Jennifer Ekstrand

Stuff I'm Learning: Blockchain

A braid of data
Distributed consensus
Lashing hash to hash

Where have I seen this concept?

Everywhere, mostly Twitter, mostly regarding bitcoin.

What's the gist?

A blockchain is a way of storing a series of information transactions such that the record of each new information transaction (block) includes a timestamp and a hash--a (likely unique) mathy nickname--of the previous block to tie it together (into a chain). The storage is distributed (rather than centralized), and multiple people/computers can contribute and/or verify transactions.

Why does it matter?

It was developed as the basis for the cryptocurrency bitcoin, and its fundamental contributions seem to be technologically establishing trust (so you don't have to know or trust the other parties to trust the transaction)--especially doing so in a distributed way (removing the need for a centralized clearinghouse). It resists tampering while maintaining some privacy features. This could have applications for financial transactions (beyond bitcoin), contracts, voting, or intellectual property.

Further Reading:

Also, thanks to Michael for sharing his understanding with me.

Note: I'm making an effort to expose the growth/learning side of my knowledge--improving understanding should be exciting not embarrassing (because I didn't already "get" blockchains)! I would like this to turn into a long-term series. This is NOT an attempt to be an authoritative source that delves into nuance, complexity, and controversy.

I don't know it all
So I want to learn and share
Not just smile and nod