Blockchains as p2p cloud computers enforcing a set of rules.

At ConsenSys, we were discussing different ways to explain blockchains & smart contracts. It’s an ever changing battle to describe & invent new language/descriptions. For example, using the term “cryptocurrency” to define Ethereum doesn’t represent the full scale of it.

Colleague, Niran Babalola, described it quite eloquently (bold is my emphasis):

I explain blockchains as peer-to-peer cloud computers that collectively enforce a set of rules on a historical record that they create together. If the rules meet your needs, you can use the blockchain’s history as the source of truth for any information you want because no one can break those rules. Bitcoin’s rules define a currency: how are new tokens produced, how many are allowed, how they can be transferred from one person to another, etc. Ethereum’s rules define a process for defining new rules. This makes it a universal blockchain where rules for any interaction can be defined, and anyone can choose whether to treat its historical record as their source of truth.

This is timeous, as I’ve personally been thinking about approaching & explaining it from a completely different perspective. We seem to be creating mental models of this technology from where it came from: databases, cryptography, Bitcoin, finance & not fully explaining it from a top-down perspective.

Ethereum, more and more being described as a “world computer”, helps to elucidate it. What does a computer do? It *does* finance, but that’s not the only thing. It runs everything.

“Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in cryptocurrency country anymore.”

Simon de la Rouviere

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