracked, or too complicated and easily forgotten.

Paper wallets are only useful for savings, if you want to spend the coins you should move the full amount.

As said elsewhere, if you use the stock client as designed, and don't use brain or paper wallets, then you should never lose coins.

The android wallet is pretty nifty.

And this mistake of trying to be ultra-secure, without understanding change addresses, is a classic way to destroy BTC. It also bit someone for 7208 BTC way back in June 2011:


That 7208 BTC would be worth about $680,000 today.

There will be a lot fewer than 21 million BTC in actual usable existence after all these errors are tallied!

Sure, but it doesn't make it any less usable for the others, it fact it increases everyone else's purchasing power

Wow I can't follow that at all! Now I'm scared to ever spend my bitcoins!

He only got into that situation because he was using the software in a non-standard way, and he inadvertently deleted the "change-wallet" that had automatically been created for him.

As long as you use the software in a relatively standard way and don't ever delete your wallet files, you'll be fine.

This. If you save all wallet.dat files on any bitcoin clients that you use for transactions, you'll be fine. Don't be scared off by someone using the bitcoin client in a non-standard, unapproved way (and as long as you use the GUI and not the command line interface, you'll not have to worry about that).

Just make sure you understand the software you are using. This mechanism isn't good for the user since you negate the efficiency of backups if your coins constantly move from older addresses to freshly created (unprotected until next backup) addresses.

Some bitcoin clients fix this by using a deterministic generation of new addresses for the wallet.

What on earth are people spending this much bitcoin on? I see a multiple $100000 transaction on my screen.

Changing between wallets doesn't mean that the money is actually changing hands.

Most of it seems to be just trade volume on MtGox, not actual transactions recorded in the blockchain.

Deposits and withdraws of Bitcoin will show, but all trades within MtGox are not recorded in the blockchain. It's just Gox moving balances between accounts.

That was exactly my point. Most of the bubbles on the screen on MtGox trades, not blockchain transactions.

He means Gox moving balances between internal Gox accounts, like hot/cold wallets. Not trades. The trades you and I make on Gox don't show on the blockchain until they're withdrawn.

Change from outgoing MtGox payments does show up in the blockchain, though, and it tends to be relatively large compared to the actual size of the payments. By design there's no reliable way to tell the difference between change and the actual payment either.

Reaping mining rewards? Cashing out on Bitcoin which they bought when it was cheap?

not possible

Care to explain why not? What stops someone who mined 10k bitcoins in 2007/8 from cashing out. If I remember correctly, there was a guy recently on #startups freenode who showed everyone a screenshot of his wallet at $800k[1] (one sec let me find it in my history) and claimed he mined them all really early.


They are definitely a handful of people who have over 10k bitcoins, but they're not storing it on an online blockchain.info wallet (which is where that screenshot is from). They're also not showing it on IRC.

That kind of screenshot can easily be produced by changing a little HTML on a 0 balance account.

Probably something to do with the Silk Road.

That's a lot of weed.

I wish I could pop these bubbles.

It says no sound in Safari, but the sound works just fine in Safari 6.0.3. No sound in Mobile Safari on iOS 6.1.3, however.

Just to note: it did say there was no sound in Safari, but it was silently edited after the comment edit/delete window on parent ended. Odd you can't even delete comments that no longer apply after the edit window.

I get sound on Mobile Safari 6.0.1.

This needs a Satoshi dice version Ka-ching sounds

edit: obviously forgot my compliment, very clever idea and cool implementation this digital art right here ladies and gentleman

also this gave me an idea: how about a Bitcoin ECG?

And a whack-whack-oomps for the losses?

Are the pitches based on something? They appear to be totally random.

There are two kinds of sounds, "celesta" for transactions and trades (e.g. http://www.listentobitcoin.com/sounds/celesta/c003.ogg) and string swells for blocks (e.g. http://www.listentobitcoin.com/sounds/swells/swell2.ogg).

Looking at the source, you are, however, correct, that the pitches are selected at random.

Very appropriate in choosing bubbles to represent bitcoins :)

I wish I could turn off the bubble sounds and just get sound for the blocks. I'd leave that on all day.

Wow, this is great! I got to see a block completed and see a 3392.80 BTC transaction go by - both got me excited enough to be amusing to those around me!

Strangely relaxing to listen to money being moved around.

