Previous: Table of Contents
Preparing to go down the rabbit hole
Welcome to Crypto for Beginners. In this book, we will explore together the exciting and ever-changing world of crypto. If you are anything like me, then crypto will blow your mind. You will discover it is a bottomless rabbit hole, perhaps one that will not be fully explored in our lifetimes, certainly not by the end of this modest text. Yet, crypto is exciting, awe-inspiring, complex, and simultaneously liberating. There are also risks, many unavoidable but some of which can be sidestepped with the right approach.
This book is not done, and it likely never will be as it aims to be an evolving and comprehensive guide to understanding and navigating the world of cryptocurrency which seems to grow like the big bang on steroids. We will, however, quickly master the basics of blockchain technology, the various types of cryptocurrencies, the advantages and disadvantages of using crypto, and the potential future of this fascinating technology. By the end, you will have a solid understanding of how cryptocurrency works, how to use it, how to stay up-to-date, and how it could shape the future of the world.
At its core, this book empowers readers to decide about their futures. Cryptocurrency is an exciting, rapidly evolving space, but it can confuse and intimidate newcomers. That’s why I’ve written with the beginner in mind, breaking down complex concepts and providing real-world examples to help you navigate this exciting new landscape. Despite the intended audience, I am confident that you will quickly find your knowledge expands and I will up the pace of learning accordingly.
Crypto allows us to transact without going through a centralized third party; we can lend, borrow, and trade without signing up to a regulated institution, express our culture, and appreciate others using NFTs for music and art while maintaining ownership of our work. We can play video games, own the treasures we find throughout the game world; and maybe, just maybe, begin to fix our broken systems of money. This may seem like a far-fetched claim but by self-custody of transparently issued money instead of the out-of-control supply of government money it is a real possibility. I’ll explain why I think government money is broken in Chapter 1: Money and Chapter 2: Fiat Vs Bitcoin. Unfortunately, I will go on to explain why things might be set to get even worse in the afterword and at various appropriate points throughout.
Although crypto, cryptocurrency, and blockchain may have slightly different meanings, they are frequently used interchangeably in the rapidly evolving decentralized crypto world, which is mathematically secured. However, have you ever wondered why some are so enthusiastic about crypto while it is so heavily criticized, even mocked, and targeted by governments, mainstream media, and international organizations?
This book will explore and explain; What crypto is and how it works. Who owns and controls it? What can you do with it? How to use it and, perhaps most interesting, why they don’t want you to.
There are more than 30,000 cryptos and thousands more projects that utilize them. But, unfortunately, most of them are worthless. Some are even criminal scams or frauds. However, some enable you to transact with someone, anywhere on the planet, instantaneously, 24 hours a day, for almost nothing, without a controlling intermediary; but this is the best bit – nobody can stop you!
Some cryptos act as a decentralized, un-censorable, potential replacement for the international banking system – like Ethereum. Some cryptos enable the ownership, transfer, and sale of digital goods, like art, music, movies, and video games. Almost unbelievably, there are crypto projects already launched that plan to decentralize and replace the global mapping system, international telecommunications, and Internet connectivity.
Other crypto projects disintermediate and decentralize video, music, and movie streaming, give users back control of online identity, decentralize and replace corporate and social governance structures with DAOs, and some are building the metaverse where people can work, play and own property.
More projects want to disintermediate and rewrite the rules for cloud storage, distributed computing, and secure passwords, decentralize and bring user ownership of data to social media, move the Internet of Things onto the blockchain, and perhaps the ultimate goal; to replace the world’s reserve currency, the US dollar, with Bitcoin.
By understanding and using crypto, you can own an entire, diverse, robust portfolio, secured in your mind, untouchable by governments or foreign powers, and uncensorable by corporations. You can send money to those facing tyranny, undetected by malicious actors, bank the unbanked, and escape the rat race of ever-inflating fiat currency. You can help force governments to be responsive to democracy, behave responsibly, and above all, stop inflating away the hopes and dreams of future generations.
