New to crypto? Start here

Published: 1st September, 2022 | Last Updated: 13th June, 2024

Markos Koemtzopoulos

Markos Koemtzopoulos is the founder and main writer of ElementalCrypto. He has been a lecturer at the University of Nicosia on cryptocurrencies and DeFi and has taught two courses on crypto and blockchain technology.

If you get the main picture but still feel a little dumb when you read up on crypto and blockchains then you have come to the right place. I’ve come across plenty of intelligent people who feel too intimidated by crypto.

When I was starting out, like you, I would often come across these super complex descriptions that use long acronyms and crypto jargon. I wanted to create something that would be easy to comprehend and set aside all the rich crypto vocabulary.

Which is why I created this site and my course on crypto fundamentals.

learning crypto basics

How to read this blog

As I walk you through these articles I will try to use as simple a language as possible. When re-reading the content, you may find that I have oversimplified or repurposed some definitions in order to make comprehension easier.

As your knowledge stack gradually improves with the introduction of more concepts, I will be able to reveal more of the truth of how things really stand.

Also, there is a certain order in understanding things.

For example, you can’t really understand Ethereum unless you understand what Bitcoin is and you can’t understand Polkadot unless you understand what Ethereum is, and so on. 

If you are new to crypto I would recommend you start in the following order

1. Layer 1s.

These are base protocols such as Ethereum. The original gangsters so to speak.

2. Layer 2s

  • Once you get your head around layer 1s read up on some of the layer 2s. Layer 2s sit on top of Layer 1s and help scale the Layer 1 blockchain. You can start with this simple explanation of Polygon which is a very popular protocol for scaling Ethereum.

3. DeFi Foundations

DeFi refers to decentralized finance. It is a fascinating sector that aims to leverage layer 1 (mostly Ethereum) to build an alternative financial system that does not rely on traditional finance agents such as banks and governments. While DeFi is constantly evolving there are some foundational protocols that will help you go a long way in understanding what DeFi is all about.

  1. To start your journey on DeFi read my article where I untangle Compound, a pioneer in the DeFi lending and borrowing space.
  2. Next, learn about how decentralized exchanges work by reading my foundational tutorials on Uniswap
  3. The third big chapter in DeFi is stablecoins and MakerDAO and its DAI stablecoin. Understand how MakerDAO works.
  4. Once you’ve got both stablecoins and decentralized exchanges wrapped around your fingers read up on what Curve Finance does to merge to two concepts.
  5. Next read up on Yearn.Finance a foundational piece of the DeFi puzzle.
  6. To top it all off, you can go full-on DeFi, where I break down a complicated protocol called Olympus DAO which is thought to herald the era of DeFi 2.0.

After reading up on those 6 protocols you will be way ahead of the DeFi game. You will then have the foundations necessary to read those complicated tweets that people keep posting.

4. Gaming

  • Finally, please take a look at the Gaming and NFT category. Axies Infinity is a good introduction to gaming. Gaming is usually the easiest way to understand how all that is being developed in the crypto world has real-life applications.

Further resources beyond this blog

Courses

  • Blockchain Revolution specialization: I highly recommend this course if you are looking to understand blockchains more broadly. Run by INSEAD professors and best-selling authors, Don and Alex Tapscott, the course will widen your mind around the applications of blockchains. It also has excellent resources to understand proof of work.
  • Decentralized Finance: The Future of Finance Specialization: Taught by Duke University’s Cam Harvey this course will walk you, step by step, through the most important concepts in DeFi and some of the key protocols.

Books on crypto

crypto basics books
  1. “The Internet of Money” volumes 1, 2, 3. Fascinating read by Andreas Antonopoulos based on his talks that will give you the bigger picture. You can find pdfs online but they are also very cheap to buy.
  2. Next, check out “The Bullish Case for Crypto”. The title is a little gung ho but the person is erudite and it’s worth a read to get the big picture
  3. “Bitcoin Hard Money You Can’t F*ck With” is also a great read.
  4. If you are trying to figure things out on the trading side of things my site does not cover that. However “Crypto Trader” by Glen Goodman is very practical. I also follow Glen on Twitter and he is one of the few who does not overhype things.
  5. “The Sovereign Individual”. This one is more academic but it inspires many bitcoin and other maximalists because it accurately predicted in the 90s the rise of something similar to Bitcoin. It talks about how societies might evolve and how nation-states will dissolve.
  6. “Bitcoin Billionaires” by Ben Mezric is a fast read. It is by the guy who wrote The Social Network so you can read it in a hammock on your holiday.

Who to follow on Twitter to learn about crypto

OK, most of the discussion around anything important in crypto happens on Twitter. That’s why they call it crypto Twitter. If you are looking for trading advice you will find loads of self-proclaimed experts on your own. But for higher caliber content I recommend following

  1. @TaschaLabs. Thought leader and researcher who looks at crypto from a more macro framework
  2. @glengoodman. He does not tweet that often but when he does I pay attention. He mostly tries to identify whether we are in a downtrend or an uptrend.
  3. @lementalcrypto. And finally, there’s me. I usually post my articles there so follow me to stay up to date on crypto projects as I write about them.

I hope you found these resources useful. You can find out more about ElementaCrypto here.

Markos Koemtzopoulos is the founder and main writer of ElementalCrypto. He has been a lecturer at the University of Nicosia on cryptocurrencies and DeFi and has taught two courses on crypto and blockchain technology.

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