Latoken (starbitcoin white paperting from September 25);
In recent years, the Carl-Strehl-School has started accepting a limited number of sighted children, who learn alongside their blind classmates using multisensory materials, which in their case also incorporate sight. Research has shown that children and adults learn better when they can grasp new information with multiple senses, and not just visually. Mahnke says in his own experience, "multi-sensory experiences lead to much deeper and longer-lasting learning".tron coin halvingFor Portz, it was not just the school that broadened his world. He fondly recalls moving around Marburg with confidence, assisted by beeping traffic lights, talking bus stops, and a sighted population very used to interacting with the blind. Bus drivers in Marburg are trained to stop to give blind passengers easy access, shop assistants routinely deal with blind customers, and many restaurants offer menus in Braille script. He's encountered some of these elements in other cities, but never in the form of such a comprehensive web.
"In Marburg, all these individual elements are very well-connected, and there are few gaps," he says. "It's also the mentality in Marburg. There's the Blista, and many stay on to study at the university, so there are many blind people, and every institution is confronted with that, sooner or later."Uwe Boysen is a retired blind judge and former president of Germany's association of blind and visually impaired students and professionals, the DVBS, which was founded in Marburg. He attended the Carl-Strehl-School and then studied law in Marburg in the late 1960s. In his opinion, the sense of community and self-help that has evolved in Marburg plays a crucial part in sparking innovation: "It gives you courage, it makes you dare to try out new things."That self-help spirit shaped Boysen's own educational path. Professional opportunities for blind people were more limited when he was a student, though he estimates there were about the same number of blind judges in Germany as there are today, over 100, also because of the war blind. He and his blind peers invented many aids on the fly, swapping recorded tapes of their textbooks, and later, using their legal skills to campaign for more rights.Bahaddin Batmaz, a blind software developer and accessibility trainer in Marburg, argues that many of its accessible features hold important lessons for innovation as a whole. One is that good design benefits everyone. He gives the example of the talking bus stops, which announce the next bus and its destination when a button is pressed. In his experience, many sighted people find this function convenient, too. Similarly, when he makes a website more accessible to screen readers, its search ranking usually jumps as well, because the underlying technology is the same."Linking together technological innovations, and the human and social factor, is hugely beneficial," he says. "If you're not constantly wondering how to cross the road, you're less stressed. You're not already totally overwhelmed by this stupid road, and then you're also more open for innovation, and more accepting of others."
Dago Schelin, a sighted filmmaker and media studies researcher at the Philipps University, comes to a similar conclusion in a case study of Marburg as a model for inclusive innovation. He and his co-authors describe it as a "smart city for the blind", and argue that "Marburg appears to specialise in an alternative mode of smartness". Instead of revolving around digital technologies, this type of smartness is more human-oriented. It centres on supportive interactions between differently abled people, and on accessible institutions. Schelin and his co-authors suggest that Marburg might become "a reference for prospective smart cities", with accessibility perhaps becoming "one of the criteria for a city's smartness status."Schelin, who is from Brazil, experienced this innovation-boosting effect himself when he moved to Marburg in 2014. He met blind people interested in filmmaking, and developed multisensory methods for teaching them. "It strengthened my notion that filmmaking is a community effort," he says.Reviewed by JULIUS MANSA
TABLE OF CONTENTSEXPANDWhat Are Cryptocurrencies?Ethereum (ETH)
Litecoin (LTC)Cardano (ADA)
Polkadot (DOT)Bitcoin Cash (BCH)Stellar (XLM)Chainlink
Binance Coin (BNB)Tether (USDT)Monero (XMR)Why are cryptocurrencies important?
Why are there so many cryptocurrencies?What are some other important cryptocurrencies?
Why is Bitcoin still the most important cryptocurrency?Bitcoin has not only been just a trendsetter, ushering in a wave of cryptocurrencies built on a decentralized peer-to-peer network, but also has become the de facto standard for cryptocurrencies, inspiring an ever-growing legion of followers and spinoffs.
