This post tries to describe two very different uses for blockchain technology: Digital Token Ledgers that record ownership changes of digital tokens, and Activity Registers that record timestamped proofs of existence of data or agreements about data. Bitcoin is used for both.
I have heard this comment many times:
“Blockchain” is a solution looking for a problem.
That is incorrect – here’s the problem statement, originally articulated in 2008:
The problem statement, to paraphrase, is
“How do people pay each other electronically without being at the behest of Financial Institutions?”
The proposed solution is:
This article attempts to explain the difference between the revolutionary disruptive innovation of bitcoin and the evolutionary efficiency innovations of industry workflow tools, and why calling them both “blockchains”, even as a generic term, is incredibly confusing.
For the rest of this post, I will use the phrase “industry workflow tools” instead of industry blockchains, as some of the emerging solutions being proposed in this space are not blockchains (eg, R3’s Corda is not a blockchain but Digital Asset’s solutions are – however, both companies are proposing industry workflow tools).
I have been looking for a one pager explaining the difference between users, miners, nodes and other participants on the bitcoin network. I couldn’t find one so I attempted to draw my own. Here it is.
Click on the image for a high-resolution copy you can download, share, copy and print.
Feedback very welcome!
I enjoyed listening to episode 107 of the podcast “Epicenter Bitcoin” where Gideon Greenspan, CEO and Founder of Coin Sciences was interviewed about MultiChain. Gideon also writes a great blog. Here are my notes on parts of the podcast that I found particularly interesting. Misunderstandings and paraphrasing errors are mine.
Note: The term ‘miner’ is used frequently in the podcast but I try to refer to them here as block-makers or block-adders.
In the context of data security, the immutability of data stored on blockchains is important. What do people mean when they say “Blockchains are immutable”? In this post I try to explain the key concepts.
Digital tokens have come to the fore recently, firstly with excitement about cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin, then with digital tokens being used to represent different assets on a blockchain. What are they? How can you digitise a token? Why is it important?
When I hear the word ‘token’ I think of round plastic things like a casino chip, or something which I can use to exchange for a beer under a specific system or in a specific marketplace.
We will explore the original usage of the phrase ‘digital token’, then take a look into the world of cryptocurrency tokens, differentiating between blockchain-native tokens like BTC on Bitcoin or ETH on Ethereum, and asset-backed tokens like IOUs on Ripple.