I recently had a series of conversations with different friends of mine who said they’d tried to understand Bitcoin from what was on the internet and failed. Almost all of them said they couldn’t understand mining or why it was needed.
The truth is that there isn’t anything particularly complicated about Bitcoin. Even the cryptography is relatively straightforward. However, there really is a lot to it and there’s a lot of jargon so people get lost with the existing documentation. In fact, Satoshi Nakomoto’s original paper remains the best way to understand the cryptocurrency, and to be honest that isn’t all that easy to read because he assumes some basic understanding before you start.
So I decided to write something that would try to explain Bitcoin for normal people, without assuming they know anything about cryptography or game theory or even peer-to-peer networking. The aim was to allow you to understand all the basic concepts, including mining and why it’s essential to Bitcoin.
This long series of articles is the result.
What These Articles Are Not
There’s a lot of hype around Bitcoin, and if you use your favorite search engine you can easily find articles claiming that it or its associated ‘blockchain technology’ will change the world, or revolutionize finance, or destroy the US dollar or even destroy nation states.
Whilst these discussions are entertaining, the idea of this series of articles is not to add to the hype. These articles will try to describe as dispassionately as possible what Bitcoin and the blockchain is, and let you make up your own mind. I will describe why people get excited about Bitcoin and some obvious problems with the current implementation.