Crypto Canon

Sonal ChokshiChris DixonDenis NazarovJesse WaldenAli Yahya

Here’s a list of crypto readings and resources (2018-2019). It’s organized from building blocks and basics; foundations (& history); and key concepts — followed by specific topics such as governance; privacy and security; scaling; consensus and governance; cryptoeconomics, cryptoassets, and investing; fundraising and token distribution; decentralized exchanges; stablecoins; and cryptoeconomic primitives and crypto goods (non-fungible tokens, cryptocollectibles, token-curated registries, curation markets). We also included a section with developer tutorials, practical guides, and maker stories — as well as other resources, such as newsletters/updates and courses, at the end. [You can find a16z’s writings, posts, and videos on the topic at]

For a list of resources dedicated to NFTs, applications, community/social tokens and creator DAOs, please see

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Building Blocks and Basics

WTF is the blockchain? — understanding the problem it solves before defining it
by Mohit Mamoria

Ever wonder how bitcoin (and other cryptocurrencies) actually work?
from 3Blue1Brown

How the bitcoin protocol actually works
by Michael Nielsen

Ethereum in 25 minutes
by Vitalik Buterin

How does Ethereum work, anyway? — how it functions at a technical level, without complex math
by Preethi Kasireddy

Decrypting crypto, from bitcoin and blockchain to ICOs
by Alex Rampell

An introduction to crypto
by Linda Xie

Cryptographic hash function — what they are, properties of, etc.
by Khan Academy

Basic primer on blockchain — ledger basics, why it matters
by Chris Berg, Sinclair Davidson, and Jason Potts

Basic terminology for Ethereum — from gas to dapps (distributed apps)
by Matt Condon

A basic glossary of terms — a few short and simple definitions

Crypto Glossary: Cryptocurrencies & Blockchains — key concepts and terms to know that relate to NFTs (cryptography, proof of stake, more)
by Alex Pruden and Sonal Chokshi

Beginner’s guide series on cryptoassets (series) — from ethereum to litecoin
by Linda Xie 

Foundations (& History)

Bitcoin whitepaper (2009): A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System
by Satoshi Nakamoto

Ethereum whitepaper (2013+): A Next-Generation Smart Contract and Decentralized Application Platform
by Vitalik Buterin et al

The Byzantine Generals Problem (1982)
by Leslie Lamport, Robert Shostak, and Marshall Pease

The Agoric papers series (1988)
by Mark Miller and K. Eric Drexler

The idea of smart contracts (1997)
by Nick Szabo

Why bitcoin matters (2014)
by Marc Andreessen

Bitcoin’s academic pedigree (2017)
by Arvind Narayanan and Jeremy Clark

Key Concepts

Beyond the bitcoin bubble
by Steven Johnson

Crypto tokens: A breakthrough in open network design
by Chris Dixon 

Crypto tokens and the coming age of protocol innovation
by Albert Wenger 

Fat protocols
by Joel Monegro 

Cryptocurrencies, app coins, and investing in protocols
Olaf Carson-Wee, Chris Dixon, and Sonal Chokshi

Getting applications into people’s hands
Juan Benet and Chris Dixon

Blockchain: what is it good for? — including smart contracts
by Ed Felten

How the U.S. government used blockchain to fight fraud
by Kathryn Haun 

Bitcoin network effects
by Elad Gil

Keepers: workers that maintain blockchain networks — when designed correctly, tokens can act like rocket-fuel for driving network effects by incentivizing desired behaviors
by Ryan Zurrer

The quiet master of cryptocurrency — Nick Szabo in conversation with Naval Ravikant
by Tim Ferris

Why crypto tokens matter
Fred Ehrsam and Chris Dixon

What are cryptonetworks and why are tokens fundamental? — with full deck
by Nick Grossman

Why it’s hard to “get” bitcoin: the blockchain spectrum
by Dhruv Bansal

Money, blockchains, and social scalability
by Nick Szabo

What do we mean by “blockchains are trustless”?
by Preethi Kasireddy 

Why decentralization matters — from eras of the internet to cryptonetworks
by Chris Dixon

The meaning of decentralization — but what does that actually mean? nuances, depth
by Vitalik Buterin

