Proof of Stake: The Making of Ethereum and the Philosophy of Blockchains

Proof of Stake

By Vitalik Buterin, edited by Nathan Schneider
September 2022, Seven Stories Press

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The ideas behind Ethereum in the words of its founder, describing a radical vision for more than a digital currency—reinventing organizations, economics, and democracy itself in the age of the internet.

After Ethereum creator Vitalik Buterin dropped out of college and launched Bitcoin Magazine, he wrote the Ethereum white paper, which proposed an open source system that would take what Bitcoin did for money and do it for everything else: contracts, social networks, and sharing economies. Now, less than a decade later, his idea is valued at about half a trillion dollars, and it is the foundation for the weird new world of NFT artworks, virtual real estate, and decentralized autonomous organizations.

Understanding and engaging with Buterin’s ideas will be of growing importance as the consequences of his invention continue to unfold and inspire debate worldwide. These writings, collected from his essays before and during the rise of Ethereum, reveal Buterin to be a vivid and imaginative writer, and this edition includes context from media studies scholar Nathan Schneider. While many around him were focused on seeing the value of their tokens rise, Buterin was working through the problems and possibilities of crafting an Internet-native world.


“It has all the aesthetic qualities of a website that someone has printed out. It is introduced and lightly edited by the media scholar Nathan Schneider, but remains largely unintelligible unless the reader already knows the story of Ethereum and the language of the cryptosphere.”—Trevor Jackson, New York Review of Books (June 8, 2023)

“Many concepts and lines of reasoning that are now part of the fabric of crypto theory got their first or most prominent airing in Buterin’s writing”—David Z. Morris, CoinDesk (November 3, 2022)

“The book is helpful, but not exactly in the way Buterin thinks.”—Patrick McGinty, Jacobin (October 22, 2022)

“Vitalik Buterin has (yet again) successfully helped to turn advanced math, cryptography, and other crypto topics that should in-all-right stay in the nerdy lane, into something that is genuinely cool.”—bridgethegap, Coinmonks (October 14, 2022)

“I … would recommend it to anyone curious about crypto in general”—Allen D. (October 14, 2022)

Lauren Goode and Gideon Lichfield, “What’s Next for Ethereum After the Merge,” Wired (September 26, 2022)

“The founder of the second most valuable cryptocurrency presents writings from across the internet”—The New York Times (September 25, 2022)

“Numerate computer whizzes are the key audience, but there’s something for lesser mortals on most pages”—Kirkus (August 11, 2022)

Andrew Thurman, “Ethereum Founder Vitalik Buterin Touts Essay Collection in ETHDenver Talk,” Coindesk (February 17, 2022)