What's the relationship between a sound (pitch, note, etc) and a transaction value?

after some digging around the JS, I noticed the sound is completely random except the volume which is based on the quantity of bitcoins

var maxBitcoins=1000;var minVolume=0.3;var maxVolume=0.5;var volume=bitcoins/(maxBitcoins/(maxVolume-minVolume))+minVolume;if(volume>maxVolume)volume=maxVolume;Sound.playRandomAtVolume(volume100);

If I had a child, I would open this site and it will make it sleep for sure ;). PS. Good idea!

There was 20,000 BTC transaction the other day. I wonder how it would have sounded like.

Big Ben, presumably. This is oddly soothing in an "ew, economics" kinda way. I wouldn't mind letting this run in the background for when there's no wind for my windchime.

The sound and the bubbles remind me somewhat of Electroplankton for the Nintendo DS.

Oh boy.. I was going to buy some bitcoins, but the price is creeping towards 100 USD/1 btc. That's just ridiculous.

A few weeks ago, prices were around 26 USD/1 btc... So are we going to see a swing down that low again? Or is this SilkRoad talking?

this is the effect of the scarcity of bitcoin. there's a tremendous network effect, more and more online shops accepting them as well as AFK. it allows much lower fees and risk than credit cards with their 3% plus chargebacks, up to 5-10% better margins for sellers.

You can now use bitcoin to pay for services and even fines at some municipalities, cities and what not http://www2.egovlink.com/press-release-bitcoin.cfm

You can buy things on amazon via bitspend as well as other services.

And if you still don't trust bitcoin value to not go down, you can use services like bitpay that will convert for you instantly in whichever currency you want.

There's even some VISA prepaid you can top up with bitcoin for the places that don't accept them.

And you can now use bitcoin to pay for expenses and contractors http://techcrunch.com/2013/03/27/expensify-now-offers-suppor...

And while all this happens, the USD keeps getting printed at a far superior rate.

Thanks for explaining this.

I bet loads of people are moving between wallets just to see theirs right now. :)

If people are going to do that they should consider donating a bit to his wallet (14zoTKB29NdsJRvk4qP3vB9mQZ3dcV3eWk)

It gets highlighted and is really easy to spot

Sorry! Misunderstood your comment at first :$

I like your optimism in thinking that people who use Bitcoin will fall for that...

Fall for what? It's explained right on the top of the page.

You can click the link. His address is right there... Copy paste is a hell of a thing.

Is this actually representative of all bitcoin transactions?

Original creator here, it plots all the transactions it receives from Blockchain.info. It's more or less pulling from the same recent transaction feed that you get if you go to Blockchain.info's homepage. I'd like to think this includes all transactions on the network :)

I'm surprised, the volume is much lower than I expected.

@Maximillian Try a smaller font for smaller transactions.

Nicely done.

What feed/API are you pulling from to track these changes. I've been looking for a solid way to chart bitcoin transactions and haven't been able to find one.

Check bottom left corner. I guess mtgox and blockchain streaming api.

You can see what are currency trades vs. transactions on: http://www.bitcoinmonitor.com/

Nice. Bubble size based on (log?) bitcoin size would be good. I wonder how long till bitcoin gets big enough that this sounds like techno ;p

As fiat money devalues bitcoin becomes more valuable; but it might be doomed because the central banks could easily bubble it to oblivion.

It's a pity that bubble size is unrelated to the amount of Bitcoins in transaction. Or is it related to the transaction size?

How do the sounds correspond to activity?

Deeper noise = larger amount, roughly. Larger bubble has some sort (logarithmic?) correlation to size. It's necessarily rough though.

Does this mean that a huge transaction for the right amount will hit the perfect low note, and cause everyone within earshot of listentobitcoin.com to simultaneously crap themselves?

Oh, interesting. Somewhere higher in the comments, people think the pitch is chosen at random and only the volume is controlled by the data.

I'm seeing one transaction every 30-60 seconds, which seems wrong to me.

Seems to be going fine now. I imagine the transactions are just pretty sporadic. Either that, or it momentarily lost the connection with Mt. Gox and blockchain.info.

i used to do quite a bit of sonification of stock trades. i imagine bitcoin is the thing to use these days though, since realtime stock data was a pain to get and deal with.

Needs a volume button.

Where did you get the celesta and swells sample banks from?

I wish I could pay my meal with bitcoins :)

You can, depending on your location. http://pizzaforcoins.com/

I know you were really trying to be snarky about Bitcoin, but in case you hadn't heard, you can actually do things with them. Also notable are https://wrapbootstrap.com/ and Reddit

Very nicely executed.

Just brilliant!


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