6 things you NEED to know about blockchain.
If you know anything about blockchain, then you know it's the underlying technology behind bitcoin and other crypto currencies. If you know two things, then you know it's one of the most talked about, and mysterious technologies in tech today. Here's a few things that you need to know about this technology and why it's shaking up the tech industry.
Cover photo from: https://flic.kr/p/vPGcvw
1. Blockchain is a catch-all term for many similar distributed ledger database systems.
In fact there isn't an agreed definition of 'Blockchain' ... Yet. It's being worked on by scientific and academic institutions so that the Tech industry can have a standard to work from. The word itself was made up after the technology had hit the world stage. The original paper describes it instead as "a chain of blocks."
2. Bitcoin and crypto currencies are not it's only use.
Although crypto currencies are what it's most well known for, distributed ledger database is far more useful than just payment systems. Global Election Services (for example) is using this technology to provide open and secure election processes. It's also being used to track diamonds, verify provenance of organic and other specialty products, track the fingerprint of digital media files online.
3. Australia's CSRIO has a research unit dedicated to blockchain technology: Data 61.
Okay, so Data 61 isn't ~exclusively~ researching blockchain, but that is one of it's high priorities. Data 61 is looking at implementations where there are multiple parties vested in information security. With so much growth and change in this field, they are looking at how local communities and Australian firms can best benefit in this space.
4. Investment in distributed ledger startups is growing.
Over 1.1 Billion US dollars have already been invested in startups alone, not counting the government and private company internal investments, or the open source communities contributions. Most major investment firms have acquired slices of these small startups, they know disruption is coming, but when and where is the big question.
5. There are many flavors of blockchain in development to solve different problems.
If you do use bitcoin, then you probably know it can take a long time for some transactions to process. There are development and research going on all over the globe to modify the original technology into more efficient ways to achieve the same goals. Such as faster transaction, larger data blocks and easier access. Each of these will likely grow to fill gaps in a world hungry for these open technologies.
6. Blockchain is NOT changing everything.
This may be a shock to some people, but blockchain wont be showing up at your grocery store cash register any time soon. Even with the developments I just mentioned, this is really only useful when there are multiple parties that need to ensure trust relationships on an equal footing. And buying milk and bread isn't likely one of those transactions.