Compulsory Blockchain Post


The new buzzword of 2017 and 2018 – Blockchain! The technology is being touted to solve everything and disrupt every industry, but what really is under the hood and why should you care? I spent a lot of time thinking about the technology and what’s real and what’s hype…and hopefully this post will help you better understand why the technology does hold so much promise.

Without going into the details of the technology (there are many posts that do that amazingly) I wanted to spend some time arguing why the hype is understandable and why the technology could change a lot of workflows and industries as we know it. To better explain that – I want to take a step back and explain two different technologies and how they can help better understand blockchain.

The Linux operating system has allowed the cloud (as we know it) to be built. Google, Netflix, Amazon, Salesforce, etc. all owe their companies to the linux operating system and the many abstractions it has built in. By building on top of linux, the founders were able to focus their energy on building out the product. Could they have built their companies on different operating systems? Sure – linux is one of many. But multiple built in tools (and the open license) allowed a much easier path for them to build on top of Linux.

Map-reduce was invented by Larry Page and Sergey Brin. The algorithm and process was a novel way of working with big data and created an efficient way to count occurrences in a larger, unstructured dataset. The Map-Reduce framework was pivotal in allowing Google to create it’s PageRank algorithm that has revolutionized internet search. The breakthrough created a novel way to work with data and changed the industry.

I bring up Linux and Map-reduce, because Blockchain is almost analogous to a combination of the two technologies. Blockchain has many open-source repos and has created a type of operating system that other developers can easily build on top of, since it has abstracted away important aspects. At the same time, similar to Map-reduce, it has invented a novel new mechanism to create a distributed ledger where trust and validation is built into the process. Do you have to use blockchain for your application (like patient records), not necessarily…but it’s a lot easier to build on top of the technology and will allow for a much quicker process.

I’m very bullish about blockchain and the future, and while not fully caught up in the hype – do think some very interesting applications will be rolled out in the next year.

Hope this explanation helps!