Bitcoin is a network and a technology that you can understand even without having technical coding skills. If you look at what's happening around bitcoin, then I think you can make some inferences that can help you understand that it is doing what it's supposed to do and that you will continue to be able to rely on it in the future.
The depth of information available for consumption was the framework I used to help me make the decision to go bitcoin-only. From there, I was able to learn more about how bitcoin works, how our current financial system works, and make further asset allocation decisions from there. Without having technical knowledge of how bitcoin worked, it was the bitcoin information network that convinced me that something big was happening, and I had to be part of it.
Bitcoin inspires people to write books, make movies, and talk for hours. Bitcoin media is a great place to begin your journey to understanding why bitcoin has value, and you'll find that same information network just doesn't exist elsewhere.
Running The Numbers On The Bitcoin Information Network
Back in 2017, I held multiple altcoins and thought about crypto kind of like the stock market. My vision was to hold multiple coins that I felt had logical use cases and already had a product on the market. I wanted to have a diversified portfolio of coins, and maybe if I got in early enough on one of the coins, I'd see some crazy gains like bitcoin in the early days.
Then the 2018 bear market hit, and my paper gains were down almost 90%. What the hell was I even holding? I started doing my research, and by 2020 had arrived at bitcoin maximalism. How did I get there? By doing the work.
The information I found was important, for sure, but as a n00b what I found even more helpful was that there were actually materials available to research. What I figured out is that you can't really do much research on other cryptocurrencies.
Basically, the community driven content creation surrounding bitcoin was a very powerful indicator to me that there was substance to bitcoin and no substance to anything else.
The interesting thing about bitcoin to me is that it's a multidisciplinary technology, and each bitcoiner comes to bitcoin from a different angle. There are environmentalists who tout its ability to sustainably build out green energy for the grid. There are financial advisers who recommend it as a non-correlated pristine bearer asset. There are human rights advocates who use it for the unbanked and oppressed in authoritarian regimes. There are technologists who say it's simply a more efficient way to conduct global payments.
Each person brings their own expertise to the table, and we all learn from each other.
In my opinion, the social network built on top of the technical Bitcoin network is a strong indicator of the presence of substance. It would be pretty hard to build a giant global fad full of people so gullible that they were duped into creating a vibrant ecosystem.
Assessing The Bitcoin Social Content Network Versus Other Crypto Networks
Run A Node
One of my favorite phrases coined by Matt Odell is, “If you're going to be a shitcoiner, at least be a proper shitcoiner”. What it means is that if you are going to buy some of these other coins, at least run a node and hold your own keys
What you'll find out is that for a vast number of these projects, even those two simple requests are impossible. Then, the question is, if you can't run a node and can't self custody your coins, what is the actual point of your cryptocurrency?
Go To One Meetup
Does anybody else have much to say about your project? The earliest bitcoin meetups started happening in 2010 and 2011, just 1-2 years after bitcoin launched. People were so passionate about bitcoin that they needed to meet face to face to talk about it over beers.
The point of meeting up IRL to talk about these things is that the online world of communication is different from the real world. It's easier to catch vibes IRL than it is online, and this is a good opportunity to see yourself in a mirror. Who are the other people who believe in your project?
Read Three Books
There are more than 50 books written about Bitcoin, so you would imagine that there would be some kind of literature about popular coins. You know, technical books to understand the code, cultural books to understand the impacts, or financial books to understand the investment thesis. Except that there isn't. Nobody is writing about these things because nobody gives a shit and nobody has much to say about them.
General crypto books don't count! I'm talking about specific books about specific coins.
Watch Five Hours of YouTube Videos
YouTube is easily accessible and entertaining, so you should be able to sit through five hours of content about your project. That's just an hour per night for a week.
Observe how much content is about price speculation and potential future developments, versus what's actually happening right now, and what actually works right now. A great example of this is the flash of popularity of metaverse games, where games were unplayable despite there being a “community” and of course, tokens available to purchase. 99% of games never even got past gameplay demos posted to YouTube, let alone reached their potential as an immersive gaming experience.
Listen To Ten Hours of Podcasts
The earliest bitcoin podcast I know of is Bitcoin Uncensored, which started in 2015, which is 6 years after bitcoin launched and 5 years since bitcoin had a price. If your coin has been around since 2017, that's 5 years it's existed now. Are there any dedicated podcasts about it?
