Over the past 5 years, venture capitalists have invested over a billion dollars in Blockchain, the technology re-coding the rules on digital currency with innovation and transparency. With Blockchain valued at a level equivalent to Apple’s purchase of Beats by Dre, even Netscape co-founder Mark Andreesen calls Blockchain “…a fundamental invention in the history of computer science.” That’s all great…but what is it?
In a nutshell, Blockchain is a series of interlinked electronic records called “blocks,” which are updated and versioned in a “chain” of safeguarded verifications. Not to be confused with Blogchain (a string of online journals created for an audience of nobody), Blockchain is the platform supporting Bitcoin, a newly-minted electronic tender used exclusively by the world’s online Sudoku community.
Blockchain (and therefore Bitcoin) has been hailed as the next generation of the Internet. But with a logarithmic rise in popularity, decoding the 1’s and 0’s of the matrix can be problematic. So, to help you understand this new cocktail party conversation topic, I spent a token amount of research time and filled-in the blanks.
Blockchain is an open-source record of transactions and data stored across a worldwide network of computers. The technology’s trustworthiness is based on verifiable information: updates to the “blocks” are validated by actual people, who like a cadre of human captcha, solve actual math equations every 10 minutes. Blockchain was first developed in 10,000 B.C., when bankers at Neolithic Financial carved-out Stonechain, a rudimentary authentication of cavern-based fur trades. Due to unsecure accounts with passwords like Nomadand Fire123, R&D for this primitive crucible ground to a halt. Eventually, a better platform was designed with a maze of small dots, high score indicator, and baddies named Inky, Blinky, Pinky, and Clyde.
The Bit on Bitcoin
Bitcoin, an emerging cryptocurrency, is one of over 700 applications using the Blockchain OS. This computerized cash was invented by a person (or persons…the world actually isn’t sure) working under the name Satoshi Nakamoto. With initial funding in 2009 from a joint venture between Skynet Capital and Teddy Ruxpin Technologies, Bitcoin’s value has skyrocketed: 1 Bitcoin trades at $4,333.91 CAD, or the cost of a cab from YYC to the Banff Springs Hotel. Bitcoin can be traded in currencies like Canadian Tire money, and is stored in digital leather-pressed wallets with beaver logos available at select Roots locations now through Sunday.
Every 10 minutes, worldwide programmers known as “Miners” solve tricky math problems to certify the legitimacy of self-generating records of recent transactions in the chain. With Bitcoin incentivizing participation, Miners can join the party, but only if their computers are more powerful than the Coinstar at Loblaws. But this new level of financial market cooperation isn’t without challenges: instead of solving complex algorithms, Bitcoin Miners must disentangle a more intricate scenario:
Two trains, one leaving Ottawa and the other leaving Montreal, head towards Toronto at different speeds. The train leaving Ottawa is carrying a group of regional account reps and individual contributors; the train from Montreal is hauling a blended team of creative directors and client-side brand managers. The Ottawa train is traveling at 145 km/h, while the Montreal train is speeding along at 130 km/h. How far from each city do they meet?
The most transparent ingredient in the Blockchain recipe is a global Ledger, updated and posted every time a new update is verified. Viewable by anyone in the world, deciphering the spreadsheet can be foggier than navigating the Salesforce home page. And similar to clicking “Like” on a friend’s Facebook event page, Blockchain Ledgers can’t be amended. I mean, you can’t “Unlike” a friend’s Facebook event page, because who knows: maybe they’ll get a notification that you “Unliked” the page and take it personally. I mean, who knows! Maybe we’re just trying to weed-out the 150 event pages we’ve all “Liked” on Facebook and just wanna put an end to the endless notifications for that 1-off event in Saskatoon. It’s not like you’re not a good person, right? That’s Blockchain.
In Block We Trust
Eventually capable of global wealth redistribution through Bitcoin, Blockchain builds trust, authenticity, reliability…and, thanks to this article, total clarity. One day Blockchain might verify birth records, votes, even TV preferences saved on your AppleTV.
Though Blockchain won’t be powerful enough to unearth the benefits of LinkedIn Premium, one thing’s for sure: with The Right Stuff, Blockchain will be Hangin’ Tough, Step by Step.
Wait, that’s New Kids on the Block Chain. Sorry.