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The Top 10 Cryptocurrency Resources for Non-Technical People

I first heard about Bitcoin in 2012. I didn’t “get it.”

Terms like decentralized, distributed and disintermediation piqued my interest, but I lacked the technical understanding to really understand what I was looking at.

I started reading up a bit more in 2015. However, only after a deep dive over the last few months do I feel like I’ve even to wrap my head around it.

At this point, I can say one thing for certain: It’s the most interesting technology I’ve seen in my lifetime.

The feeling I get when I read and talk about it is very much what I imagine it felt like to talk about the Internet before the World Wide Web or personal computing in the 1970’s.

At this point I’ve read a few books and maybe a couple hundred articles about cryptocurrency in one form or another so I wanted to put together a short list of resources for understanding the basics of how the technology works and what the implications are as quickly as possible for non-technical people. Basically, This is the list I wish someone sent me two months ago.

I’ve arranged this list in the rough order I would recommend reading the articles.

It starts with a high level overview of Bitcoin and the associated blockchain, getting into the basics of how it works technically, and looking at the long-term implications. It then branches into blockchains more generally, Ethereum and eventually other cryptocurrencies and “appcoins.”

I’ve also included a short excerpt of what I think the core idea is from each piece so that if you just want to skim through this article, you should be able to pick up the central concepts in cryptocurrency.

1. Why Bitcoin Matters [Article]

In 2014 Marc Andreesen, the founder of Netscape, gave a high level overview of why Bitcoin matters and why he believes that it is as important a technology as we’ve seen since the Internet and Personal Computing.

Read Why Bitcoin Matters

2. By reading this article, you’re mining bitcoins. [Article]

Now that you have a basic understanding of why Bitcoin may be important, this article explains the mining process and network architecture. It also explains some core cryptocurrency concepts like proof of work and hash functions.

Read By reading this article, you’re mining bitcoins

3. Fat Protocols [Article]

Fat Protocols is a way of thinking about how investing in cryptocurrency is different from investing in the internet.

Most financial gains from the internet came from the “fat” application layer (Google, Amazon, Facebook) as opposed to the “think” protocol layer (TCP/IP, HTTP, SMTP).

Cryptocurrency appears to work in the opposite way: a “fat” protocol layer (Bitcoin, Ethereum) is more valuable than a “thin” application layer.

Read Fat Protocols

4. The Quiet Master of Cryptocurrency [Podcast]

By Tim Ferriss, Naval Ravikant and Nick Szabo

Nick Szabo is a computer scientist, lawyer, and cryptographer best known for his research in digital contracts and cryptocurrency.

He coined the term “smart contracts” and designed Bit Gold, which is widely seen as the precursor to Bitcoin.

This conversation includes a lot of metaphors and concepts that are helpful for understanding cryptocurrency including social scalability, smart contracts, “Wet” versus “dry” code, and Quantum thought.

Listen to The Quiet Master of Cryptocurrency

Note: I did a tweetstorm summary of the podcast here

5. The Internet of Money [Book]

Andreas Antonopoulos is a Bitcoin and cyber security expert. He has been travelling around the world since Bitcoin’s inception explaining the technology and its implications.

is a “best of” collection from his talks focused on explaining why Bitcoin and cryptocurrency matters. It’s full of useful metaphors for thinking about the underlying technology and its societal implications.

Read The Internet of Money

6. The Bitcoin Whitepaper [PDF/Article]

Satoshi Nakamoto is the name used by the unknown person or persons who designed bitcoin and created its original implementation. He outlined the whole system, now worth over $40 billion, in a nine-page white paper in 2008.

Though it’s definitely techincal, I found that it was very readable once I’d read the above pieces and had a basic understanding of concepts like proof of work and hash functions.

Read The Bitcoin White Paper

7. Money, Blockchains and Social Scalability [Article]

Humans evolved to function in groups of at most 150 people, but technological innovations in the past from money to the internet have extended our ability to co-ordinate with people all over the world.

“Money, Blockchains and Social Scalability” looks at the potential for blockchain technology to extend it yet further and what that might mean for how our world and lives will be organized.

Read Money, Blockchains and Social Scalability

More Bitcoin:

Bitcoin Resources by James Lopp

Finance 898: Innovation and Cryptoventures Duke Fuqua School of Business Curriculum

8. A Beginner’s Guide to Ethereum [Article]

While Bitcoin was the original cryptocurrency, Ethereum has quickly become a major player in its own right. This article looks at the basic differences between Bitcoin and Ethereum and what sorts of possibilities Ethereum allows for that Bitcoin does not.

Read A Beginner’s Guide to Ethereum

9. Cryptocurrencies, App Coins, and Investing in Protocols [Podcast]

Once you’ve got the gist of how Bitcoin and Ethereum work, it’s time to dive into application-specific tokens for these protocols (also known as “app coins”).

Starting with a history of open source, Choksi, Dixon and Carlson-Wee dive into why we could be headed towards less centralized platforms and a web owned by users.

They also examine how to think about investing in protocols. Imagine if you could have invested in Linux, an open source protocol that has the largest installed base of all general-purpose operating systems?

Listen to Cryptocurrencies, App Coins, and Investing in Protocols

10. Ethereum Whitepaper [PDF/Article]

Finally, it’s worth taking a deeper dive into the founding document of Ethereum and it’s goal to move beyond cryptocurrency and create a decentralized internet.

Like the Bitcoin Whitepaper, there are technical elements, but I found that having gone through the resources above, I could grasp the big concepts from their original source.

Read the Ethereum White Paper

If you enjoyed this…

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Taylor Pearson

Author and entrepreneur. Into history, complexity, productivity, and blockchains. Don’t have all the answers, but happy to share what I’ve learned