A Survival Guide for the Blockchain N(oob)ewbie

From BUIDLing your vocab to embracing your inner noob, here’s what you need to know.

Photo by Toshi on Unsplash

So a block is “chained” to another block and on that block you can buy a virtual cat to try and make it worth millions of dollars? But then you auction that cat off for tokens so that you can spend those tokens on memes backed by a bonding curve. What on earth is a bonding curve? It all sounds a bit strange, right?

These were the thoughts that went through my brain when I first decided to get involved in the captivating industry of blockchain technology. The above questions have clearly been hyperbolised for the sake of this article, but probably reflect what some might experience when looking to get started with this new-age tech.

Let this article serve as a survival guide for anyone wanting to equip themselves adequately enough to ensure that those questions never get asked out loud. Ever. Please.

Useful Links, Courses & Community Workshops

First things first, reading and more reading is what it will take to really get up to speed with the fundamentals (“building blocks” would have been too punny). Luckily the Ethereum GitHub community came up with this incredible list of resources, catering to all levels of knowledge within the space. Although the “Introduction” section is a common place to start, as a newbie, I highly suggest that you get acquainted with the “Getting Started” section before venturing into the juicy bits. Next, I’d recommend that you jump ahead to the “Thought Pieces” section. These articles encourage you to exercise your critical thinking by highlighting the innovative thought patterns on where industry leaders are steering the future of this technology. Trust me, after reading those “Thought Pieces” you’ll feel so “woke” and “one” with Blockchain Technology despite knowing borderline zero just yet. Who knew reading could be such a thrill?

With that in mind, I’m an advocate for the cheap thrills in life; so when you can get something for free or for cheap, it’s like landing yourself in the proverbial butter. Online courses from IBM (the free course), Udemy & Coursera as well as the training sessions and workshops from Linum Labs, is a good place to solidify the foundational blockchain knowledge needed to move forward in the space. Do at least one of these courses and the rest will follow. However, understanding blockchain basics is one thing, but to fully immerse yourself within the industry is a whole different kettle of fish. Take note of the following:

  1. Medium & Twitter will probably replace your Facebook & Instagram.
  2. Blockchain lingo, memes and acronyms are just as important as the tech itself.
  3. Hanging out with folks in the space will bolster your “street-cred” tenfold.

Before you head over to the social platforms, let’s prepare you for the lingo and vast amount of acronyms you’ll most certainly come across when reading or hearing about anything related to blockchain technology. Below is a list of popular terms you should familiarize yourself with. If you’re looking for a more in-depth list of common blockchain terms, take a look at this article and this article.

Common terms you need to know :

FUD — Fear, Uncertainty, Doubt

HODL — A common term in trading cryptocurrency meaning “hold on for dear life”, originally a typo which has now popularly earned the status of a humorous backronym

BUIDL — BUIDL is a modification of HODL, which basically means “Build Useful Stuff”. The idea is that if you believe in the space, HODL’ing is not enough. To BUIDL encourages individuals to use the Smart Contract tech within blockchain to mainstream it.

Smart Contract — Terms are recorded in a computer language instead of in a legal language. Smart contracts can be automatically executed by a computing system.

dApp — A decentralized application that must be completely open-source. It must operate autonomously, and with no entity controlling the majority of its tokens.

DAO — Decentralized Autonomous Organization can be thought of as a corporation without any human involvement under the control of an incorruptible set of business rules.

FOMO — Fear of missing out

DYOR — Do your own research

ICO — Initial Coin Offering

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Twitter

With so many theories, hundreds of projects and a vast amount of visionaries, Twitter is the place where everyone can stay up-to-date with the latest news, trends, upcoming events, thought pieces and opinion threads. Whether you’re online to make your voice heard or to share your crypto memes in the keyboard warrior* spirit, Twitter is the platform to get noticed. If you haven’t done so already, get yourself a Twitter profile, get active and build your personal blockchain community online. To get you started, take note of this completely unbiased list of who to follow, noted here.