Quantifying decentralization — we must be able to measure blockchain decentralization before we can improve it
by Balaji Srinivasan and Leland Lee

The truth about blockchain — framework for adoption to help big company executives understand state of development; strategic investments; challenges, resources, processes to facilitate adoption
by Marco Iansiti and Karim Lakhani

The slow death of the firm
by Nick Tomaino

Vitalik Buterin, creator of Ethereum — Unchained: big ideas from the worlds of blockchain and cryptocurrency
by Laura Shin

Mental models for understanding tokens
Nick Tomaino and Chris Dixon

Hard forks, soft forks, defaults, and coercion — illustrating fork types, benefits, addressing criticisms
by Vitalik Buterin


An overview of governance in blockchains — introduction slides to a working paper
by Odysseas Sclavounis and Nic Carter

Governance deep dive — slides from Blockchain at Berkeley
by Alexandra Tran and Steven Elleman

The myth of the irrational token holder — why blockchain governance doesn’t fit squarely into any existing model
by Kathleen Breitman 

Blockchain governance/ governance 101 — talk from Ethereum Foundation at BeyondBlock Taipei 2017
by Vlad Zamfir

Blockchain governance — design components, approaches, suggestions
by Fred Ehrsam

Against on-chain governance — refuting (and rebuking) the above post
by Vlad Zamfir

On-chain vote buying and the rise of dark DAOs — on on-chain voting and governance
by Philip Daian, Tyler Kell, Ian Miers, and Ari Juels

Thoughts on governance and network effects
Luke Duncan

Notes on blockchain governance
by Vitalik Buterin

Tezos position paper — a self-amending crypto-ledger 
by Arthur and Kathleen Breitman

An Overview of Cosmos Hub Governance — how a proposal is submitted, how deposits are collected, how the voting happens and how the final outcome is determined
by Felix Lutsch

Privacy and Security

Privacy on the blockchain
by Vitalik Buterin

Securing smart contracts (series) — 6 Solidity vulnerabilities and how to avoid them
from Loom

Ethereum smart contract best practices
by ConsenSys Diligence

Town Crier: an authenticated data feed for smart contracts
by Fan Zhang, Ethan Cecchetti, Kyle Croman, Ari Juels, and Elaine Shi

Devcon3 panel on formal verification
Phil Daian, Everett Hildenbrandt, Yoichi Hirai, and Loi Luu, moderated by Reto Trinkler

What are zk-SNARKs?
by Jay Graber

Introduction to zero-knowledge proofs — Zero Knowledge podcast episode 21, examples and underlying concepts
by Fredrik Harrysson and Anna Rose

Understanding zero-knowledge proofs — a summary based on the above episode of Zero Knowledge (with Fredrik Harrysson and Anna Rose)
by Nicole Zhu

Zk-SNARKs: under the hood (series) — assumes basic knowledge of zk-SNARKs (zero-knowledge succinct non-interactive argument of knowledge)
by Vitalik Buterin

STARKs, part I: proofs with polynomials — general-purpose technology that can be used for all sorts of use cases ranging from verifiable computation to privacy-preserving cryptocurrency
by Vitalik Buterin

Scalable, transparent, and post-quantum secure computational integrity — on transparent zk-SNARKs (zk-STARKs) as a solution to the tension between personal privacy and institutional integrity
by Eli Ben-Sasson, Iddo Bentov, Yinon Horesh, and Michael Riabzev

Succinct non-interactive zero knowledge for a von Neumann Architecture
by Eli Ben-Sasson, Alessandro Chiesa, Eran Tromer, and Madars Virza


Blockchains don’t scale — not today, at least… but there’s hope
by Preethi Kasireddy

The decentralized-consistent-scale (DCS) triangle — on the “trilemma” of scalability, tradeoffs between decentralized, consistent, or scalable
by Trent McConaghy 

Models for scaling trustless computation — on the “trilemma” of scalability, tradeoffs between safety, scalability, and decentralization of block production
by Kyle Samani

What are zk-SNARKs and why do they matter? (a fable) — a tale of Ethereum scalability
by Eric Gorski