One of the things I like about podcasts is that you can focus on the authenticity of people's voices, so it's very clear when people don't know what they're talking about.
The idea here is that if this is truly game changing technology, then you should be able to talk about it for more than an hour, and there should be more than just a few people who have opinions on it.
Ten hours isn't that much to commit if you are going to put a lot of money into something. That's less than an hour a day for a month.
Listening to bitcoin podcasts was extremely helpful in my journey to understanding bitcoin. One of the best bits of advice I ever received, again, from Matt Odell on his podcast Rabbit Hole Recap, was to just listen to people talk even if you don't understand it right away, and the information will slowly start to soak in. He was right.
Learning bitcoin has been like learning a language. At first, it just seems like a wall of incomprehensible words that it seems like you could never learn. As you study, you start to pick up one word here and there. Then you understand sentences in context. Then you get the meaning of a conversation. Soon enough, you can begin to ask questions about specific things you don't understand.
Eventually, you can respond creatively, with your own ideas and suddenly you are fluent.
The same is true of technology, and I went through a similar journey in bitcoin. What used to be confusing is now baseline basics. What is now confusing and “beyond me”, are things I wasn't even aware of before. It's the journey of knowledge:
- don't know what you don't know
- know what you don't know
- don't know what you know
- know what you know
Read Twenty Articles
It should be relatively easy to find 20 articles written about a revolutionary technology. If you can't find 20 people who want to write something thoughtful, even if negative, about your crypto project, then WOW, you really are early. Press releases don't count.
If you are not technical enough to understand the underlying code, you need to rely on “authorities” you trust in the space. If the authorities have nothing to say, then it's a sign that there may be nothing interesting there.
Write A Thousand words
Write 1,000 words of content about your investment thesis and see what you come up with. 1k words is a very small amount of content. A typical “blog” style article you read online about pop culture topics is about 2,000 words, so something like this wouldn't even be fit to publish online. I'm not asking you to write a book here. This is just an exercise to actually get your thoughts out in a cohesive, readable way so you can read them back to yourself.
In my experience, sometimes I have incomplete ideas floating around in my head, and it's only until after I write them down that I can make sense of what it means.
The idea here is that it's very possible that there isn't much substance behind why you want to buy your coin. NGU is fun to joke about, but it's not going to keep you warm during an extended crypto winter.
You don't have to publish it anywhere. It's just an exercise to check yourself for signs of FOMO. You can later revisit these words and see if your original investment thesis is still true.
Are We Still Early?
I guess the rebuttal to this “information network” analysis would be that in the early days of bitcoin there wasn't this much media available, so what if we are witnessing the emergence of some new and useful crypto technology and the media will evolve later?
Sure. It's possible. I never say that something is impossible because I can't predict the future. However, I think this is unlikely.
Bitcoin media did exist back in the day. A great example is bitcointalk.org. These were open discussions with real substance beyond Number Go Up. The earliest bitcoin conference was held in 201, just two years after the whitepaper. There was also a concerted effort to get online and even physical retailers to accept bitcoin.
The point is that there were normal people engaging with bitcoin in substantive ways back in the day. You could get involved in bitcoin just as a normie with an interest in digital money.
What I think most of you will find out is there simply isn't much to understand about most projects. It's a coin meant to go up in price if it's successful, and that's about it.
If you do your research and still disagree with me, that's fine, but most people aren't doing that. Most people are making bets at a casino after twenty seconds of research by glancing at the top coins by market cap and looking historical price charts.
Bitcoin Works, Even If You Don't Get It
Bitcoin is like a gigantic global company where anyone can contribute value without permission, meaning it is growing the strongest, smartest, most inclusive, most resilient, and most passionate workforce on the planet. People evangelize, build on, and use bitcoin because they feel compelled to do so. Even the people shitposting on Twitter or harassing their family at Thanksgiving dinner are building on bitcoin in the way they think benefits them the most.
Bitcoin transfers billions of dollars in value every day. It protects hundreds of billions of dollars in stored wealth. The question is not whether or not bitcoin works. The question is, when you are going to take the time to understand it? Everyone buys bitcoin at the price they deserve.
“Not understanding Bitcoin” is no longer a good enough excuse not to own any. You should understand what bitcoin is and make a conscious decision to own it or not own it.