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What is blockchain and how does it work?

Jonathan Hassell | April 15, 2016
Bitcoin exploded on to the world’s stage in 2012 as a currency backed by everyone and controlled by no one. But what exactly makes it work from a technology standpoint?

“As a broad, open initiative inclusive of many different blockchain experts, the Hyperledger Project will advance the open blockchain standard for uses across many industries,” says Jerry Cuomo, vice president blockchain, IBM. “By focusing on an open platform, there’s no limit to the types of applications and frameworks that will one day be built on top of it.”

Of course there are practical limits to this. “The problem with practical applications to Blockchain is that it’s quite hard to find projects that are genuinely good fits,” says Reynolds. “There’s a lot of ‘I have a hammer, so this must be a nail’ thinking around Blockchain. It’s best suited for scenarios where the data itself is public, but that you don’t want to have to explicit give trust to entities to update the data. Regulatory or public applications tend to fit well into this.”

With that said, there is clearly a place for building a foundation for distributed ledger-based ecommerce in the Internet landscape today. In a keynote at The Block Chain Conference in San Francisco in February, IBM’s Global Blockchain Offering Director John Wolpert says, “You need a fabric that allows for lots of competition on platforms and huge competition on solutions. We need to evolve the Internet to become economically aware and this Internet is not going to be an application, it will be a fabric.” And he sees Hyperledger as the project that’s putting the best of breed technologies together to build this fabric. 

 

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