Blockchain

An Overview

Block 0 (genesis): Overview

The Blockchain is a term that has come to mean many things to many people. For developers, it is a set of protocols and encryption technologies for securely storing data on a distributed network. For business and finance, it is a distributed ledger and the technology underlying the explosion of new digital currencies. For technologists, it is the driving force behind the next generation of the Internet. For others, it is a tool for radically reshaping society and economy taking us into a more decentralized world.

Whichever way you look at it, blockchain has become a term that captures the imagination and fascinates many, as the implications of such technology are truly profound. For the first time in human history, people anywhere can trust each other and transact within large peer-to-peer networks without centralized management. Trust is established, not by centralized institutions, but by protocols, cryptography and computer code. This greatly strengthens our capacity for collaboration and cooperation between organizations and individuals within peer networks, enabling us to potentially form global networks of collaboration without centralized formal institutions; unprecedented but hugely relevant in an age of globalization and a new set of 21st-century challenges that require mass collaboration.

The blockchain is a complex technological, economic and social phenomenon. It calls into question what might have seemed to be established parameters of the modern world like currency, economics, trust, value, and exchange. To make sense of this one needs to understand it in a holistic context all the way from its technicalities to its aspirational potential, this blogpost series is designed to do exactly that, by giving an 360 degree overview to the different dimensions of the technology, its potential application within various industries and its far-reaching implications for society and economy.

In the first part of this blogpost series we are going to give an overview to the blockchain both on a technical and nontechnical level we are also going to discuss the importance of the blockchain within the context of the emerging next generation Internet. In the second part we are going to talk about the blockchain as a so call “trust machine” and how it enables transparency and collaboration, we are going to look at distributed ledger technology, talking about smart contracts, Ethereum, and decentralized applications. In the third part we are going to introduce you to the workings of token economies illustrating how the blockchain and distributed ledgers can work to build vibrant ecosystems through the use of tokens to incentivize behavior. In the last part of the series, we are are going to look at specific applications of the blockchain to economy, society, technology, and environment, looking at both existing practical applications and potential future applications.

The blockchain is a so called emerging technology that is currently experiencing very rapid evolution, within the space of just two or three years it has already gone through changes in its technical implementation and our understanding of what it is and can be, have already changed significantly in just this brief time. As such our aim is to future proof this blogpost series by not dwelling excessively on existing technical implementations but presenting more a conceptual understanding of the blockchain within the broader process of change of the emerging next generation Internet.

The blockchain is much more than a technology it is also a culture and community that is passionate about creating a more equitable world through decentralization, it is a movement to disrupt the disruptors, to redesign the internet and in so doing shake up existing centralized incumbents. Throughout the series, we are going to introduce you to this culture and its aspirations.

The blogpost series is non-technical in nature, it is on an introductory level and thus all terms will be explained. It should be accessible to anyone with a basic understanding of Web Technologies and Economics.

Blockchain Course by Complexity Labs, used under CC BY 3.0