Breaking into Blockchain – Crypto 101

Breaking into blockchain is not hard, but requires some time invested in learning about the basics. I personally started by reading white papers – namely, Ethereum, Bitcoin, Dash, and tons and tons of ICOs. Of course, if you know mathematics, polynomes and cryptography, you’re already 3-4 steps ahead of the game and can understand the probabilistic models better than everyone else.

Here’s two of the best resources when it comes to taking the first steps into blockchain – collection by A16Z, bitcoin-focused link list by James Lopp. These two alone will get you far enough to begin with. From there you’re going to branch out into the wild and discover your favorite coins/algorithms/programs, whatever you understand and makes sense for you. There’s no right or wrong at this stage, mostly trials and scams.

Since I already mentioned I’m a big fan of Ethereum, here’s a link to a collection of applications build to top of this ecosystem. Mostly wallets, trading, gambling, games, just like any early stage medium and just 240ish. The internet started like this, too. It will eventually grow beyond this. After all, you need to build the foundation, lay the piping, create the structure before you can start operating the mall. I don’t know why I chose the mall analogy, but it fits the context very well. It evolved from the street market into the steel and stone edifices we find everywhere nowadays.

You need to keep up to date and if you don’t want to get all the newsletters from Coindesk, CCN, Bitcoin Magazine etc, then it’s easier just to follow Crypto Panic. It will aggregate the best news for you, along with community signals. Sure, there’s bias, but where isn’t one? Do your own research, don’t follow the shillers or the FUD (fear uncertainty doubt) spreaders or the FOMO peddler (I won’t explain FOMO).

Ok, you did the reading, time to grab some coins. Here’s a few lists of exchanges. Do your own research and choose the ones that make sense for your needs/strategy: Crypto to Crypto exchanges (I mostly use Bittrex and Binance); Fiat to Crypto Exchanges (Coinbase and Gemini are my favs here).

Now you have the coins, but where to store them? Definitely not in exchanges, as you won’t be able to do much with them there. I use a few wallet combinations, like Scatter, Metamask (protect your private keys), MyEtherWallet, Blockchain Info, Jaxx, Coinomi and several others that are coin-specific. Make sure you check the HTTPS, the URL and bookmark your wallets. Phishing is very common.

Lastly, for those who want to dive deeper into ICOs, here’s a primer along with the Price Waterhouse Cooper new global ICO guide, hot off the press from Switzerland.

Remember, it’s still early days, so the tools will be pretty rudimentary, but as the industry matures, the tools will too. Right now we don’t know what are the best ways to do things because we don’t know what are the best things we can do yet with blockchain technology. That’s enough to excite a lot of people out there to build, test, launch, fail, learn, build, rinse and repeat.

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