A funny thing just happened: virtual currency bitcoin has now passed the first round of approval required to become a standard for the web, alongside other familiar “schemes” which allow elements on a webpage to, for example, open your email application when you click on an email address on a webpage. This is the first time a payment system has ever been legitimized in this way.
The web—and more specifically HTML5, the language which web browsers understand—works because everyone who makes websites and builds web browsers has agreed on a common standard. It’s just like a regular language—if I say “chair” and you think “pants,” we have a problem. The same goes for the grammar in which vocabulary is embedded.
One piece of the language of HTML5 is “schemes,” which allow websites or apps to designate themselves as the “handler” of the content located at a particular address on the internet. These schemes include, as I noted, one called “mailto:” that, when used as a link in a webpage, tells your browser to automatically email an address after you click on it, by whatever means you have previously specified.