beanz Magazine

What is the Blockchain?

Bernard Spragg on Flickr

Blockchain software technology works as a distributed ledger to record what was done and when.

If someone asked your age thousands of years ago, there often was no way to prove the day or year of your birth. In many places the local church or temple would register the date you were received into the religion and the date you died. If you bought land, a house, or a farm, a record would be made made at the town or city hall.

Today, despite computers, recording basic facts of our lives mostly follow these ancient patterns. Computers make the data more accurate and easy to find, of course. But in theory it is still possible to lose a record or file an inaccurate record. And compiling a list of events over time often requires tapping into several databases to create a master list of events in their correct order.

Blockchain technology is designed to solve this simple problem of recording transactions and events in order as they happen and in a way that cannot be changed.

You might have heard of Bitcoin, the electronic currency, and possibly blockchain which is a critical component of Bitcoin and other digital currencies. However, blockchain turns out to have many uses beyond financial transactions.

In simplest terms, a blockchain is what it sounds like, a block or ledger that records a chain of events. These events could be life events — birth, marriage, death — or voting or property transactions or really any human interaction that requires both a record of when the event happened and in what order. Plus the records must be difficult or impossible to change.

 

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