Understanding Bitcoin: The Irresistible Journey (2022)

Welcome fren! After our last piece (What Is A Bitcoin) you should be a lot closer to properly understanding Bitcoin now. For many people though, really getting a good grasp on Bitcoin is very hard and trust us, your journey is in fact just starting.

There’s layers on top of layers that as experts, we don’t want to throw at people that aren’t ready for it (don’t worry, there’s many layers but none of it is super hard). As such we want to introduce you to the way we at Athena Alpha structure this journey from Beginner to Expert.

Understanding Bitcoin Is A Journey

When people come into contact with Bitcoin for the first time, most just disregard it. Whether it’s due to thinking it’s a scam, that it’ll just never work, that it’ll “obviously get hacked” or any other number of things, they just push it away and ignore it.

This isn’t unique to Bitcoin either, it’s very common knowledge in marketing that you basically need to insert your ad deeeeep into someones face about 5-7 times before they’ll actually pay attention to it at all. Thankfully everyone loves to talk about Bitcoin so this process happens quickly.

After hearing about Bitcoin a dozen plus times (likely still being extremely confused) that same person starts to think a bit deeper. Why am I still hearing about Bitcoin? It’s a scam / fad / trend so how is it still around and not dead?? An intriguing quandary indeed! So finally they scratch the itch…

I should look into that bitcoin thing meme
A day every true Bitcoiner looks back fondly on

They probably read some mostly-inaccurate-but-close-enough 400 word explainer piece from Forbes or whatever and you know what? It’s… it’s kind of interesting!

🐰🕳️

Down the rabbit hole they go.

This is what we at Athena Alpha refer to as the Beginner Level. We have created these levels to help guide new Bitcoiners on their journey with definitive stages that you can easily work through. We outline these 3 stages below, but as a quick general overview this is what you can expect as you go through the process of adopting the Bitcoin Standard.

The first step for anyone is to acquire and hold some bitcoin. A lot of people make the rookie mistake of selling their bitcoin for something else (shitcoins, fiat etc) instead of riding the roller coaster and holding onto it.

After a while of this hodling they come to the realisation that storing their savings in bitcoin is in fact the best thing they can do. This realisation in turn has them stacking more and more sats as the months and years go by. As they continue to save consistently and Bitcoins famous Number Go Up (NGU) technology takes hold, more and more of the persons savings ends up in Bitcoin. This of course leads to them valuing it more as well.

As this realisation that Bitcoin is the apex predator of savings technology hits home, they start comparing everything to the number of sats they could have stacked. This cost of doing something else (the opportunity cost) starts to get considered with every major and even minor purchase. Should I buy that new game… or bitcoin?

You will realise what the exponential monetisation process that is happening before your eyes represents: the ultimate opportunity cost.

Gigi

This continuous saving and learning about Bitcoin sees the person moving further and further away from whatever fiat currency they used to use and towards Bitcoin as the base standard in their life. More things get paid for in bitcoin. More bitcoins are earned by their work. Bitcoin becomes the standard.

This is a long, multi year journey and everyone comes into it at different points and with different experience levels. If you already know how to code, know about cryptography, know about telecommunication networks or about Austrian economics congratulations, you’ve got an advantage! If you know none of those things don’t worry though as that’s why we’re here, to help everyone.

So come with us and let’s broadly define each level both to map out your path of learning and to ensure you don’t miss out on anything critical. Over time we will use this post to link future pieces that help teach each of the below fundamentals.

Beginner

A beginner is someone who knows either nothing or very little about Bitcoin. They will likely own no bitcoins at all or maybe have bought some on an exchange one time, but it’s a very small, non-life-changing amount. If this is you now, we recommend you start with our seminal piece on What Is A Bitcoin. We also have a shorter version that only takes about 4 minutes to read too: How Does Bitcoin Work For Dummies?

