Blockchain: 11 ways to get smarter

Want to keep learning about blockchain? Experts share their favorite blockchain resources, from books to podcasts
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It seems everyone in tech and business circles is talking about blockchain. But what if you feel like you don’t speak the language?

It’s time to start reading – and in some cases listening or watching – to get up to speed.

We tried to help IT leaders build up their blockchain knowledge in 2018, with topics including:

We also did a series of closer looks at how blockchain may (or may not, in some cases) fit vertical industries such as healthcare and advertising. We even served up some expert advice for IT pros on how to land a blockchain job.

Now that it’s a brand-new year, many of us have learning goals on our lists of 2019 resolutions. So we decided to break in the new calendar by asking a variety of experts for their favorite blockchain resources, from books to podcasts to articles.

Here are 11 resources (and then some) that can help anyone get smarter about blockchain:

Blockchain books

Blockchain: Blueprint for a New Economy, by Melanie Swan

Recommended by Ed Featherston, distinguished technologist at Cloud Technology Partners

This is the first of two books that Featherston suggests adding to your reading list. Neither both book is new – Swan’s first came out in 2015 – but they remain relevant in spite of the rapid evolution of blockchain: “Both books a few years old, but the concepts and business perspectives are still valid,” Featherston says. He likes Blueprint because it is “much more down to earth” – a welcome change when dealing with a topic overloaded buzz and pie-in-the-sky predictions.

Blockchain Revolution: How the Technology Behind Bitcoin Is Changing Money, Business, and the World, by Don Tapscott and Alex Tapscott

Recommended by Featherston

If you like hype, here’s Featherston’s second book recommendation: Blockchain Revolution is authored by a father-and-son team, the Tapscotts, well-known in the blockchain community for their evangelism. The book, Featherston says, is “very high on hype, but a must-read as everyone talking blockchain knows them and their views.”

Security Engineering: A Guide to Building Dependable Distributed Systems by Ross J. Anderson

Recommended by Marta Pierkarska, director of ecosystem at Hyperledger

Blockchain security is inevitably going to become a hotter topic as applications of the technology increase. As experts like Pierkarska point out, it’s a myth – a potentially debilitating one at that – to assume that data on a blockchain is inherently secure. Here’s a read for IT leaders and security pros who want to think deeply about designing security into distributed systems. “While not [about] blockchain [specifically], it’s incredibly important to understand the basics of security and good system design,” says Pierkarska.

Blockchain podcasts

Bad Crypto Podcast, hosted by Joel Comm and Travis Wright

Recommended by Yael Tamar, founder, Top of Blockchain

As the title suggests, this podcast does go heavy on cryptocurrency, but Tamar notes that it also showcases other blockchain projects. It’s a good resource for understanding the relationship between cryptocurrencies and the underlying blockchain technology that powers them, in part so that IT leaders are better able to separate hype from practical business use cases. Also, Bad Crypto will feel less like homework: “[It’s] very entertaining and educational,” Tamar says.

Unchained, by Laura Shin

Recommended by The Enterprisers Project

Another good choice for podcast fans, Unchained covers by cryptocurrency topics but also – and perhaps more importantly from a business perspective – the much wider potential applications and impacts of blockchain across different industries.

Kevin Casey writes about technology and business for a variety of publications. He won an Azbee Award, given by the American Society of Business Publication Editors, for his story, "Are You Too Old For IT?" He's a former community choice honoree in the Small Business Influencer Awards.