If you do not know about Bitcoins, you probably have two questions.
- What are Bitcoins?
- What is Bitcoin mining?
A good place to start learning about Bitcoins is the original site from 2009 which is www.Bitcoin.org . In any case Bitcoins are a peer to peer worldwide digital currency which allow payments to be made to anyone with non significant transaction fees and total security without the influence of any Government, Bank, Corporation, or Individual. Currently the market strength is about 1.5 Billion US dollars. You can view the current exchange price in US dollars on the right column.
Bitcoins have grown in exchange value in 2009 from under $1.00 usd per bitcoin to a high in $2013 of $266.00 per bitcoin. The market is volatile sometimes, but each low has been higher than the last low. Bitcoins are inflation proof as they only grow in number at a fixed rate to fill the need of growing prosperity. No wholesale printing of money to devalue your money and manipulation as in most Sovereign currency.
As mentioned, bitcoins are a peer to peer network with thousands of computers around the world running bitcoin software. All transactions are more secure than any bank and are not reversible without senders permission. No one can double spend there bitcoin value as every transaction is maintained worldwide with secure cryptology in the peer to peer network and each transaction is verified by the network. In other words, no one can or would have the motivation to allow a bitcoin to be spent if not earned or double spent as thousands of computers from hundreds of countries would have to participate in the corruption with no benefit and if you were to study the actual workings of the system you would see it is technically impossible in the the real world anyway.
Here is the important part
To maintain the system of verification of transactions from around the world and to create additional bitcoins to meet growing wealth (non-inflationary) a system of mining to do the work meets this function. It is analogous to gold mining in that there are a limited number of bitcoins that can be dug up over time and as time passes bitcoins become more rare as Gold does. All bitcoins will be found by the year 2140 and then mining will be compensated only by receiving a tiny fee for transaction verification.
Bitcoin is not a fad and can be used to send value anywhere in the world or to buy Pizza in the US or a Gift card from just about any business through Gyft.com as just one of hundreds of ways to use Bitcoin or convert Bitcoins to one of many World currencies. Millions of dollars have been spent this year alone to fund start up organizations to assist in the ongoing implementation of Bitcoin. You can do a search and watch videos and read news for the next month and barely scrape the surface of the world and life changing events going on.