It seems that from one day to the next, the media industry got the blockchain bug. Today there are events, panels, articles and conversations about how blockchain will save journalism and advertising and marketing. But before deciding whether this technology will be the savior of the media, we wanted to answer some rather basic questions. We are also introducing a weekly blockchain newsletter, which you can sign up here.
Stay with us as we go on this blockchain journey.
What's the blockchain?
Inside, a blockchain is a digital ledger shared by any number of stakeholders interested in tracking information and transactions. Everyone receives a copy of the same information distributed. Nothing can be removed And since a blockchain is a decentralized system, a consensus of stakeholders must be agreed before something is added to the ledger.
Because it promises to create a more democratic and decentralized model for data sharing, blockchain technology has the potential to improve transparency between companies, countries and individuals moving along a sort of good or service – anything from a piece of paper or a coffee bean to a financial product.
So … what is the block and where is the chain?
Whether it is bitcoin transactions or data on how a flower shipment is making its way from Senegal to the Netherlands, blocking is the mechanism that records information on the blockchain. Some people like to compare it with an Excel spreadsheet or a Google document. These blocks come together to constitute the blockchain, which is the total digital recording of transactions. Every time it is completed, you can create the next one. So far, this has been much slower than some parts of the Internet, in part because some blockchain must ensure that all parties agree before they are added to make it transparent and secure. This makes the chain the general list, a record of all transactions.
Why does the blockchain count now?
It's a combination of things. On the one hand, there is a lot of money flowing into the sector, thanks to initial public and private coin bids. (The ICOs, as they are called, are an unregulated way for companies to offer cryptocurrency to investors rather than traditional actions of shares.) On the other hand, more and more companies are starting to experiment how they could use blockchain for their own business. In fact, 40 percent of respondents in a recent Deloitte survey were willing to invest at least $ 5 million in blockchain projects this year. Some companies are using them to experiment with shipping projects; others are using them for ad networks. Then there's the giant about to enter the room. This spring, Facebook announced the creation of a blockchain group led by David Marcus, who previously managed Facebook Messenger, and Kevin Weil, who was previously the product leader of Instagram. Also Facebook has moved Evan Cheng from the director of engineering of Facebook to the director of engineering for the company's thriving blockchain division.
Are there different types of blockchain?
Yes. There are public blockchains, which are open to anyone to send transactions or to verify or observe what happens at a given time. Two of the most popular public blockchain are the Bitcoin blockchain and one for Ethereum, another cryptocurrency. There are also more recent ones, such as Aion, which debuted in April as a way to help other companies build their blockchain products and services. (TechCrunch compared what Linux did as an open source platform for operating systems.)
You also have private blockchains. These are often used for niche purposes as a company that manages data or interacts with its customers. For example, Northern Trust, the financial services company has created a solution with IBM that has been testing for more than a year to store data such as biometric information and other records. In June, he also won a patent for archiving the blockchain meeting notes.
And there is a third type: blockchain of the consortium. It is a combination of public and private, in which a blockchain is private, but it is governed in a more democratic way in which each party involved has the opportunity to say what is being added.
New types of financing, new technologies, few regulations, few cases of clear use: why is all this so confusing?
Think about the dawn of the Internet. The world of blockchain technology is still wild, Wild West. In early June 2018, the total value of initial coin offerings was already higher than in the previous year. And while last year saw a record number of ICOs, some were legitimate, but others are more sketchier. In July 2018, for example, two Nevada men solved a lawsuit from the Securities and Exchange Commission for illegally taking advantage of an ICO after earning about $ 1.4 million in 10 days by selling shares in a company called the UBI Blockchain Internet.
The sector blockchain is something that regulators and lawmakers are starting to look more closely as well. At the beginning of this year, the US Securities and Exchange Commission, in an unusually snarky way, has even created its own cryptocurrency called HowieCoin to demonstrate how easily ICOs can hide themselves as frauds. In June, the SEC appointed Valerie Szczepanik as its first "crypto-tsar", while members of Congress held more committee hearings in July to learn more about how the blockchain can be used in areas such as agriculture.