Journal Entry: March 11, 2024/Lesson 11: Altcoins

Journal Entry

Altcoins: The Utility and Diversity of Alternative Cryptocurrencies

Thanks to help from my mentor, I’ve been learning a great deal about the digital economy, especially about blockchain and cryptocurrency. It’s our hope that regardless of what challenges the prison system presents, people in our audience will always use time to prepare for the digital economy. This strategy of continuous learning and finding mentors empowered me through 26 years in prison, and I’m confident that it can help others, too.

Besides building a portfolio that would include Bitcoin, I was motivated by Ryan’s early investment into FTT, a token built on the Ethereum blockchain. Before going into those more speculative investments, I would need to learn more about altcoins, and in these lessons, I’ll share what I’m learning.


While Bitcoin pioneered the digital currency landscape, a multitude of alternative coins, or “altcoins,” have emerged, each offering unique functionalities, innovations, and solutions to the limitations of Bitcoin. This lesson will explore the diverse world of altcoins, highlighting their enhanced utility, specific functions, and the roles they play in expanding the blockchain ecosystem.

The Purpose of Altcoins

Developers created altcoins as alternatives to Bitcoin. They could become platforms and tokens that offer enhanced features, including improved scalability, privacy, security, and more. Like the token FTT, which we wrote about in previous lessons, altcoins served specific functions and addressed various challenges within the cryptocurrency space. For example, altcoins offered transaction speed, smart contract capabilities, and decentralized finance (DeFi) applications.

A speculative market existed for each of these coins. Below, I’ll describe some of the more notable coins. Once I understand more about each coin, as I’ll describe in the lessons, I’ll write about my purchase. For now, I’ll input the price of each coin as I write this lesson, On Tuesday morning, February 20, 2024. That way, we’ll have a reference point when I begin to make more speculative purchases. 

With any investment, it’s important to remember that an asset was only truly worth what the next person would be willing to pay for it. Those prices fluctuated over time. With cryptocurrencies, investors should expect volatility. For that reason, people should begin with an investment strategy that includes an acceptable percentage of net worth–with an understanding that values could drop to zero. The prices quoted come from my account on Coinbase on 2/20/24 at 3:46 am, when I was writing this lesson. At this time, Bitcoin was trading at $52,336.49–which was the highest price since I began acquiring cryptocurrencies, on January 31, 2024, when the coins traded at $44,843.95.

Binance Coin (BNB)—$358.08

Initially launched as a utility token for the Binance exchange, BNB has expanded its use cases to include transaction fee discounts, participation in token sales, and more.

Cardano (ADA)—$0.63

With a strong emphasis on security and sustainability, Cardano introduces a proof-of-stake blockchain, aiming for scalability and interoperability in the DeFi ecosystem.

Chainlink (LINK)—$19.61

A decentralized oracle network that bridges the gap between smart contracts and real-world data, enabling smart contracts to interact with external information.

Cosmos (ATOM)—$10.52

Like Polkadot, ATOM focuses on interoperability, enabling different blockchains to communicate and share information seamlessly.

Dogecoin (DOGE)—$0.0874

Originally created as a joke, thanks to support from Elon Musk, Dogecoin has garnered a massive following and is used for tipping and charitable donations, showcasing the community aspect of cryptocurrencies.

Ethereum (ETH)—$2,932.28

Pioneering smart contracts and DApps, Ethereum has established itself as a foundational platform for DeFi projects and NFTs, offering a wide range of applications beyond simple transactions.

Litecoin (LTC)—$70.57

Introduced as the “silver to Bitcoin’s gold,” Litecoin offers faster transaction times and a higher total supply, aiming to be more practical for everyday transactions.

Monero (XMR)—$119.35

Prioritizing privacy, these cryptocurrencies offer enhanced anonymity features, making transactions untraceable.

Polkadot (DOT)—$7.83

Focuses on interoperability, enabling different blockchains to communicate and share information seamlessly.

Ripple (XRP)—$0.57

Focused on revolutionizing cross-border payments, Ripple aims to make international transactions faster, more secure, and less costly.

Solana (SOL)—$110.24

Known for its incredible speed and scalability, Solana supports thousands of transactions per second at a lower cost, making it an attractive platform for building fast and efficient DApps.

Zcash (ZEC)—$25.32

As with Monero, Zcash is a cryptocurrency that puts an enhanced emphasis  on anonymity features, making transactions untraceable.

There are many other altcoins and tokens available. In upcoming lessons, we’ll continue to elaborate on these digital assets with hopes of helping people learn more about the digital economy.

Why Altcoins Matter

Altcoins contribute significantly to the innovation and evolution of the cryptocurrency world and the digital economy. They experiment with new technologies, governance models, and use cases, pushing the boundaries of what’s possible within the blockchain ecosystem. For users, developers, and investors, altcoins provide a landscape rich with opportunities for exploration, investment, and development.

Looking Ahead

As we journey further into the altcoin universe in upcoming lessons, we’ll explore each of these cryptocurrencies in detail, uncovering the technology behind them, their use cases, and their potential to reshape the future of finance, governance, and digital interaction.

In the next lesson, we’ll discuss Binance Coin (BNB) in more detail.


I am holding onto the four Bitcoins in my account, pausing my purchasing while we move closer to the halving. On Tuesday, February 20, 2024, at 4:01 am Pacific time, the price of Bitcoin settled at $52,301.06.

  • Total investment in BTC at end of day, February 19, 2024: $192,202.76.
  • Total holdings: 4 BTC
  • Total value: $209,206.40
  • Gain or Loss: $17,003.64

The value of my holdings surpassed the total amount that I had paid by $17,003.64 since I began investing in cryptocurrency, on January 31, 2024.

For full transparency, I am not an investment advisor. Our nonprofit, Prison Professors, offers these lessons for the singular purpose of helping people learn more about the digital economy. I provide information on my personal investments to show that even a person who served 26 years can participate in the digital economy. I am an investor and a speculator, understanding the risks. No one should invest in any asset class without a strategy and a plan, as shown through our introductory course: Preparing for Success after Prison. Always develop an  understanding of investment risks—especially with cryptocurrency.

Critical Thinking Questions:

  1. How do the specific features and utilities of altcoins influence their adoption and integration into the broader digital economy?
  2. Considering the diverse functionalities of altcoins, how can they complement Bitcoin in creating a more inclusive and efficient blockchain ecosystem?
  3. What role do altcoins like Solana and Dogecoin play in demonstrating the versatility and community aspects of cryptocurrencies?

Advocacy Initiative:

Please share your story and responses through the manner that works best for you:

  1. Send through email to
    1. Subject line: Digital Economy Course
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Prison Professors

℅ Digital Economy Course

32565 Golden Lantern, Suite B-1026

Dana Point, CA 92629

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Prison Professors

℅ Digital Economy Course

32565 Golden Lantern, Suite B-1026

Dana Point, CA 92629

Three most recent lessons sequences:

  • Lesson 10: NFT Development
  • Lesson 11: Intro to Altcoins
  • Lesson 12: Binance (BNB)