I stumbled upon the Saylor Academy Professional Development course, “PRDV151: Bitcoin for Everybody”. Saylor Academy is associated with Michael Saylor, CEO of Microstrategy, which was the first public company to put Bitcoin on its balance sheet. “Saylor Academy is a nonprofit initiative working since 2008 to offer free and open online courses to all who want to learn. We offer nearly 100 full-length courses at the college and professional levels, each of which is available right now — at your pace, on your schedule, and free of cost.” Saylor Academy has free courses on a lot of things, English as a 2nd Language, Math, Politics, etc.
While there is some overlap between Michael Saylor and his non-profit and bitcoin, in general it is just a learning website which also happens to have a Bitcoin course. Despite having read many articles about bitcoin for the past 4 years, I decided to take this course. WOW! I learned a lot. The course is free and signing up for Saylor academy is free. I am going to link a few of the articles that I found most interesting from the courses below as well as some of the most impactful quotes that I got from each article for people who don’t want to read all the articles. Many of the articles are also available from their original sources in spoken format so that would make them easier to listen to while driving instead of taking an hour to read them.
A lot of the information is more about the history of money, how US dollars came to be the World Reserve Currency and other interesting history. Later information gets into the history of bitcoin as well as why it makes good money. I highly recommend taking this course for anyone who is skeptical about Bitcoin.
Unit 1: Bitcoin Economics
Everything requires energy (first law of thermodynamics). Claiming that one usage of energy is more or less wasteful than another is completely subjective since all users have paid market rate to utilize that electricity.
Unit 2: Bitcoin Investment
“What backs the dollar (or euro or yen, etc.) in the first place? When attempting to answer this question, the retort is most often that the dollar is backed by the government, the military (guys with guns), or taxes. However, the dollar is backed by none of these. Not the government, not the military and not taxes. Governments tax what is valuable; a good is not valuable because it is taxed. Similarly, militaries secure what is valuable, not the other way around. And a government cannot dictate the value of its currency; it can only dictate the supply of its currency.
Venezuela, Argentina, and Turkey all have governments, militaries and the authority to tax, yet the currencies of each have deteriorated significantly over the past five years. While it’s not sufficient to prove the counterfactual, each is an example that contradicts the idea that a currency derives its value as a function of government.”
In fact, it posits that bitcoin works so well that it will threaten the incumbent government-run monopolies on money in which case governments will regulate it out of existence to eliminate the threat. Think about the claim that governments will ban bitcoin as conditional logic. Is bitcoin functional as money? If not, governments have nothing to ban. If yes, then governments will attempt to ban bitcoin.
Unit 3: Bitcoin History and Philosophy
Honestly, I didn’t find Unit 3 very interesting. It was full of a lot of history and details that are rather dry reading to me at the moment. While it probably provides useful history, it’s just not very exciting and isn’t completely necessary to understand Bitcoin.
Unit 4: Bitcoin Technology
Under the fiat monetary system, the cost of currency issuance is close to zero, which is very profitable for the national issuers, as there is no longer any limit on the quantity of money that can be created, further shrinking the value of the existing currency in circulation, and annihilating the purchasing power of the currency holders — people like you and me.
Unit 5: Bitcoin in Practice
Unit 5 is relatively short compared to the other units. It is a lot more practical. Here is how Saylor Academy describes unit 5.
“Now that you have some base awareness of Bitcoin, we will cover basic instruction on putting Bitcoin into practice in this unit. This includes acquiring Bitcoin, using a Bitcoin wallet and the Lightning Network, privacy and security practices, and avoiding common pitfalls, scams, and mistakes.”
This is probably a very useful unit for people who don’t have a lot of familiarity with how Bitcoin works.