Up until a few months ago, I had never heard of the the term blockchain, and now on 9 February, the word is everywhere, promising a new era of digital efficiency and security. Listening to ABC an interview with the CFO of the ASX? – Blockchain. Opening the weekend papers – an article explaining blockchain to punters jumps out of the early general news section. Dipping into a trend report to see what’s on the horizon? Blockchain. Blockchain is the technology that underpins bitcoin – and therein lies its problem because bitcoin is a hugely controversial concept that is viewed with suspicion by many.
Mike Gault, Founder and CEO of Guardtime, has described a blockchain as a record, or ledger, of digital events that is distributed, or shared between many different parties. It can only be updated by consensus of a majority of the participants in the system. Once entered, information can never be erased. The bitcoin blockchain contains a certain and verifiable record of every single bitcoin transaction ever made. The jury may be out on bitcoin but blockchain technology is way cool.
Says Gault, a blockchain creates a true record of events, past and present, in the digital world without compromising privacy. Users can record the fact that the event happened, and even that it happened correctly, without exposing confidential details about the subject matter or the parties involved.
And, he says, everyone is starting to get excited because of the endless possibilities… health records, voting, ownership documents, marriage licenses and lawsuits in the blockchain. Eventually, every dataset and every digital transaction could leave a “fingerprint” there, creating an audit trail for any digital event throughout history, without compromising anyone’s personal privacy. I think we will be hearing a lot more about blockchain yet.
I have worked hard to acquire even a slight understanding of blockchain because I really feel I should. Perhaps I should go to the Khan Academy to deepen my understanding. My husband did – but then he would. But thinking so deeply about all things blockchain led me to try some chain tape that I had been hoarding for a rainy wrapping day, because I am seeing the chain motif pop up every time this new technology is mentioned. I don’t wrap a lot with tape. Perhaps I should. I first saw this chain tape at a trade fair and had to buy a roll. I quite like the look for the right type of present and recipient. It takes a steady hand to roll out the tape so you don’t get creases in it but its worth the effort to send a message of high security and intrigue for whatever is inside.