Looking for good explainer for cryptocurrency/blockchain
January 13, 2022 12:40 PM   Subscribe

I've had a few folks ask me about cryptocurrency and blockchain. I have a reasonable understanding of the concepts involved, but I don't understand them so well that I can easily explain. I thought about finding a nice, short explainer video, but my search-engine-fu has failed me. Any recommendations?
posted by braveterry to Computers & Internet (8 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
I am a smart guy. I make my living reading and writing about personal finance. To this day, I have never ever found a coherent crypto/blockchain explainer. And the fact that smart people like you say they understand it but cannot explain it makes me think that the people who think they do understand it don't actually understand it.

This twenty-one minute YT video from Slidebean is the closest I've seen to a coherent explainer, yet it still fails at its aim, in my opinion.

I'm following this thread because I want what you want! I am skeptical that it exists, however.
posted by jdroth at 1:00 PM on January 13 [4 favorites]

I don't know about a good video, but David Gerard's Attack of the 50 Foot Blockchain is a relatively quick entertaining read.
posted by straw at 1:15 PM on January 13

But how does bitcoin actually work? - YouTube. (on, maybe not simple, but watch twice maybe?)
posted by zengargoyle at 1:21 PM on January 13

What exactly are you looking to explain? The underlying technical mechanics (merkle tree, PoW/PoS, mining, distributed consensus, smart contracts)? Or the "currencies" and related things that are built on top of those (an unregulated financial system and why that's a good idea, despite the energy costs, or perhaps we'll fix the energy costs using magic or something someday)?
posted by russm at 2:51 PM on January 13 [2 favorites]

Or Public Key Encryption or Cryptographic Hash Functions? PKE is "the magic two lock box". CHF is ... actually harder. The rest isn't that bad. Signatures can be hard, easy to prove, hard to fake. The hard is like they have to go on a mission and pray to the goddess of chaos to get the ink to put in their pen to sign the piece of paper. They get paid for the effort/luck by the system itself and because we pay them to go to the trouble do that hard signature thing that may/may-not work. The goddess will eventually favor someone so it all works out. You end up paying for that signature one way or another.
posted by zengargoyle at 3:30 PM on January 13

yeah, not sure which concept you're trying to explain but perhaps Whiteboard Crypto might have something for you.
posted by aielen at 3:59 PM on January 13

This recent blog post from Stephen Diehl is a crisp "explainer" of the skeptical arguments. His writing in general is always helpful to me as a morbidly obsessed observer of what feels to me like pure madness unfolding in real time. I read few people who combine the relevant knowledge domains of software engineering, venture capital and investment, and economic history and theory.

I sort of wouldn't trust video to do the job here. Cold hard facts and logic penetrate the brain better in writing. There's nothing visual to explain except maybe the appearance of mining farms and power plants. This is a psychological phenomenon, aka the madness of crowds.
posted by spitbull at 11:46 AM on January 15 [1 favorite]

I just watched this, and while it's not short, it is more comprehensive about both the technology and the culture than anything else I've seen.
posted by All Might Be Well at 12:51 PM on January 24

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