Introduction To Cryptocurrency
A Cryptocurrency, Bitcoin, And Blockchain Crash Course
Let’s get back to basics. Follow this article to get everything you need to learn before investing in or trading cryptocurrencies.
Blockchain and cryptocurrencies are still in their infancy. There aren’t many industry standards, accreditations, or trust symbols. There’s no organization like the Better Business Bureau to let consumers know what sources of information are credible or not. The fragmented landscape of crypto information sources makes it difficult for retail investors to educate themselves and holds back risk-averse institutional investors from entering the market at all.
I’m working on a “Beginner Blockchain” course but until that’s complete — I decided to compile the resources that helped me when I first got into space. I hope they provide the same insight and clarity for you.
I’ve broken this up into two main sections:
- White Papers
Everything listed here is free. I genuinely believe these resources are everything you need to learn the basics and stay up to date on blockchain technology and the cryptocurrencies built on top of it.
Crypto Crash Course
Before we dive into the resources I want to clear a couple of things. I get a lot of questions about what blockchain terminology, and what the difference is between “blockchain” and “cryptocurrency”.
Blockchain is to Cryptocurrency what the Internet is to E-mail.
The term cryptocurrency is widely used to describe all blockchain projects, mostly because the first blockchain projects were meant to act solely as currencies. It wasn’t until projects like Ethereum came around that we started to see blockchain projects with different aspirations than replacing fiat money. As I said, there isn’t an industry standard or “Blockchain Bible” that defines all these terms explicitly — but this is my understanding, and as someone who lives, breathes, and eats crypto, I think I’m a halfway decent reference point.
Bitcoin is a cryptocurrency.
Bitcoin is built with blockchain technology, similar to how a car is built with a combustion engine.
There are other materials needed to build a car besides the engine, like metal. There are also other materials needed for Bitcoin to work, like computers that run as nodes.
If blockchain is the internet, then Bitcoin is PayPal.
If blockchain is the internet, then Ethereum is HTML.
If blockchain is the internet, then Monero is a VPN
Admittedly, these examples are a little over-simplified. They don’t take into account the fact that many cryptocurrencies have their own blockchains — each touting specific benefits and drawbacks. Ethereum has it’s own blockchain, for example, cryptocurrencies are either built on top of a pre-existing blockchain, or they are their own blockchain.
Bitcoin is its own blockchain.
Chainlink (LINK) is a token built on the Ethereum blockchain.
I’m sure you’re sick of examples and analogies by now so let’s get into the resources.
Whenever someone asks me how to learn about blockchain or crypto in general, I tell them the exact same thing.
- Read the Bitcoin white paper 10 times
- Read the Ethereum white paper 10 times.
There are over 1600 cryptocurrencies in existence, I’m not saying reading these white papers will make you understand all of them (half of them don’t really do anything innovative anyway). What it will do, is give you an understanding of how the underlying technology that fuels this industry works, and why it’s a game-changer.
The reason you need to read these two white papers is that they present the two great innovations born in this industry: distributed ledgers, and smart contracts.
I strongly believe that you should educate yourself on distributed ledgers and smart contracts before learning anything else in this space. Read these white papers so many times that you can explain their concepts to a 10-year-old.
Now that you understand what blockchain is and why it matters, here are some websites to help keep you up to date on the latest news and data needed to succeed in this space.
- CoinMarketCap — CoinMarketCap is the first website I go to every morning. It lists every cryptocurrency by the size of their market cap and has individual pages for each coin providing more information/helpful links to learn about them. They’re also developing an AI sentiment analysis tool and other trader resources for their upcoming dApp, Sindric.
- CoinMarketCal — CoinMarketCal is a necessity for traders and investors who value fundamentals over technical analysis. It lists all the newsworthy events happening in the industry, and users can upvote or downvote the events to represent how certain it is that the event is actually happening. This industry is so swayed by the sentiment that sometimes people will push out fake news or events to manipulate the price of a coin. CoinMarketCal decentralizes the ability to verify the validity of an event by letting the community determine it.
- Coinalyze — Coinalyze is constantly running in the background of my computer. CoinMarketCap is great for getting a birds-eye view of the crypto market, but Coinalyze goes in-depth. It lets you set alerts for price changes on certain coins (something you’ll learn is crucial once you see how volatile this market is), and also automatically scans all the cryptocurrencies listed and identifies technical analysis indicators as they arise — so you don’t have to spend hours charting on TradingView like I used to.
- CryptoPanic — CryptoPanic aggregates all the top news around blockchain and crypto into one dashboard. It pulls articles from Reddit, blogs, mainstream media outlets, and all the other little nooks and crannies of the internet. What I like about CryptoPanic, is that it employs the same consensus mechanism as CoinMarketCal — it lets its users vote on the credibility (and weight) of different news pieces.
- Reddit — Hate it or love it, Reddit is often the first place I find breaking news. It’s also what taught me about one of the most important aspects of blockchain, its’ community. Each cryptocurrency has a subreddit, some more active than others. Looking into a specific coins subreddit will give you insight into how its community feels about the token and its future — which is especially important in a market as sentiment-driven as this. Start off with these subreddits, and when you’re done, just keep going down the rabbit hole.
/r/ethtrader — speculation & news
/r/bitcoin — developments & high-level news
/r/btc — for those wishing to get an opposing view of /r/bitcoin (it’s bitcoin cash’s)
/r/ethereum — developments & high-level news
/r/cryptocurrency — speculation & news