Blockchain: the single most confusing term since Bitcoin. Everyone has a vague idea of what it does. It’s either the ultimate evolution of financial technologies, or a silly fad that can be summed up in the disconcerting phrase: “dogechain.” In reality, major companies around the world have already shown favor to the burgeoning money exchange system and it may become harder and harder to stay away from the financial dark art.
In reality, it is all relatively easy to understand. The Blockchain is a public ledger where transactions are recorded and confirmed anonymously. It’s a record of events that is shared between many parties. More importantly, once information is entered, it cannot be altered. So, if the blockchain is the public record, what is being recorded? What are all of these “transactions”?
Cryptocurrencies, like bitcoin, are currencies that exist solely in digital. There are no physical golden coins with a big “B” on them. Moreover, owning these non-real coins entails a new idea of “ownership.” You don’t literally have it in your hands, or even in your bank account, but you have the ability to transfer “ownership” to someone else simply by creating a record in the blockchain. Rather than using bills, your transfer is pure data.
Where exactly is this chain located? Due to the open nature of cryptocurrencies, and the importance of the public having access to other blocks, the blockchain isn’t located on just one guy’s large computer. For example, the bitcoin blockchain is actually managed by distributed nodes. These nodes all have a copy of the entire blockchain. Nodes will forever come and go, synchronizing their own copies of the chain with those of other users. By distributing copies and access, the chain can’t simply “go down,” or disappear. It’s a decentralized system that is both sturdy and secure.
There are many reasons people are falling in love with cryptocurrencies: it’s anonymous! .
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