While Bitcoin Privacy and security is less important at these amounts, it’s important to learn good, correct information from the get go such as buying bitcoins from non-KYC sources and taking full custody of your own private keys.

Posts with the Beginner tag try to focus mostly on just explaining, simply, what Bitcoin is and the core fundamentals of how the network works, why it works the way it does, the implications of it and so on.

These introductory pieces will be in depth, but still gloss over some of the more gritty details of Bitcoin to help reduce confusion. There will be posts covering all aspects of Bitcoin, from buying it, to storing it, to the software and hardware that’s recommend for best security and privacy.

It’s recommended that before advancing to the next level, you should be able to:

  • Describe the different parts of the Bitcoin network and How Bitcoin Works
  • Describe what Nodes and Bitcoin Miners are and what they do
  • Describe the difference between Bitcoin and Altcoins
  • Describe the difference between a seed phrase, address, private keys and public keys
  • Describe why you should always manage your own private keys
  • Describe the different types of wallets and some pros and cons of each type
  • Buy bitcoins via a non-KYC source
  • Take full custody of your private keys
  • Send and receive bitcoins with your own Bitcoin Wallet software
Beginner
Funds< $10,000 USD
Exchange TypeNon-KYC
Signature TypeSingle Signature
Signing Device?No (Hot Wallet)
Own Full Node?No
Server TypePublic Electrum
toggle_on
Tor?No
Seed CustodySelf Custody
Seed StorageLaminated Paper
Storage Locations1
Location SecurityNone
Adapted from Sparrow Wallet Best Practices

In essence: Learn what Bitcoin is and buy some sats

Intermediate

Now that you know more about Bitcoin than 99.9% of the population (sad we know), the main focus of the Intermediate level is to significantly enhance your security and privacy. At this stage your Bitcoin investments will likely have grown through purchases or price appreciation and as a result might be quite substantial now.

You ideally don’t want every government, company and spammer / hacker / criminal knowing what that balance is, let alone where you live and that your security is weak af. As such Intermediate level introduces you to more security and privacy preserving principles.

These include signing devices (also called a hardware wallet), seed storage and your own personal Full Bitcoin Node that’s connected to your wallet via Tor. Posts will also focus on the higher order ramifications of Bitcoin like its long term investment potential, hyperbitcoinization and its effect on other industries.

It’s recommended that before advancing to the next level, you should:

  • Have a signing device that stores the bulk of your funds
  • Have your own Full Bitcoin Node setup and connected to your wallet over Tor
  • Have your seed phrase stored securely in multiple locations

This level will also introduce the Lightning Network, its personal and business uses, how to setup and manage your own Lightning Node, earning income from one, using BTCPay to take payments for your business and more.

Intermediate
Funds< $100,000 USD
Exchange TypeNon-KYC
Signature TypeSingle Signature
Signing Device?Yes (Cold Storage)
Own Full Node?Yes
Server TypePrivate Electrum
toggle_on
Tor?Yes
Seed CustodySelf Custody
Seed StorageLaminated Paper
Storage Locations2
Location SecurityFire Proof Safe
Adapted from Sparrow Wallet Best Practices

In essence: Get a signing device, a Full Node and buy some more sats

Expert

At this final stage you should know quite a bit about how Bitcoin works and have used it extensively. You’re also likely starting to or already are storing an appreciable amount of your net worth in Bitcoin. As such, the main focus of the Expert level is to fully ensure your funds are as safe and private as they can be.

Reading at this level will cover things like:

  • Enhanced seed management and storage including multiple sites and security
  • Verifying software binaries and PGP key signature checking
  • Air gaped, USB, NFC, Bluetooth signing device connectivity pros and cons
  • Duress PINs, BIP39 Passphrases, decoy wallets and other advanced security measures
  • Multisignature setups including the special differences that you need to know of
  • Pros and cons of multi vendor signing device setups
  • Coin mixing implementations, their pros and cons and how to properly use them
  • High net worth best practices for security and privacy both online and IRL

We will also cover how to properly manage your bitcoins when it comes to your death, how your funds are accessed by those you’ve left them to and more higher order effects that Bitcoin will have on the future of the planet.

