Kind of a big deal. You’d have to be a total square not to have heard about them. Me? I’ve got eight.
Often over-complicated, over-mysticised, over-singularised (I don’t even know what the right word for it is, but people say The Blockchain a lot). What are they? Join me for a rough tour from the ground up and I’ll try to make sure you leave here knowing the answer to one question:
What are people talking about when they talk about blockchains?
There’s a lot to cover, so it’s actually going to come in two parts. This, the first, will look at the data structures known as blockchains and their properties, along with any other bits and pieces you need to make sense of them.
The second part will apply what you’ve learnt to the practical and widespread applications of blockchains to power distributed ledgers, cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin and Litecoin and smart-contract based chains like Etherium.
Documentation is available for the python interface library.
Additionally, a demonstration Notebook is available in the Notebooks folder.
For installation instructions, see below. More detailed documentation is coming soon. Meanwhile, feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This guide is meant to serve as both an easy-to-understand introduction to the world of cryptocurrencies as well as an insightful view into the different projects competing for your investments and market dominance and a look at the underlying technology, history and trends.
For many years Bitcoin would occasionally appear in the media after it spiked in price. I didn’t think there was anything inherently useful about it. I thought it was a novelty, a ponzi scheme, hysteria. It was only after the most recent price spike in another cryptocurrency, Ethereum, that the crazy returns finally tempted me. What started out as a skeptical look into a get-rich-quick scheme led me down a rabbit hole and my mind was promptly blown at the potential of the technology. The hype surrounding it is nothing short of mania, but it’s not without merit. Cryptocurrencies will almost certainly revolutionize everything from insurance, logistics and the stock market to ownership and even create entire economies which don’t currently exist. You may feel skeptical when hearing something so optimistic but when banks, governments and research institutions start to take notice and want to work with these projects maybe it’s time we paid some attention.
Many of you reading may be likening the current craze with the dotcom bubble and I’m afraid I absolutely agree with you. The speculation surrounding cryptocurrencies and the ease of which the average person can invest has created an environment where an idea can raise hundreds of millions of dollars without even a proof of concept. This is part of the reason this guide was written, to steer you clear of these massively overvalued “pet.com” equivalents and towards the future Amazons and Googles.
Is blockchain technology the new internet?
The blockchain is an undeniably ingenious invention – the brainchild of a person or group of people known by the pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto.
By allowing digital information to be distributed but not copied, blockchains create the backbone of a new type of internet. Originally devised for the digital currency, Bitcoin, the tech community is now finding other potential uses for the technology.
Bitcoin has been called “digital gold”, and for good reason. To date, the total value of currency is close to $9 billion US. And blockchains can make other types of digital value. Like the internet (or your car), you don’t need to know how the blockchain works to use it. However, having a basic knowledge of this new technology shows why it’s considered revolutionary.
“The blockchain is an incorruptible digital ledger of economic transactions that can be programmed to record not just financial transactions but virtually everything of value.”
“One reason bitcoin can be confusing for beginners is that the technology behind it redefines the concept of ownership.
To own something in the traditional sense, be it a house or a sum of money, means either having personal custody of the thing or granting custody to a trusted entity such as a bank.
With bitcoin the case is different. Bitcoins themselves are not stored either centrally or locally and so no one entity is their custodian. They exist as records on a distributed ledger called the block chain, copies of which are shared by a volunteer network of connected computers. To “own” a bitcoin simply means having the ability to transfer control of it to someone else by creating a record of the transfer in the block chain. What grants this ability? Access to an ECDSA private and public key pair. What does that mean and how does that secure bitcoin?
Let’s have a look under the hood…”