KEY TAKEAWAYSA cryptocurrency, broadly defined, is are a form of digital token or “coins” that exist on a distributed and decentralized ledger called a blockchain.Beyond that, the field of cryptocurrencies has expanded dramatically since Bitcoin was launched over a decade ago, and the next great digital token may be released tomorrow.Bitcoin continues to lead the pack of cryptocurrencies in terms of market capitalization, user base, and popularity.Other virtual currencies such as Ethereum are being used to create decentralized financial systems for those without access to traditional financial products.Some altcoins are being endorsed as they have newer features than Bitcoin, such as the ability to handle more transactions per second or use different consensus algorithms like proof-of-stake.
What Are Cryptocurrencies?Before we take a closer look at some of these alternatives to Bitcoin, let’s step back and briefly examine what we mean by terms like cryptocurrency and altcoin. A cryptocurrency, broadly defined, is virtual or digital money that takes the form of tokens or “coins.” While some cryptocurrencies have ventured into the physical world with credit cards or other projects, the large majority remain entirely intangible.
The “crypto” in cryptocurrencies refers to complicated cryptography that allows for the creation and processing of digital currencies and their transactions across decentralized systems. Alongside this important “crypto” feature of these currencies is a common commitment to decentralization; cryptocurrencies are typically developed as code by teams who build in mechanisms for issuance (often, although not always, through a process called “mining”) and other controls.Cryptocurrencies are almost always designed to be free from government manipulation and control, although as they have grown more popular, this foundational aspect of the industry has come under fire. The cryptocurrencies modeled after Bitcoin are collectively called altcoins, and in some cases “shitcoins,” and have often tried to present themselves as modified or improved versions of Bitcoin. While some of these currencies may have some impressive features that Bitcoin does not, matching the level of security that Bitcoin’s networks achieve largely has yet to be seen by an altcoin.
Below, we’ll examine some of the most important digital currencies other than Bitcoin. First, though, a caveat: It is impossible for a list like this to be entirely comprehensive. One reason for this is the fact that there are more than 6,500 cryptocurrencies in existence as of September 2021.1 While many of these cryptos have little to no following or trading volume, some enjoy immense popularity among dedicated communities of backers and investors.Beyond that, the field of cryptocurrencies is always expanding, and the next great digital token may be released tomorrow. While Bitcoin is widely seen as a pioneer in the world of cryptocurrencies, analysts adopt many approaches for evaluating tokens other than BTC. It’s common, for instance, for analysts to attribute a great deal of importance to ranking coins relative to one another in terms of market capitalization. We’ve factored this into our consideration, but there are other reasons why a digital token may be included in the list as well.
1. Ethereum (ETH)The first Bitcoin alternative on our list, Ethereum is a decentralized software platform that enables smart contracts and decentralized applications (dapps) to be built and run without any downtime, fraud, control, or interference from a third party. The goal behind Ethereum is to create a decentralized suite of financial products that anyone in the world can freely access, regardless of nationality, ethnicity, or faith.2 This aspect makes the implications for those in some countries more compelling, as those without state infrastructure and state identifications can get access to bank accounts, loans, insurance, or a variety of other financial products.The applications on Ethereum are run on ether, its platform-specific cryptographic token. Ether is like a vehicle for moving around on the Ethereum platform and is sought mostly by developers looking to develop and run applications inside Ethereum, or now, by investors looking to make purchases of other digital currencies using ether. Ether, launched in 2015, is currently the second-largest digital currency by market capitalization after Bitcoin, although it lags behind the dominant cryptocurrency by a significant margin.3 Trading at around $3,600 per ETH as of September 2021, ether’s market cap is roughly half that of Bitcoin’s.In 2014, Ethereum launched a presale for ether, which received an overwhelming response; this helped to usher in the age of the initial coin offering (ICO). According to Ethereum, it can be used to “codify, decentralize, secure and trade just about anything.”4 Following the attack on the decentralized autonomous organization (DAO) in 2016, Ethereum was split into Ethereum (ETH) and Ethereum Classic (ETC).