Platform currencies may soon be obsolete — here is my claim: within 5 years the biggest cryptocurrency by market cap will be an application token
by Aleksandr Bulkin

The importance of layer two — an HTTP of bitcoin and blockchains
by Elizabeth Stark

What is the Lightning Network and how can it help bitcoin scale?
by Elizabeth Stark

Making sense of Ethereum’s Layer 2 scaling solutions: state channels, Plasma, and Truebit
by Josh Stark

On managing tradeoffs between Layer 1 and Layer 2 innovations
by Vitalik Buterin

Scaling Tezos — scaling with recursive SNARKs (succinct non-interactive zero-knowledge proofs of knowledge)
by Arthur Breitman

Ethereum Foundation research initiatives — primary topics in both pure and applied research
by Ethereum Foundation

Ethereum scalability research and development subsidy programs
by Vitalik Buterin

A beginner’s guide to Ethermint
by Tendermint

Construction of a plasma chain 0x1
by David Knott

Accounts, transactions, gas, and block gas limits in Ethereum
by Hudson Jameson

Interplanetary linked computing: separating Merkle Computing from blockchain computational courts
by Simon de la Rouviere

Ethereum sharding: overview and finality
by Hsiao-Wei Wang


What it means to have consensus in a distributed system — brief basics of distributed systems and distributed “consensus”
by Preethi Kasireddy

Decentralization in bitcoin and ethereum
by Adem Efe Gencer, Soumya Basu, Ittay Eyal, Robbert van Renesse, and Emin Gün Sirer

A proof of stake design philosophy
by Vitalik Buterin

Delegrated proof of stake: Features and tradeoffs
by Myles Snider

Seeking consensus on consensus — DPOS (delegated proof of stake) and the Two Generals’ problem
by Ian Grigg

Consensus Compare: Casper vs. Tendermint; Tendermint BFT vs. EOS dPoS
from Tendermint

Ethereum Casper 101
by Jon Choi

The history of Casper  (series)
by Vlad Zamfir

Inflation and participation in stake-based token protocols
by Doug Petkanics

Cryptoeconomics, Cryptoassets, and Investing

Making sense of cryptoeconomics — the term and the concept
by Josh Stark

A crash course in mechanism design for cryptoeconomic applications — understanding the basic fundamentals of cryptoeconomics
from BlockChannel

The security token thesis — when a broad array of assets moves to blockchain records of ownership (represented by tokens)
by Stephen McKeon

Cryptoasset valuations — a theory and framework for evaluating
by Chris Burniske

An (institutional) investor’s take on cryptoassets
by John Pfeffer

Comments on the above (tweetstorm) — network effects?; programmability as feature of money
by Kyle Samani

On value, velocity, and monetary theory — a new approach to cryptoasset valuations
by Alex Evans

On the quantity theory of money for tokens — take from a former research officer at Federal Reserve Bank (Minneapolis)
by Warren Weber

On medium-of-exchange token valuations
by Vitalik Buterin

Understanding token velocity
by Kyle Samani

A process for evaluating new tokens
by Nick Tomaino

Token classification framework — a multi-dimensional tool for understanding and classifying crypto tokens
by Thomas Euler

On cryptocurrency communities
by Nick Tomaino

Fat protocols are not an investment thesis
by Jake Brukhman

Skin-in-the-game coins
by Ryan Selkis

Fundraising and Token Distribution

Thoughts on tokens
by Balaji Srinivasan

Funding the evolution of blockchains
by Fred Ehrsam

The bitcoin model for crowdfunding
by Naval Ravikant

How to make bonding curves for continuous token models — a novel token distribution mechanism for building healthy communities, a technical primer
by Slava Balasanov

Separating the staking token from the fee token — introducing the Photon (the Hard Spoon explained)
by Tendermint

Explanation of DAICOs
by Vitalik Buterin

The SAFT Project

Regulatory environment and considerations — updates and explainers
from Coin Center

Decentralized Exchanges

State of decentralized exchanges, 2018
by Nathan Sexer

Networked liquidity — projects solving the chicken and egg problem
by Radar Relay

List of decentralized exchanges — of cryptocurrencies and tokens (does not yet include column for degree of decentralization)


