Tuesday 13 October 2020 11:00 am

The Top 7 Googled Questions on Blockchain Technology Answered!

I use Google search a lot. After more than 20 years of using Google Search, I’m pretty good at producing the results I want. Even so, one of Google’s most useful features, is Autocomplete Predictions.

On my machine (because my search history will look different to yours because of those annoying things that don’t actually go with milk – cookies) I can type in the phrase “blockchain” and then a single space and – PRESTO! – I get autocomplete suggestions:

Since these are the topics people are searching for, what better way to support the community than to provide some straightforward answers.

Blockchain Meaning / Blockchain Definition

Sure, it wasn’t the top of the list, but it will be helpful to get a simple understanding of what people mean when they say blockchain. Equally, this is one of those topics that can lead to some furious debates amongst purists, technologists – and crypto enthusiasts.

Blockchain can mean different things based on the context. Blockchain can refer to the actual data – the ledger. Blockchain can refer to the network – the group of computers that manage and maintain the data. Blockchain can mean the protocol – the software and the rules the network uses to manage the data.

Some people will use blockchain interchangeably with DLT (distributed ledger technology). DLT isn’t nearly as sexy as blockchain. Technically, all blockchain protocols are DLT. But not all DLT protocols are blockchain. Misuse of the word “blockchain” has caused no end of confusion.

But folks are gonna do what folks are gonna do. I have (almost) given up on trying to get people to use the word blockchain correctly even if we are scuppered by language.

And in the spirit of defining something by stating what it is not: Blockchain is not a cryptocurrency. Blockchain is not bitcoin. Blockchain is not something you can regulate. 

“Sadly, there is an entirely deficient focus on building business cases BEFORE deciding if blockchain is required.”

Blockchain Technology

Blockchain technology is where there is enormous interest. LinkedIn identified that blockchain is the #1 Hard Skill for 2020. The technology side of blockchain is in coding how this network of computers communicate. This covers things like keeping all of the copies of the ledger in sync, ensuring that new data added to the blockchain is allowed – and that the data is correct. The technology also covers smart contracts (small programs that run automatically and update the blockchain). This is all the ‘computer science-y’ bits of blockchain.

Blockchain has always had a thriving tech community committed to principles of open source and collaboration.

Sadly, there is an entirely deficient focus on building business cases around business problems – and then identifying the best way to apply blockchain technology. Ideally, you always want to focus on the MEB (Minimum Effective Blockchain)

Blockchain Wallet

Whether you like leather or neoprene (No. I’m not going there…) nearly everyone has a wallet. Inside your real-world wallet you typically have a bunch of credit cards, maybe some loyalty cards and possibly even some pound notes. You keep your wallet safe. And you never keep your pin codes for your credit/debit cards in your wallet. Right?

A blockchain wallet holds the equivalent of a list of your credit card numbers, your bank account and sort codes and your email addresses. It also contains your pin codes and your passwords. You may have heard these described as your public and private keys.

These public and private keys permit you to participate in all of the blockchain networks where you are a member. Some may be cryptocurrency blockchains. Others may be supply chain blockchains. You may even have a public/private key to access a property blockchain.

If you lose your wallet (without an emergency backup), then you are out of luck. There is no one to call to reset your pin code. There is no one to call to ask what your account number is. Your blockchain wallet should be treated with greater care than your physical wallet – by a factor of 10!.

Blockchain Explorer

Remember, at the beginning; I explained that blockchain could be the protocol, the network or the data in the ledger? A blockchain explorer is a piece of software that lets someone look at the data in the blockchain and make queries against that data.

You might use a blockchain explorer for example to check if a transaction has completed. Anti-fraud companies use very sophisticated blockchain explorers to trace transactions through the network to look for unusual (or outright illegal) activity.

Your blockchain wallet may have a blockchain explorer built into it. That’s how your wallet can show you a transaction history for each of your blockchain keys.

“Newsflash: Blockchain doesn’t have a login.”

Blockchain Login

Now I’m not sure what people are looking for when they search for “blockchain login”. I guess that they think that blockchain is some website and they want to know how they can log in to the blockchain.

Newsflash: You can’t. Blockchain doesn’t have a login.

Sure. Cryptocurrency exchanges have logins. Supply chain systems and other enterprise blockchain solutions have logins. Even some online blockchain wallets have logins (ProTip – having an online wallet is a terrible idea).

Blockchain itself has no login. The blockchain protocol doesn’t have a login. The blockchain ledger data has no login. And the blockchain network has no login.

Alternatively, some people could be looking for new systems that use blockchain technology for ‘secure login’. There are a number of these systems in development that allow logging in without the need to give away personal information and without using a password. It’s still very early days for this application of the technology.

Blockchain DNS & Blockchain Cyber Security

Now, these two suggestions are interesting. These tell me that the top two areas of interest for product development in blockchain are cybersecurity and DNS. Curiously (or not) I have already written about each of these: Cyber Security / DNS.

I think that both of these are super exciting areas and there are a wide range of (in all honesty, really terrible) solutions in the market currently.

So many people completely misunderstand and abuse the core principles of blockchain. But hey – At least they’re trying.

Over time, the real winners in applying blockchain to aspects of cybersecurity and DNS correctly will bubble up to the surface, and that will be super interesting.

And even though you didn’t ask: One of my favourite topics and use cases in blockchain is the ongoing development in the area of self-sovereign identity (SSI)

So, there you have it. All in a single article. Everything you needed to know on the top 7 Predictive Autocompletes for “blockchain“ queries!

Let me know in the comments which ones in your predictive autocomplete that I missed!

Get in touch with us info@blockchainrookies.com / Twitter @troy_norcross

Troy Norcross, Co-Founder Blockchain Rookies

Twitter: @troy_norcross