In 2021, Ethereum transitioned its consensus algorithm from proof-of-work (PoW) to proof-of-stake (PoS).5 This move is intended to allow Ethereum’s network to run itself with far less energy and improved transaction speed as well as to make for a more deflationary economic environment. Proof-of-stake allows network participants to “stake” their ether to the network. This process helps to secure the network and process the transactions that occur. Those who do this are rewarded ether, similar to an interest account. This is an alternative to Bitcoin’s proof-of-work mechanism, where miners are rewarded more Bitcoin for processing transactions.2. Litecoin (LTC)
Litecoin, launched in 2011, was among the first cryptocurrencies to follow in the footsteps of Bitcoin and has often been referred to as “silver to Bitcoin’s gold.”6 It was created by Charlie Lee, an MIT graduate, and former Google engineer.Litecoin is based on an open-source global payment network that is not controlled by any central authority and uses “scrypt” as a proof of work, which can be decoded with the help of consumer-grade CPUs. Although Litecoin is like Bitcoin in many ways, it has a faster block generation rate and hence offers a faster transaction confirmation time. Other than developers, there are a growing number of merchants that accept Litecoin. As of September 2021, Litecoin has a market capitalization of $4 billion and a per-token value of around $190, making it the sixteenth-largest cryptocurrency in the world.7
3. Cardano (ADA)Cardano is an “Ouroboros proof-of-stake” cryptocurrency that was created with a research-based approach by engineers, mathematicians, and cryptography experts.8 The project was co-founded by Charles Hoskinson, one of the five initial founding members of Ethereum. After having some disagreements with the direction Ethereum was taking, he left and later helped to create Cardano.
The team behind Cardano created its blockchain through extensive experimentation and peer-reviewed research. The researchers behind the project have written over 90 papers on blockchain technology across a range of topics.9 This research is the backbone of Cardano.Due to this rigorous process, Cardano seems to stand out among its proof-of-stake peers as well as other large cryptocurrencies. Cardano has also been dubbed the “Ethereum killer,” as its blockchain is said to be capable of more.10 That said, Cardano is still in its early stages. While it has beaten Ethereum to the proof-of-stake consensus model, it still has a long way to go in terms of decentralized financial applications.Cardano aims to be the world’s financial operating system by establishing decentralized financial products similar to Ethereum as well as providing solutions for chain interoperability, voter fraud, and legal contract tracing, among other things. As of September 2021, Cardano has the third-largest market capitalization oat $71 billion and one ADA trades for around $2.50.114. Polkadot (DOT)
Polkadot is a unique proof-of-stake cryptocurrency that is aimed at delivering interoperability among other blockchains. Its protocol is designed to connect permissioned and permission-less blockchains, as well as oracles, to allow systems to work together under one roof. Polkadot’s core component is its relay chain that allows the interoperability of varying networks. It also allows for “parachains,” or parallel blockchains with their own native tokens for specific-use cases.12Where Polkadot differs from Ethereum is that rather than creating just decentralized applications on Polkadot, developers can create their own blockchain while also using the security that Polkadot’s chain already has. With Ethereum, developers can create new blockchains but need to create their own security measures, which can leave new and smaller projects open to attack, as the larger a blockchain, the more security it has. This concept in Polkadot is known as shared security.
Polkadot was created by Gavin Wood, another member of the core founders of the Ethereum project who had differing opinions on the project’s future. As of September 2021, Polkadot has a market capitalization of roughly $35 billion and one DOT trades for $35.25.135. Bitcoin Cash (BCH)
Bitcoin Cash (BCH) holds an important place in the history of altcoins because it is one of the earliest and most successful hard forks of the original Bitcoin. In the cryptocurrency world, a fork takes place as the result of debates and arguments between developers and miners. Due to the decentralized nature of digital currencies, wholesale changes to the code underlying the token or coin at hand must be made due to general consensus; the mechanism for this process varies according to the particular cryptocurrency.When different factions can’t agree, sometimes the digital currency is split, with the original chain remaining true to its original code and the new chain beginning life as a new version of the prior coin, complete with changes to its code.