Expert
Funds$100,000+ USD
Exchange TypeNon-KYC
Signature TypeMulti Signature
Signing Device?Yes (Cold Storage)
Own Full Node?Yes
Server TypePrivate Electrum
toggle_on
Tor?Yes
Seed CustodySelf Custody
Seed StorageMetal Seed Plate
Storage Locations2+
Location SecurityMultiple Methods
Adapted from Sparrow Wallet Best Practices

In essence: Become Bitcoin and stack sats like the Giga Chad

The Athena Assessment

As you can see, understanding Bitcoin isn’t just a one time read. There’s a reason that Bitcoin has spawned a multi-hundred billion dollar worldwide industry, there’s a lot to cover!

That’s not something to be scared of though, we are dedicated to explaining Bitcoin in simple terms to everyone as we believe it’s really that important. Even if you just subscribe and read our free newsletter you’ll likely be far more informed than most mid wits out there claiming Bitcoin should change to PoS or whatever.

We hope that you’ll not only come to agree with us on its importance, but help spread its hope to as many people as possible. The amount of things in the world that can be fixed by fixing the money supply are truly staggering and that also means that Bitcoin will eventually be integrated into all those things too.

We work to better ourselves and the rest of humanity. Helping you understand how and why this world altering transition is happening – not to mention you growing wealthy through it – is our privilege.

FAQ

How Do Beginners Explain Bitcoin?

Bitcoin is online money that enables instant payments. Free for anyone, anywhere in the world to use at any time. It uses peer-to-peer technology (like torrents) and can be used without any permission from a government or central authority. It cannot be stopped or censored. Its rules cannot be changed, no matter how rich or powerful a country or person is.

Who Is Bitcoin Owned By?

No one owns, runs or controls Bitcoin.

While someone (or multiple someones) under the pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto were the ones who originally invented Bitcoin by publishing the whitepaper for it, no one, not even Satoshi, owns, runs or controls it. The identity of Satoshi Nakamoto still has not been verified to this day. This, together with How Bitcoin Works, means that it is truly a public good just like how no one “owns” or “controls” the Internet.

Can I Buy A House With Bitcoin?

Yes. There have been a number real estate purchases done via Bitcoin, however it’s not something that is very common given Bitcoin still isn’t widely used as a medium of exchange yet. One example of a company that allows you to buy and sell real estate in Bitcoin is bithome, they operate in multiple countries including the United States, Switzerland, Mexico and more. For more examples of places you can spend your bitcoins take a look at our What Can You Do With Bitcoin post!

Can You Turn Bitcoin Into Cash?

Yes. Bitcoin can be exchanged for cash in hundreds of places all over the planet. You can also use what’s called a Bitcoin Debit Card which we cover in our What Can You Do With Bitcoin post. This allows you to spend your bitcoins at any place that accepts Visa or Master Card.

As Bitcoin doesn’t use the legacy financial world, it can also be exchanged in many places most fiat currencies like the USD can’t too. To get an idea of how much of your native fiat currency (“cash”) someone will pay for bitcoins, we recommend CoinGecko.com.


If you want to get serious about growing wealthy with Bitcoin, you need the Athena Alpha Newsletter. Benefits include:

  • Learn more about Bitcoin than 99% of people in just one hour a month
  • Secure your Bitcoin investments and ensure they stay safe from hackers
  • Know what risks your investments are exposed to and how to fix them
  • Keep pace with Bitcoins rapid growth and what opportunities it enables
  • Insights into how Bitcoin can help your business or work save thousands
  • Step-by-Step guides for all aspects of Bitcoin (wallets, buying and more)
  • How to do all of these things and maintain your privacy!