My Crypto Deep Dive (Part 1)
September 28, 2021
5 min read
NFTs, Web3, & the Metaverse have quickly covered my entire Twitter feed within the past few months. I realized that my superficial understanding of these topics couldn't keep up with everything going on. So three weeks ago, my FOMO hit a critical point and I finally decided to deep dive into crypto.
I created my own "curriculum" and broke it into monthly phases. Each phase is dependent on the previous phase, which means I won't decide on which area to pursue until the end of the current phase. At the time of writing this I'm in the final week of phase 1.
The theme for this phase was exploration. My approach was to first learn the fundamentals, then follow my interests & expose myself to as much of this space as possible.
Peter Attia has a great framework on the 4 stages of learning. The first two stages are unconscious incompetence (not knowing what you don't know) and conscious incompetence (knowing what you don't know).
You want to enter the second stage as fast as possible, and complete immersion is a great way to do that. I was extremely liberal with what I explored and didn't filter anything. I joined 60 (!!!) Discord servers, saved hundreds of tabs related to crypto, joined a DAO, and shifted ~80% of my content consumption to crypto.
Most of these metrics aren't actually useful — they don't represent how much I've legitimately learned. But I do think this approach was useful specifically for exposure. Topics started to organically pop up that I didn't even know existed (staking, sharding, rollups, yield farming, etc.).
I went from knowing nothing about crypto to at least understanding where my knowledge was lacking. Now, I can choose what to dive deeper into.
I spent the first two weeks learning blockchain fundamentals. It took me ten days to feel satisfied with my level of understanding of the blockchain. In hindsight, there were 5 resources I could've used to understand the fundamentals in two days. But, I didn't have a list of recommendations when I started (which is why I made one).
Towards the end of the second week, I started to expose myself to Solidity. I completed one course but stopped since I didn't know if that was what I wanted to fully dive into just yet.
The third week (the one I just finished) felt a bit more inefficient. I explored a few companies & consolidated some of my notes, but it didn't feel like an effective use of my time.
The main struggle I had during these three weeks was constantly feeling behind everyone else. I would catch myself skimming over content without deeply understanding it because I didn't feel like I had enough time to stop and reflect. I'm still not entirely over this feeling, but my somewhat satisfactory answer is that this is a positive signal — it means I'm exposing myself to people in this space who are ahead of me, which will force me to level up faster.
I want to continue iterating on my approach to learning crypto, so I'm introducing three new experiments this week:
I've reached the conscious incompetence stage, where I have a massive list of concepts to learn about & rabbit holes to go down.
I'm spending the final week of phase 1 going back to Solidity as my sole focus. I've concluded that learning Solidity will give me the most leverage. One benefit of crypto is that many companies are open-source, so you can pick apart & contribute to what they're building. But that doesn't mean anything if you can't understand the code. Solidity is how you become literate in the world of crypto.
Measurement of Success: 10 hours building a project in Solidity (less time on courses, more time on actual coding).
I want to more effectively retain what I'm learning. David Perell wrote an excellent essay on why consuming tons of content isn't effective. Content consumption is an easy dopamine hit that makes you feel like you're learning even if you're not.
I've tried loom videos before, but they take up a lot of energy. And for good reason — learning should be challenging. When you're forced to verbalize concepts, you get immediate feedback on where the gaps in your knowledge are.
I mentioned before that I felt rushed to cover as many topics as possible, which is why I wasn't consistent with this. But reflecting on the past three weeks made me realize the tradeoff — 10 days of learning blockchain fundamentals by consuming as much content as possible vs. 2-5 days of consuming less content while forcing myself to explain concepts in my own words.
Measurement of Success: 5 loom videos recapping what I learned that day.
I felt afraid of talking to people deep in this space since my knowledge was essentially zero. In retrospect, this probably held me back & lengthened the time it took to understand certain concepts. Regardless, I've reached a point where I'm comfortable enough to reach out to people in this space & ask them questions.
Measurement of Success: DMs to 5 people in the crypto space. I've created a list of 60+ people to work from.
Even with the feeling of being late to the game, my overall experience has been highly positive — I don't think I've enjoyed learning a topic as much as I have with crypto. I'll start posting weekly reflections on what I'm learning.