With the attention garnered by Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies over the past 3 or 4 years, blockchain technology has come more to the mainstream consciousness than ever before. Users of computer services in Ottawa ought to know about the technology that has been hailed by some as “the most important technology since the internet”, but what exactly is the blockchain and where did it come from? The purpose of this article series is to provide customers of IT companies in Ottawa, an introduction to the world of the blockchain.
The blockchain is a relatively simple concept with powerful implications for both clients and providers of tech support in Ottawa. Although renowned for its use in Bitcoin, blockchain has a broad range of applications beyond cryptocurrencies. The concept of the blockchain has been around since the early 90’s, but the idea was bestowed with a practical application in 2008. Someone (or a group of people) under the pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto wrote a paper detailing Bitcoin, which used the blockchain as a way of tracking and validating transactions involving the cryptocurrency. The rest, as they say, is history. Bitcoin has become a goliath online and in real life, there is no other currency that gets as much media attention, crypto or otherwise. But what is the blockchain technology that underlies the success of Bitcoin?
The blockchain is a decentralized digital record that is shared between individual nodes on a peer-to-peer network. Within this network, nodes validate each record through complex computations (proof-of-work), and the “highest” rated block is then added to the blockchain. And what is a block? A block is simply a batch of records. Another driving force behind the blockchain is a removal of the need for a trusted third party to ensure the transaction’s integrity. In traditional financial transactions, this third party would be an institution such as a bank, which places a temporary hold on the funds to be transferred and places it in escrow until the end of the exchange of goods/services. The mechanism by which blockchain technology eliminates the need for a trusted third party will be explained in the next chapter in this series, How does blockchain work?
So what does this mean for users of managed services in Ottawa and beyond? it means that there is a new technology that can revolutionize any form of transaction or exchange between 2 parties where a third party would traditionally be involved. If an enterprise were to develop a new technology and wanted to ensure that they are officially the rights holders. Instead of the grueling patent application process, they could submit an application to a patent blockchain and be the official rights holders in a matter of minutes. Business users of IT consulting in Ottawa would certainly benefit from a quick search of a trustworthy, publicly available ledger to check the validity of their potential employee’s qualifications. Many more applications for the blockchain will be explored later on in this series.