A Systematic Approach to Learning Bitcoin
You’re trying to learn Bitcoin, but it’s not easy. Strange new words and concepts bombard you from every direction. You try to do your own research, but keep running into things you’ve never seen before. Too many sources assume you’re a complete beginner or an expert with a degree in computer science. Just when you think you’ve figured it out — you realized you didn’t get it at all.
You can become proficient at Bitcoin, but you need a system to get there. Owning Bitcoin was written for people trying to secure bitcoin they’ve already bought and for people doing their research before diving in. After reading this book, you will be able to:
- apply a powerful mental model to the most complicated Bitcoin topics;
- understand digital signatures and contracts in depth;
- know what good operational security requires you to protect and why;
- build your own cold storage system;
- avoid the most common privacy and security mistakes.
Owning Bitcoin was carefully organized around the specific needs of a non-expert audience. The only things you’ll need are high school algebra and a desire to learn. Technical terms are clearly defined and consistently used. Cross-links give ready access to previously-covered material. Hundreds of footnotes provide historical context, links to online demos, and jumping-off points for further exploration. Finally, over 300 high-resolution images help explain key concepts graphically.
Eight detailed chapters cover Bitcoin in theory and practice:
- Bitcoin from Scratch. A high-level overview of Bitcoin’s key systems.
- Authentication. In-depth exploration of Bitcoin’s digital signature system.
- Authorization. Transactions, the built-in programming language that makes them work, and contracts.
- Network. Block chain, memory pool, double spending attacks, consensus, hard/soft forks, governance, and scaling solutions.
- Privacy. The block chain is a permanent public record that allows many new kinds of investigations. Understand the risks, and don’t become a victim.
- Security. What to protect and why.
- Wallets. Practical tips for navigating the software landscape.
- Bitcoin in Practice. A complete system for buying, storing, and spending bitcoin.
Technologies that we don’t own, in the sense of understanding them, end up owning us. This is especially true with Bitcoin, where a simple mistakes can cost you large sums of money or worse. Bitcoin punishes human weakness with unforgiving mechanical impartiality, as countless unfortunate users have already discovered.
Without the knowledge and confidence to manage your own money, you may entrust it to others — the very weakness Bitcoin was created to overcome. All the while, these services gobble up financial secrets for unknown ends. Even if you have no bitcoin, ignorance of Bitcoin’s technical underpinnings makes it hard to follow new developments and spot opportunities.
At the same time, Bitcoin offers enormous potential for personal freedom to those who take the time to understand it. If this idea inspires you, but you haven’t found a way forward in your journey, Owning Bitcoin may be a useful guide.