Understanding cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology can be hard. Maybe this will help.
Grief, team building, creativity, these are all processes that have identifiable steps or phases. I think that the process of becoming crypto-aware has similar, maybe even analogous, phases.
And while developing stages of an emotional or growth process is historically left up to psychologists or anyone else, really, with some level of expertise, I thought, in the interest of the greater good, and in the spirit of making crypto technologies more accessible, I would take a stab at putting labels on some of the phases that I have witnessed or experienced while learning and educating about cryptocurrencies.
From not knowing to knowing, and back again
1. Disbelief/ trepidation: I find when I start talking to someone who is just becoming aware of cryptocurrencies and the underlying technologies, they view the emerging systems as fantastical. There are a couple variants to this, but usually people start comparing digital assets to fiat currencies, commodities like gold, or start calling bitcoin a company. There is a lot of scoffing at the idea that lines of computer code can hold value — or that an alternate economy is emerging where intangible digital assets can be worth such enormous sums of money. Into this void of disbelief are thrown stories about potential blockchain applications and about how cryptocurrencies are about building a digitally-native way of transacting and holding value. Things start to click, leading to…
2. Curiosity: The next phase of crypto-awareness, maybe after some research or a visit to coinmarketcap to look at insane growth charts, is a profound curiosity about how cryptocurrencies work and what it all means. Curiosity leads to research, which may lead to the realization that bitcoin is just one of hundreds of digital asset projects and that excitement and investment into cryptocurrencies is happening at an insane pace. Hopefully, the research also reveals that digital assets are still very much a new frontier and are still a risky investment with potential security concerns (like hacked wallets). Nonetheless, the turbulent times sometimes correlate to upside opportunities.
3. Knowledge: This phase comes with its own sub-arc. After spending time reading a bunch of articles, or maybe even a book or two, and then also joining some new crypto subreddits or other forums, a new entrant to the crypto-economy might feel confident about what he or she is doing. The new fan might be able to summarize some of the basic technical details and run through some use cases. The thing is, the crypto space is complicated and changes quickly, which means the arc of crypto knowledge might also lead to…
4. Doubt: That warm knowledgeable feeling is slowly (or maybe all at once) replaced with a sense of dread. Awareness is replaced with the crushing weight of the enormity and heaviness of all of the technical details, security concerns, and shoddy infrastructure worries that currently plague crypto land. Not to mention the scale and speed at which the technology is developing…and the ICOs — there are just too many to keep up with. Our budding crypto expert is left feeling like a perpetual noob. What once felt like investments into emerging assets now feel like speculative bets. The little roller coast and moon memes that pop-up on social media become pretty fair mood indicators.
5. Acceptance: This phase is a little bit like crypto enlightenment. There is a general acceptance that it is impossible to know everything or to be updated on the latest coins, blockchain developments, or ICOs. But that’s OK, because there is a general acceptance that blockchain and cryptocurrencies will be part of the future in a variety of contexts, and while there will be wild predictions and insane market dynamics, in the end, the underlying technologies and protocols (the ones that survive anyway) will be incredibly valuable. From this position, it is easier to make decisions about future investments of time, energy, and resources. Buy and hodl becomes the mantra.
What do you think? What’s missing from the list?
Also published on Medium.