You could also lose your life savings or make life-changing wealth. I will try and guide you on avoiding the former but make no promises about the latter.
Every industry, government, and powerful organization on the planet faces a potential revolution by decentralization, secured by cryptography, and owned by us. It’s happening now! The only questions are, why don’t you hear a fair account of it, can they stop us, and how do you harness it for the good of your family, community, country, and the world?
Who this book is for
This book is for you if you don’t know anything about Bitcoin, cryptocurrencies, blockchain, DeFi, or NFTs. Even if you have never even heard of some of the terms. I start right at the beginning and assume zero previous knowledge. However, I will steadily take the explanations of how all this crypto stuff works and how it is connected to the “real” world deeper and wider. By the end of just the first quarter of the book, my guess is that you will know more about Bitcoin than most people who currently own Bitcoin and definitely more than 99% of the government and media in most countries. By the end, you will fully understand and be able to hold in-depth discussions on those terms I mentioned at the start of this paragraph and even have an insight into the computer code and mathematics that makes the whole thing work.
Furthermore, the book intends not to tell you to “get into” crypto and even less to tell you which crypto projects will succeed but to leave you able to watch the crypto space and make your own assessments. This book could also be for you if you have had a cursory introduction to any of the topics but want to get into the weeds and have a guided hands-on experience. This book is for anybody who wants to start fresh and get detailed without bias for or against specific projects and particularly if you want to learn by doing! At least half the content in this book is hands-on, step-by-step tutorials where you will interact with crypto and all the related technologies. It is important to point out that all the tutorials also feature numerous and detailed screenshots so you can learn from them even if you do not wish to interact with them. Often a tutorial will involve spending a few dollars on crypto tokens or blockchain fees and part of the guidance will be how to spend as little as possible. But as I said, there is no requirement to spend any money whatsoever! To see exactly what you will do and what you will learn, read the table of contents at the start.
Financial and legal warning to all readers
Before we go any further, an important warning is that nothing in this book is financial advice. Any investment can go down in value; crypto investments can go to zero in a second and often do. The author is a crypto enthusiast, not a financial advisor. If you choose to buy some crypto, you do so at your own risk. You do not need to buy any crypto to follow my tutorials, but if you choose, this book will show you how. Before investing money you are not prepared to lose, you should do your research in addition to this book. All the information in this book is about understanding how crypto works, its potential, and risks rather than about how to make money. In addition to the dangers of using and investing in cryptocurrencies, the author advises you to study the general and tax laws in your nation/state and ensure you always comply with them. Some websites, services, software, and smart contracts might not be legal in your jurisdiction.
This book is a work in progress.
I intend to keep adding to and updating this book to be a complete explanation and hands-on tutorial for all things crypto as the crypto world expands and evolves. I have made this free version of the book because I want as many people as possible to understand what is happening. If you want to help support my work you can buy the book from Amazon.
Cut the waffle and tell me about crypto.
If you want to understand why crypto is not just a random revolution but a well-thought-out and necessary one, then the first two chapters and the afterword make it clear. However, if you want to understand crypto ASAP, skip to Chapter 3: Cryptography & The Cypherpunks. If you just want to get your hands on some bitcoin without further delay then skip to Chapter 4: Using Bitcoin.
This book will try and stick to some rules about language and formatting. For example, when referring to Bitcoin, the network, or the software system, I try to use a capital B as in Bitcoin; when referring to the currency, I will try to use a lowercase b as in bitcoin; and when referring to trading for another crypto or regular currency, I will try to use the ticker symbol BTC. However, these terms are somewhat interchangeable; hopefully, the context will always be clear.
New terms will be introduced formatted like this new term. I thought green was good for introductions. On-screen text in a tutorial that might need to be clicked, will look like this on-screen text in bold. Text that you need to type will be highlighted like this text you need to type. Orange is nice as it is associated with learning.
Previous: Table of Contents