In Alice in Wonderland, the Mad Hatter famously asks “why is a raven like a writing desk?”. You may feel the same sense of confusion when you see our headline. Nowadays the word ‘blockchain’ has become a bit like ‘Hoover’ in the sense that it has become a generic term to describe a whole range of options that may not even technically be a blockchain.
It is not always easy to find the right way to define blockchain. The definition often depends on the who is asking the question – their age, level of technical expertise, professional experience and so on. And to make it even harder, the definition of blockchain itself is also constantly evolving as technology moves on and adds new layers of sophistication. So how should we define blockchain in 2020?
“an operating system for the planet”
“a shared version of the truth”
“a new mindset about how we organise business and society”
“a shared diary”
“a giant Google spreadsheet for the planet”
“the largest distributed computing project in the world”
“a distributed database that maintains a continuously growing list of records called blocks” (Vinay Gupta)
“the World Wide Ledger”
“a decentralized audit trail or bank statement”
“a truly open, distributed, global platform that fundamentally changes what we can do online, how we do it, and who can participate” (Don Tapscott)
Definitions matter because we can’t expect people to adopt and use what we can’t explain in simple terms. So what’s your favourite go-to definition of blockchain? And if you’re still not sure what a blockchain actually is – or or how best to describe it to newcomers – check out our resources page for more definitions. We are planning lots more new content in 2020 so do get in touch and tell us what you’d most like to learn about.
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