The Big Picture Crypto Starter Kit
There are a lot of weeds to get into, but let's align on the big stuff first.
Let’s be super clear. The Weekly Average Crypto Ecosystem Market Cap is about $2 Trillion right now.
That’s big. Like really big.
Depending on how you count that might actually be bigger than the Real Estate or Utilities sectors (well mostly REITs tbh)
The doom and gloom news recently about crashes and conflict and uncertainty etc etc might hint at otherwise (and falling from $3T to $2T definitely caused some liquidations recently), but by the public facing metrics the ecosystem is still in a fascinating spot.
This one statistic alone gets me excited to laser beam onto ideas in the space.
Still Need Convincing?
Read or watch some Chris Dixon. He's a partner Andreesen Horowitz's Crypto Fund and writes prolifically on the space. He’s been advocating for Crypto to be taken seriously for about a decade now and he has very thoughtful takes especially about the 50,000 foot view. Here's some of his best notes:
And if those piqued your interest - the rest of his blog can be found here.
Now on to Some Fundamentals
What is Bitcoin?
Bitcoin (₿) is a decentralized digital currency, without a central bank or single administrator, that can be sent from user to user on the peer-to-peer bitcoin network without the need for trusted intermediaries. Bitcoin is just one of many cryptocurrencies (I prefer calling them tokens btw) and has a set of properties that make it useful as a store of value (including a finite amount of total coin supply, etc)
How does Bitcoin/Cryptocurrency work?
Bitcoin Transactions are verified by a spread out series of network nodes (computers all over the world) through cryptography (solving hard math problems or some other Proof consensus mechanism) and recorded in a public distributed ledger (think publicly viewable database) called a blockchain. Bitcoin was invented in its current form circa 2008 by an unknown person or group of people using the name Satoshi Nakamoto. The concept was originally released via a white paper (viewable here). The currency began actually being used in 2009 when its implementation was released as open-source software. If this is interesting to you at all, I recommend following along with my essay walking through the Bitcoin whitepaper to better understand how it works.
What is a Blockchain?
A decentralized, distributed, and oftentimes public, digital ledger consisting of records called blocks that is used to record transactions across many computers so that any involved block cannot be altered retroactively, without the alteration of all subsequent blocks.
Wait what is a Cryptocurrency again?
A collection of data which is designed to work as a medium of exchange wherein individual coin ownership records are stored in a ledger which is a computerized database using strong cryptography to secure transaction records, to control the creation of additional coins, and to verify the transfer of coin ownership
Ok So what’s a Wallet then?
A cryptocurrency wallet is a device, physical medium, program or a service which stores the public and/or private keys for cryptocurrency transactions.
And how are NFTs involved in all this?
A non-fungible token (NFT) is a unique and non-interchangeable unit of data stored on a digital ledger (blockchain). These are unlike cryptocurrencies which are fungible/interchangeable.
Yeah so what about this Web3 thing?
It’s a new, decentralized internet owned by the builders and users, orchestrated with tokens, rather than owned/operated by centralized monolithic corporations and governments. Check out my wtf is web3 essay for a more…aggressive treatment.
mhm. ok. and now DAOs?
An organization who’s founding principles are represented by rules encoded in a computer program that is ostensibly transparent, controlled by the organization members and not under the control of a centralized entity.
And if after all of that silliness you still want to understand how to get some of these bad boys into your own possession - read on!
Buying & Selling Cryptocurrencies (THE ABSOLUTE BASICS)
Step 1. Download Coinbase or Robinhood or Binance
Step 2. Buy some Bitcoin using your linked bank account.
Step 3. ????
Step 4. PROFIT!!! (or a lot of loss, could go either way tbh - this is not financial advice)
Ok. In some respects, it’s truly that easy to start losing your money in style.
Yet there are a ton of risks associated with the space still (as with any burgeoning ecosystem) so it’s worth operating with more than a little caution.
Things to Keep in Mind
There are still a lot of scams in Crypto.
Don't click on random links on Crypto Twitter
Don't click on random links in a cool NFT project Discord you find
Don't click on links someone DMs you in said Discord
Really just don't click on links you can't verify beforehand.
Don't connect your Metamask wallet to sites you haven't vetted
Don't store your wallet keys in a .txt file on your local machine
For that matter, get a hardware wallet so you don't need to rely on your password strength
Ledger is considered more user friendly
Trezor has slightly more longevity in the space
Still want more??
If you get through all of this and aren’t over it yet, start cranking through these articles here.
There are a lot, but if you can get through them all you'll be more informed than half of CryptoTwitter tbh.
If you start to lose some steam because it’s all so overwhelming, I feel you.
We all go through it at the start.
Here’s the narration of my own struggle if that’s motivating for you.
You’ll get through it.
I hope this added value to your day.
Please share this with someone who might find this interesting!
If you have any thoughts or questions about this essay - Let’s Chat
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