After spending two years researching blockchain and the evolution of advanced ledger technologies, I still find a great spread of understanding across my clients and business at large about blockchain. While ledger superpowers like Hyperledger, IBM, Microsoft and R3 are emerging, there remains a long tail of startups trying to innovate on the first generation public blockchains. Most of the best-selling blockchain books confine themselves to Bitcoin, and extrapolate its apparent magic into a dizzying array of imagined use cases. And I’m continuously surprised to find people who are only just hearing about blockchain now.
For all sorts of specialists, it can seem that everyone is talking about blockchain and ledger technologies, but the truth is most people are not yet up to speed. No one should be shy to ask what blockchain is really all about.
Many blockchain primers and infographics dive into the cryptography, trying to explain to lay people how “consensus algorithms”, “hash functions” and digital signatures all work. In their enthusiasm, they can speed past the fundamental question of what blockchain was really designed to do. I’ve long been worried about a lack of critical thinking around blockchain and the activity it’s inspired. If you want to be able to pick the wheat from the chaff in this area, you really only need to know what blockchain does, and not how it does it.
So I’ve tried to write a fresh and uncomplicated explanation of what blockchain can do and what it cannot do. You can down load the report Blockchain Explained in Plain English here.