"intro to distributed computing" ramblings
> only the participants in the transaction participate in signing blocks.

makes some sense. both parties could sign nonsense transactions that would essentially make new money, but since there would be a ledger, the party receiving the money wouldn't want to do that because when they tried to spend more than the ledger permits no other right-behaving clients would accept their fake money.

does Bitcoin not work that way? (never read the specification for Bitcoin) I recall something about needing several clients to check the transaction or block of transactions before they're official. i guess you'd still want something like that though, otherwise every client, for every transaction would need to check virtually the whole log of transactions for every exchange. consensus on past blocks means you can say, "ok, we're good from here back, so I can accept this transaction based on my own verification from here forward". not sure about "blocks" though: seems like you would register your approval of all individual transactions until you found "enough" signatures on the set of transactions leading to the one you participate in directly.
(IDK how you "register approval" though: maybe that's just part of what's exchanged for any transaction. you give to other participants your signatures of all transactions back to that agreeable consensus point and they reciprocate if they're all good.) still there's the problem of whether the ones who sign into the consensus are "good guys" vs some cadre of baddies who all collude to make bad txns for money or lulz: I don't know how you select that quorum or size it because I don't know how you count all of the population... that's a tough one in a "public ledger".

I think the expensive part is in minting the money in the first place because, if you don't want a central entity to say what's money, then you need some way for anyone to generate it, but it can't be too easy or the money won't be worth anything, hence proof-of-work. personally, I guess I don't care much about the other decentralized alternatives: I'd rather have actual central banks backed by governments minting the money and signing it into the system. across currency systems, we can have currency exchanges like we have now with govt backed currency.

@jens @cwebber

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"intro to distributed computing" ramblings 

OTOH, since I don't care much about decentralization, an easier path to virtual money is something like @cwebber posted a little while ago about a "virtual mint", where you basically keep a secret token of value signed by the mint as an analogue of physical money. then you share that token over a secure channel to spend it, and the receiver/seller *before forking over the thing you're buying* asks the mint for a new token, using the one you gave as license to receive the new one, thus verifying and invalidating the old token to prevent double-spending.

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