Which Cryptocurrencies Are Driving Innovation? GitHub, Reddit Offer Clues

Who's getting love on GitHub?

Much more important than a given cryptocurrency’s price, many would argue, is what, specifically, the crypto or its network is being used for. Gaming like Ethereum? Sending remittances back home like Dash? Ensuring privacy like Monero? These are all use-cases that are already being tested in the real world.

The many and varied uses for not just cryptocurrencies but the technology that enables them stresses an important point: That crypto is less about replacing the literal Dollar or the literal Euro (though that’s obviously a goal for many), than it is about replacing or simplifying all of the hundreds — if not thousands — of inefficient interactions that power our economy with something better.

Instead of having banks verify that money left one account and was received by another, for example, you record these transactions on something like the Blockchain. Instead of having bookies set gaming odds on who’s going to win the World Series, you build an app on Ethereum that can do it with greater accuracy, and therefore fairness. This is what makes CoinDesk’s new data visualization tool, which let’s you visualize the crypto world using metrics like the amount of attention a given project receives from developers, so interesting.

cryptocurrency
CoinDesk's new data visualization tool for crypto gives a much, much more comprehensive assessment of a given project's impact than price. 

Think of it like CoinMarketCap — the data aggregator that’s often cited by befuddled media trying to report crypto prices — on steroids. The project lets you assess different crypto projects not only in terms of market cap or sell-prices but in terms of dedicated Reddit forums, transaction counts, and contributors on GitHub (the popular coding repository).

In short, it’s a welcome step toward giving consumers and investors a tool for assessing the merit of various crypto projects using something other than the price which, in literal terms, doesn’t really tell you all that much. The fact that a bitcoin is “worth” roughly $5,900 at the moment (according to the average on, well, CoinMarketCap) means only that the most recent people to buy bitcoin probably paid something close to that.

That doesn’t tell you anything about how close the people building mining hardware are to solving bitcoin’s energy consumption problem, or how many vendors are accepting bitcoin as payment, or even how many people are or are in the process of actually using bitcoin. It’s a picture of a tiny window in time, and a picture that’s been distorted by feverish speculation.

The data is perhaps most interesting for assessing the hundreds of altcoins that followed bitcoin and Ethereum in the name of rectifying or addressing flaws, as that’s where you start to see outliers, or projects that appear to be punching above their weight in terms of how much code is being written or what seems to be getting people talking.

EOS, an altcoin focused on cloud services that was sharply criticized at launch over the spring, per a Coindesk report at the time, is one example of an altcoin that inspires a surprising amount of developer activity. It’s garnered roughly 2,500 merged Github pull requests, the term for when a submitted change makes it into the final coding repository.

Bitcoin Cash, which for the sake of comparison has a market value of $7.5 billion compared with EOS’s $4 billion, has only 32.