Bitcoin: A Simple Introduction is an entry-level primer for new users. The intended audience for this book is someone who has just heard about Bitcoin and has only a vague (and perhaps flawed) notion of what it is. Maybe they heard about it from an excited friend who wants them to invest. Maybe they heard it from a customer that has asked them to start accepting Bitcoin for payment.
Maybe they saw a headline in a financial magazine or heard it in a keynote
speech at a conference. Or perhaps they saw a “Bitcoin” button as an option when buying something online. Wherever they came across it, Bitcoin is now in their circle of awareness. It is an itch that needs to be scratched. The flame of curiosity has been kindled and they want to know more.
Sadly, the first sources of information these people are likely to come across aren’t meant for them. They are meant for developers or academics or IT professionals. These books go into great detail about concepts that are both irrelevant and confusing to the average new user. There is nothing wrong with these books, but they are not what the new or perspective Bitcoin user needs. These people are not developers. They are not cryptographers. They don’t work in IT. To them, the words “private key” and “hard fork” are physical objects that have nothing to do with computers or software. And “hashrate” is just flat out gibberish.
The Bitcoin community goes out of its way to teach people new meanings for these words, and that is a mistake. People don’t want to learn a new language. They don’t want to learn about encryption or other concepts that have no point of reference in their everyday activities. They just want to know what all this “Bitcoin” fuss is about.
This book is for them.
It is not a detailed technical examination of code and concepts. Nor is it a step-by-step tutorial of how to back up a wallet or mine bitcoin. It is an explanation in everyday language of what Bitcoin is, how it works, and what makes it special. It contains no technical jargon. I avoid even the “correct” names for concepts if those names would be confusing or unfamiliar. For example, I use the phrase “public ledger” much more often than “Blockchain”, and refer to “hashrate” as “computing power” in the rare instances where I mention it at all. The words “cryptocurrency” and “private key” do not appear in this text outside of this introduction.
Yes, I over-simplify some concepts and ignore others if they are beyond what a new user needs to know or is likely to ask. I use some flawed but “accurate-enough” analogies and examples that may make experienced Bitcoin enthusiasts cringe.
All of this is intentional. Every improper term or contrived example is a decision made for the sake of simplicity.
Likewise, I kept the style of the book light and informal, with a question-and-answer format that is more appealing than the rigid format of a textbook. While this may invite people to skip to whatever question they have at the moment, but the book should be read from start to finish.
Some of the answers to questions later in the book expand on answers to earlier ones.
For the target audience: I hope you find this book useful and enjoyable. For the more experienced reader: I hope you remember what it was like to be a newbie and understand the trade-offs I’ve made. You may not be the target audience, but your boss, your lawyer, and the guy running the register at the coffee shop almost certainly are. I hope you find this book informative enough to consider buying them a copy.
Thank You In Advance For Reading.