Anyone reading this has heard the term “blockchain”. Well WTF is one? Do I need one? Can it help me become a more fulfilled person? Can it help me deliver morning papers? Can I add one to my business to make it better?
A blockchain is information that is shared on a collection of computers. So each computer has a copy of the information.
Bitcoin, the world's most famous blockchain technology works in this way, with lots of computers (15k for Bitcoin as of April 22) around the world. When a change to the information transaction occurs it is started on one computer and then passed to the others. (This is quite simplified, geek out here). Each computer keeps a copy of the transaction, this can never be changed -
Geek term for unchangeable - immutable.
Geek term for the computer - a node
Comparing this to a more standard way of holding information, in a database. This database is usually controlled by one organisation on one or more computers. And in many cases the technology allows the data to be changed after it is stored.
The clear differences are the ownership of the information and whether it can be changed.
So why does everything you read about now need to be on a blockchain? Some recent examples
“Restuarant on a Blockchain”
“Blockchain pets in Sanfransico”
“Lovers met on a blockchain”
I made these up, though having not googled them they might exist and someone in Silicon Valley might have put millions into them. Some blockchain projects make great use of the tech, some are interesting and some are just plain crap. It's hard to tell one from the other at the outset.
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