This is an opinion piece by Peter Conley, Product Advocate at Vercel.
How does someone start learning about bitcoin? That’s the 21 million piece question. Learning more about Bitcoin can be confusing. There are then lots of content, content of all kinds: books, online courses, YouTube videos, podcasts, tweets, Medium articles and anything you can think of.
Just getting started can be the most daunting part. Before going down the Bitcoin rabbit hole, I had no idea what the term “market capitalization” meant, what the Federal Reserve was doing, or anything about the history of gold. I have a business administration degree from the State University of New York which taught me next to nothing about finance. And I couldn’t tell you the difference between a full node and a mining rig, yet I’ve been working in the tech industry since 2014.
So where did I start? Did I immediately buy “The Bitcoin Standard”? Have I gone down the rabbit hole of Michael Saylor interviews? Did I pretend to understand what Nick Szabo was saying on the Tim Ferriss podcast?
I took a more personalized approach to learning more about Bitcoin. I focused on specific Bitcoin educators who taught through the lens of topics I knew (or vaguely knew) and listened to their interviews until I could understand their basic mental models and premises.
Any specific tunnel that would allow me to dig just an inch deeper into this rabbit hole, I took it. If I felt I couldn’t dive any deeper, I would seek out another educator to take me in a different direction, as long as it deepened me.
I would listen to three to 60 podcasts in a row from a particular educator, so I could drill into their teachings and analogies in my mind. From there, I was able to create a “trunk of knowledge” and then move on to other topics and sub-areas to deepen my understanding.
At the start, Anthony Pompliano was the first to be able to hang on to me. In my opinion, he is able to talk to non-technical people and get into bitcoin first principles. One of my favorite examples is his podcast interview with comedians Andrew Schulz and Akaash Singh.
When I found my footing in the history of technology – like printing, steel or weapons – I listened to Michael Saylor.
After about fifty interviews with Michael Saylor, I read “The Bitcoin Standard” by Dr. Saifedean Ammous. His book was able to frame the problem Bitcoin was trying to solve. After understanding how much of a problem fiat currency is, I could then explore further why Bitcoin is the best solution.
When I started working in web development, I was impressed by the work of Andreas Antonopoulos, especially “The Internet of Money”.
I took this approach because humans learn by analogy. If you’re a web developer trying to learn more about neuroscience, the more computer science references your teacher uses, the faster you’ll learn. If your teacher keeps drawing comparisons between the human brain and computers, you’ll absorb the material in a heartbeat. The same goes for Bitcoin or any other subject.
I don’t believe there is a single way to learn about bitcoin. I don’t think there is a single best bitcoin book. Nor is there a better bitcoin podcast. However, there are certainly ideal pieces of content based on your existing knowledge and high-level communicators that can help you understand Bitcoin faster.
Fortunately, there is not just one Bitcoin domain or educator. If you know nothing about philosophy and don’t understand 70% of what Robert Breedlove says, you’re out of luck. If you can’t write code, no need to go buy “Mastering Bitcoin”. Instead, find an educator who gives you a foothold.
Below is a short list of my favorite Bitcoin educators and the areas they teach. If you can’t understand Bitcoin, I suggest you enter an area you already know and then improve your understanding from there. What’s the worst that can happen?
Andreas Antonopoulos, the author of “The Internet Of Money” and one of the OG Bitcoin educators, teaches through the lens of computer science, the history of the Internet and Internet technology (IT).
Michael Saylor, whose public company, MicroStrategy, has billions of dollars worth of bitcoin on its balance sheet, teaches through the lens of the history of technology, energy, investing in early domain names, markets and by being (recently former) CEO of a public company.
Dr. Saifedean Ammous, the famous author of “The Bitcoin Standard”, teaches through the prism of Austrian economics.
Robert Breedlove, a successful venture capitalist, teaches primarily through the prism of philosophy and “freedom maximalism.”
Natalie Brunell, one of the most recognized journalists in the Bitcoin space, teaches through journalism and the American Dream.
Anthony Pompliano, venture capitalist, entrepreneur and media mogul, teaches through the lens of tech companies, financial markets and monetary policy.
Jason Lowery, a graduate of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, teaches through the lens of warfare, physics, history, and national defense.
Miami Mayor Francis Suarez, who was voted one of the nation’s top mayors, teaches through the lens of governance and local politics.
This is by no means an exhaustive list. I have compiled a more comprehensive list of bitcoin educators here. If you have another to add to the list, feel free to send me a message via twitter.
This is a guest post by Peter Conley. The opinions expressed are entirely their own and do not necessarily reflect those of BTC Inc. or Bitcoin Magazine.