originally published for Black Girl in the CLE
By now if you are a resident of The Land, you may or may not have heard of Blockchain. Those in the tech space throw this buzzword around like it’s the best thing since slice bread. But Denise, I’m not a technologist, so why should I understand what is or even care about Blockchain. After reading this I hope you know more about Blockchain and understand how this will definitely impact you in the near future.
Let’s begin with some terminology that is often used when explaining Blockchain:
Cryptocurrency: a payment network built by using blockchain technology.
Bitcoin: the first trial of creating a form of payment with the blockchain technology where no one was in control, no law and no regulations.
Decentralized: moving away from storing information in a single place to having information in multiple places
Distributed Ledger Technology: a shared log of transactions which allows a community of users to collaborate without having to trust each other. It allows for transparency, authentication and auditing.
Cryptography: a form of math (number and probability theory) that ensures a record cannot be changed or counterfeited by anyone else.
Smart Contracts: a digital contract (built using code) as a way to ensure an exchange between parties for items such as money, property, shares or anything of value allowing for transparency and no need for a middle man such as lawyer or a notary. Smart Contracts can define the rules and penalties in the contract in the same way that a traditional contract does, but also automatically enforce those obligations.
Enough with the jargon, What is Blockchain?
Blockchain is a ledger of transactions or “blocks.” They are similar to the log that the bank keeps of all your transactions, but instead of keeping this log only with your bank many copies are distributed among computers all over the world and automatically updating with every transaction.
Every 10 minutes, all the transactions conducted are verified, cleared, and stored in a block which is linked to the preceding block, thus creating a chain. Each block must refer to the previous block to be considered valid. This structure permanently time-stamped and stores exchanges of value, preventing anyone from changing the ledger.
This system allows for the log to always be up to date. Each person involved can have a copy of the log, great for health care records, and the logs are 100% verified.
Currently maintaining blockchain takes a lot of work, no one person’s job is to do the work instead the system would pay out cryptocurrency (fee) to those who volunteer to do the work. Can we say verifying blocks on the blockchain could be a new sidehustle?
So why should you care?
Maybe you’re a consumer who wants to know where the produce you purchased really came from. Maybe you want to have all your medical records from all the providers and hospitals stored in one place, or you don’t have to rely on the hospital to send or get your records. Maybe you are a citizen who is tired of the lack of transparency and accountability of political leaders in your local neighborhood or nationally, or a consumer of social media who values your privacy and believes that all the data you generate could be worth something to you. Every day someone is coming up with some innovative way to apply blockchain from content management to verifying counterfeit shoes. This is only the beginning.
Still confused? Learn more about Blockchain here
If you are interested in knowing more about Blockchain, be on the lookout for our follow up post about our attendance at the Blockland Conference, Cleveland’s premier conference on everything blockchain happening December 1-4 at the Huntington Convention Center.