Medium

Medium is a publishing platform that blockchain enthusiasts use to vent, conceptualize and experiment with their ideas at a level that Twitter just can’t fulfill. Great publications will often explore new project updates, community initiatives, event highlights and why CryptoKitties are the best thing to happen since the Tamagotchi. Medium also integrates audiences from other social platforms (like Twitter), extends your online voice to reach a new pool of like-minded people and has some nifty engagement metrics on each published post. If writing isn’t your cup of tea, I can guarantee you that using Medium as one of your go-to reading resources is perfect for dipping your sponge-like brain into a pool of knowledge.

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Meetup.com

In the “About” page, Meetup.com states that, “Getting together with real people in real life makes powerful things happen. Side hustles become careers, ideas become movements, and chance encounters become lifelong connections. Meetup brings people together to create thriving communities”.

This cannot be more true, especially in an era where new technology is reshaping the world so rapidly. The blockchain community is really leveraging off of this notion. We’re seeing hackathons and local gatherings happening more regularly with more and more people connecting in-person in what is typically seen as a “virtual” industry. This platform allows you to create an event, seek out events of interest and provide a means to build relationships over a common cause. So simple and so effective.

Showing Face

By now, the blockchain homework is done and you’re getting rather active online OR you’ve done absolutely none of the above but would like to see how things run in-person. Either way, showing up to events and interacting with people who are already “immersed” within the space is incredibly beneficial in testing what you do/don’t know regarding the tech. Events enable you to find out more about how community members operate and collaborate within the industry. Take this opportunity to embrace your inner noob** and ask as many questions as you can. Merely engaging with people and showing that you are eager to learn will lead you to gain further knowledge around technical aspects, whilst inadvertently turning you into a blockchain evangelist before you know it.

If there’s a meetup in your area, take a friend and see what it’s all about. If there’s a webinar happening, give Netflix a break and listen in on the pressing topics and teachings being discussed. These environments allow you to ask the questions you’ve always needed answers for, and even let you experiment with using the tech in a fun and educational way. A great example of this is Loom Network’s CryptoZombies coding workshop series. (Did I mention this is free to get started on too?)

“Lowlights” to Consider

Something I want to clarify is that blockchain technology is not the same as cryptocurrency.

Yes, the two are related but are very different to a very large extent too. A good comparison that is often used is: what email is to the internet is what cryptocurrency is to blockchain. A small component of something far greater. Cryptocurrency is merely a use-case built on a set of particular functionalities to achieve a new means of exchange.

The capabilities of blockchain are arguably infinite as many components can be built on top of the underlying technology. This too, allows for clutter, noise and distractions which can make things difficult to filter at times. New abstract ideas come to life, new lingo is created daily and technological advancements are streaming in faster than a Windows 10 update crashing. So just when you thought you had a good idea of how everything works, it’s probably outdated or scrapped. This is what makes being involved in any new technology so bittersweet because you’re constantly learning and always trying to stay up to date with everything to ensure that you adapt to the potential on offer. Long story short — stay on top of your game, stay aware and know your blockchain basics to sift through the noise.

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Final Thoughts

This may be a personal experience but perhaps others can relate to this as well; you never really feel like an outsider despite being new to the whole blockchain concept. As an “outsider” joining in, your way of thinking can be seen as refreshing and your questions assimilate to what most of the world would ask anyway. You’ll more than likely find the community to be remarkably inclusive and diverse, which is an appealing characteristic for any circle of people and the reason why I, and many others, have been drawn in so effortlessly. So to that I say, good luck on your blockchain journey, noob**.

Further Resources:

The blockchain ecosystem in South Africa.

8 Best Sources to Study Blockchain Technology

WTF is The Blockchain?

Index of Best Blockchain/Crypto Learning Resources

  • * A person who behaves in an antagonistic manner in online text-based discussion media, but at the same time does not behave similarly in real life, potentially due to cowardice, introversion or shyness.
  • ** A person who is inexperienced in a particular sphere or activity, especially computing or the use of the Internet/Blockchain.