It’s no secret that cryptocurrencies are an inherently obfuscated topic. And when you think about, it doesn’t take long to understand why. You could almost state they’re a melting pot, slow cooked over several years with layered aspects of monetary policy, mathematics, cryptography, philosophy, psychology, programming, game-theory, economics, a dash of creativity, and finally seasoned with the spices of general societal evolution. Not to mention it being served and born out of the disillusionment that the first cypher punks (Satoshi) felt toward centralized and hierarchal systems.
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So, with this in mind, I’m going to use the analogy of a restaurant (and kitchen) to bring a little more flavor to this answer (pun intended). Otherwise, the general discourse can, when left sitting out in the indelible banquet of the web too long, lend itself to being a little dry.
And I use this analogy specifically because, while not perfect, having observed my father running his restaurant, which was established sixty years ago, I have a slightly more tangible reference point.
So to break down this analogy with a little more clarity, and provide a clearer reference, what I refer to, and the ensuing comparisons are as follows:
The restaurant owners: “whales”, institutional investors, early adopters, potentially even cypher-punks, etc.
The manufacturers and suppliers of utensils (like pots, pans, along with the farmers of produce): people that have helped develop foundational protocols like ethereum, EOS, Polygon, etc.
The chefs: next layer or generation of developers, and programmers who use the underlying tools and tech to build and scale dApps. This could also be inclusive to founders of exchanges, and companies that create decentralized solutions.
The waiters, managers, and staff: people that help market the above tools and solutions to the public.
Food bloggers and reviewers: where I make the association to the people you’re referring to.
The public and diners: global community.
As mentioned, and specific to your question, the layer of food bloggers or reviewers is where I categorize and make a more coherent association to self-proclaimed experts.
And the reason is largely due to the dependency, trust, authority bias, social proof, and communities they build, where people rely on their statements (and the size of their followers) to make then generalized assumptions or decisions on various layers of technology.
But the real distinction, the reason these people (across various industries) hold some value in society is because they help trade an omnipresent and everlasting (yet intangible) commodity known as time.
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Because cryptocurrencies are a complex topic, it goes without saying that most people feel intimidated or don’t have the time to learn about them. They want others to explain it. That sense of reliance and dependence puts the “explainers” on a pedestal. And, when coupled with a decent marketing or production budget to help with editing and graphics, these “experts” slowly build critical acclaim.
Cryptocurrencies require time, independent thinking, humility, and patience to truly gain insight on. And, as mentioned, most people can’t be bothered to do this. Due to this fact, there is an advantage for the people that do. The “experts” may not necessarily have a broad spectrum or deep fundamental awareness. But, like the food bloggers, they make a conscious commitment to spend just a little more time relative to the everyday person, and therefore start to gain a partial stance of authority. I can’t answer why they “barely know anything” about cryptocurrencies. If I were to guess, due to the various sub-genres (mentioned above), they may have experience in one industry and then leverage said experience to expand their awareness of the overarching spectrum.
But therein lies the problem. Due to the gap created by insufficient self-discipline and patience, people with a slightly higher tolerance for self education (not too dissimilar from you or I) jump in to fill the void. And it is through this play of “social proof” that their profiles are boosted and their image elevated in the minds of the masses, beyond what reality would otherwise dictate.
In addition, due to another irrefutable layer of “status” and social credibility in our modern society, we can’t deny that people naturally want some level of association with smart friends or topics that make them appear intellectually superior or “in the know” to others. So the self-fulfilling prophecy starts to play out where, by association, the audiences of these “knowledgeable figures” share their content to impart some level of base layer wisdom, and these “experts” start to promote and push more content
What’s interesting is that there is a distinction between “understanding” and “knowing” something. I could use the analogy that everyone “understands” what a broken bone is and what causes it. But until you’ve had the experience of breaking your own bone(s), you won’t truly “understand” what it feels like, or internalize that knowledge to a level of lasting significance.
Similarly, there’s a disparate gap of knowledge between chefs, restaurant owners, and suppliers of produce/utensils in the kitchen, that “know” about cuisine and what makes decent food, compared to the bloggers and reviewers that write about it. Of course, I’m making a few generalities here, and I am fully aware that there are professional reviewers who were former chefs or have dedicated their lives to understanding a niche of cuisine.
But when it comes to cryptocurrencies, the people (like the early adopters/chefs/developers/programmers/builders of platforms) are arguably the demographic that truly know about various layers and foundational mechanics of their ensuing dynamics.
What’s important to understand here is that the above demographic are, more often than not, too busy or too consumed in their own ongoing developments and projects to start a YouTube channel. Furthermore, you’ll notice a recurrent theme that true cryptocurrency evangelists generally lean on the humble side. We’ve seen this demonstrated repeatedly through the anonymity of Satoshi, the approachability of people like Andreas Antonopoulos, the mannerisms of Charles Hoskinson, and the charitable donations like Vitalik and Sandeep Nailwal with his COVID relief fund.
On a subjective note, I’m not an expert. And although my experiences in cryptocurrencies have spanned over the last few years, from working in various capacities with exchanges, hedge funds, and start-ups, I too can’t elaborate with full confidence about the differing mechanics of EOS or Stellar. What I prefer to understand and focus on is the real-world applicability and function/utility of these emerging technologies. But this is where I perceive my journey developing, to develop and launch my own currencies/platforms, and better understand how to scale a coin.
In summary, ultimately, it may not be that the experts don’t know anything about cryptocurrencies. It may be that they only understand a cosmetic or cursory layer, and their knowledge relative to others is heightened.
As evidenced by the anonymity of Satoshi, the donations of Vitalik and Sandeep, the approachability and attitudes of people like Andreas – crypto is an industry where it gives you the benefit to say “I don’t know” rather than pretend you do. Because it’s not leaning on the shoulders of pompous corporatism that need to uphold a false or pretentious image. What you get is what you get. Honesty is rewarded.
The remarkable thing is that anyone can learn and gain some traction if they’re willing to put the time, patience, and energy into it. But you won’t know until you have that experience yourself. And, remember, until you develop your own alt-coin or understand the layered architecture of the systems in place with various blockchains and their purpose, your understanding will only go so far. The best test is to let your actions speak for you and not publicly proclaim you are something that you’re not.
Otherwise, you may be in the same position as the infamous Dr. Craig Wright, consistent with restaurants, is like Chef Skinner from Ratatouille.