The Crypto Understanding Continuum (CUC)

A few weeks ago, I was speaking to a group of financial professionals. I was about 40 minutes into my spiel, talking about our approach for selecting crypto investments, the importance of stablecoins, the upcoming upgrade to Ethereum, and so on.

The main partner in the firm stopped me. “Hang on,” he said. “So, what is bitcoin?”

This story represents everything I’ve learned in the last five years. Everyone acknowledges the importance of education in crypto investing, but people are at very different stages of their crypto understanding.

Often the people who should know the most — bankers and financial advisers — are the ones who know the least. (Meanwhile, their teenagers are often crypto experts.)

I think of it like a continuum, which we’ll call the Crypto Understanding Continuum:

This is a real problem.

When you’re trying to educate, you need to know if your audience is “101” or “Ph.D.” In this industry, it’s usually a mix of both. So you either start at the beginner level (and bore the experts), or you skip to boss level (and lose the newbies).

I’ve tried splitting my talks — 50% crypto curious, 50% crypto confident — but that usually leaves half the audience bored and the other half confused.

A related problem is people don’t want to look stupid. So, someone might have fallen off the Understanding Bus miles ago, but they’re afraid to raise their hand. (Often, the more highly paid, the more afraid.)

One trick that works is asking the audience to raise their hands if they own crypto. This is the single biggest indicator of someone’s expertise: if you own bitcoin, you at least understand the basics. I do that at the beginning of my talks, then calibrate accordingly.

Many of you, too, are trying to educate people about crypto investing — your friends, family, co-workers, or Becky at the nail salon. I offer this hard-won wisdom: try to find out what they know first.

Our financial and crypto clients often want to do educational content for their customers. “Let’s do a series explaining what bitcoin is,” they usually suggest. Well, last time I checked, Google had 10,600,000 results for “what is bitcoin.”

Meanwhile, what their more advanced customers really want is topics like how to do yield farming with Uniswap (only 2,000 results).

In other words, the Crypto Understanding Continuum is not just a problem for crypto educators, it’s also a problem for crypto companies. You need to speak to both the crypto-curious and the crypto-confident — and everyone in between.

The CUC is especially a problem for us at Bitcoin Market Journal, because we’re redesigning our website. We’ve got thousands of pages to organize, and we need a way to quickly figure out where they are in their crypto knowledge.

So we designed a flowchart.

The Crypto Investing Flowchart v1

Back in 2020, I made a simple flowchart that showed investors how to think about crypto investing in the context of their overall financial goals.

The Crypto Investing Flowchart v2

If the first one was too high-level, my next attempt was probably too granular:

I was trying to show our approach of steady-drip investing (a.k.a. dollar-cost averaging) into a portfolio of stocks and blocks: our Blockchain Believer portfolio.

But I called it the “Blockchain Investing Snowball,” and the diagram was rectangular. Snowballs are round.

The Crypto Investing Flowchart v3

Third time’s the charm. And what I have in mind is not a flowchart at all, but an online tool.

When you come to our homepage, imagine a questionnaire (think SurveyMonkey) that figures out your level of knowledge and funnels you into the appropriate place on the website. Maybe it could also give you some instant gratification on new crypto investments to consider.

To build this, we would have to diagram the user flow for our developers, so they could build the questionnaire. Here’s my latest attempt:

We’ve mocked up a rough version of this survey, and I would be extremely grateful if you would help us test it out. All responses are anonymous.

Click here to take the survey, and you can see the high-level answers when you’ve finished.

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