Stablecoins: A holy grail in digital currency
by Nick Tomaino

An overview of stablecoins
by Myles Snider

The search for a stable cryptocurrency
by Vitalik Buterin

Maker for dummies: a plain English explanation of the Dai stablecoin
by Gregory DiPrisco

Cryptoeconomic Primitives and Crypto Goods: Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs), Cryptocollectibles, Token Curated Registries (TCRs), and Curation Markets

The emergence of cryptoeconomic primitives — definitions and building blocks of a token-based economy
by Jacob Home

Token lexicon — buzzwords related to curation markets and collectibles
by Billy Rennekamp

Smart media tokens
from Steemit

Digital pets that don’t die
by Elaine Ou

Will cryptocurrencies be the art market’s next big thing?
by Scott Reyburn

Digital collectibles and the weird future of “digibles”
by Josh Stark

Cryptocollectibles are XLNT, but nobody knows what’s next
by Matt Condon

Rare pepe — what happens when you combine a crypto-asset with a meme and a trading card
by Fred Wilson

Introducing curation markets — trade popularity of memes and information (with code!)
by Simon de la Rouviere

Curation markets (tweetstorm) — summary and implications of
by Fred Ehrsam

Early UIs for curation markets (tweetstorm) — categories and some projects using markets to curate human readable information
by Jesse Walden

Making token curated registries (decentralized production of high-quality lists) work in practice — voting is the mechanism at the center, but information environment matters too
by Alex Tabarrok

Token curated registries — a more formal but less-than-mathematical view of token-curated registries
by Mike Goldin

Token curated registry design patterns — design thinking and use case exploration for these building blocks of decentralized applications based on fungible tokens and digital scarcity
by Matt Lockyer

Token curated registries that don’t work — TCRs are a holy grail of decentralized computing (all about trustless systems), but have a number of subtle but significant problems
by Aleksandr Bulkin

Token curated registry design flaws — why blockchain needs reputation
by Slava Balasanov

Building ‘Google for the economic web’ on the Ethereum blockchain
by Maciej Olpinski

Developer Tutorials, Practical Guides, and Maker Stories

Learn to code Ethereum dapps by building your own game — designed for beginners to Solidity (even if you’ve never coded with Solidity before)

How to code your own cryptokitties-style game on Ethereum
by James Martin Duffy

Learning Solidity — commit-reveal voting
by Karl Floersch

The hitchhiker’s guide to smart contracts in Ethereum
by Manuel Araoz 

Introduction to zk-SNARKs with examples — an overview of zk-SNARKs from a practical viewpoint
Christian Lundkvist

zkSNARKs: driver’s ed — practical beginner’s guide to creating, proving, verifying in contracts
by Joseph Stockermans

Epicenter — a trove of interviews with many different blockchain project leads

The Ceremony — Radiolab podcast featuring story of Zcash
with Morgen Peck, Peter Todd, Peter Van Valkenburgh, Zooko Wilcox; by Molly Webster and Matt Kielty

Other Resources – Newsletters/ Updates

Token Daily — place to share/discover news, launches/ product updates, articles, discussions, and deep-dive Q&As with experts
by Soona Amhaz, Ari Paul, Ryan Selkis, Dennis Stücken, Erik Torenberg, Ben Tossell, Linda Xie, et al

Week in Ethereum News — tracking developments in the Ethereum ecosystem
by Evan Van Ness

The Control — on the entrepreneurs, projects and protocols that are putting control of power in the hands of the people
by 1confirmation

Token Economy — tracking new developments in distributed ledger tech
by Stefano Bernardi and Yannick Roux

Proof of Work — projects and progress in crypto, also a view from China
by Eric Meltzer

The Defiant — daily newsletter “decrypting” the intersection of blockchain and finance
by Camila Russo 

Other Resources – Courses

Cryptocurrency (2018)
by Susan Athey and Kathryn Haun

Bitcoin and Cryptocurrency Technologies (2015)
by Arvind Narayan, Joseph Bonneau, Edward Felten, Andrew Miller

Advanced topics in computer science: Bitcoin and cryptocurrency technologies (2014)
by Arvind Narayan

A graduate course in applied cryptography (2017-2018)
by Dan Boneh and Victor Shoup

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