The word "Blockchain" is a "semantic desert" that we should abandon

The word

Blockchain has moved from a niche technological tool to a familiar term. You see it in TV commercials for IBM. You see it in the cryptocurrency discussions. Nic Carter of Castle Island Ventures and, however, believes that the word "blockchain" is a "semantic desert". Blockchain is so overused that it has become meaningless.

In a report published today, Carter highlighted a number of problems with the term "blockchain". Because of these problems, Carter believes we should abandon the deadline.

Nic Carter has a number of serious problems with the term, including the fact that it is used to refer to a wide range of things from across the industry, including things that are not strictly related to the blockchain:

"… the term persists, an empty semantic shell, kept alive by thousands of press releases, transmitting the least possible meaning.While beyond the point of no return, the term is used to refer simultaneously to projects, structures and databases that they have practically nothing in common, so the attempts to define it are hopeless, general failures.In this post, I will try to explain the origin of "blockchain" and what we should do about it. "

The origins of the term Blockchain

Satoshi Nakamoto created the first popular and widely used "list of links", explains Carter. However, Satoshi Nakamoto never referred to the bitcoin system as a blockchain.

Instead, documents such as the bitcoin white paper refer to bitcoin as a "chain of work tests based on hash" or a "chain of blocks" or "timechain" (a term not used in the white paper but in the original code bitcoin codebase)).

So no, Satoshi Nakamoto did not technically invent the term blockchain, but Satoshi referred to bitcoin as a "chain of blocks", so it was easy for users to jump into the blockchain.

People who abuse the term "blockchain" mask their ignorance

Carter believes that the blockchain has become a panacea for all sorts of innovations in the crypto industry. The platforms are blockchain. The cryptocurrencies are blockchains. Private databases are blockchain.

That's why he believes that people who abuse the blockchain – especially in a general context and without qualifications – are more likely:

  • Well-meaning people forced by convention to use "sub-linguistic language tools"
  • People who are a little confused and try to disguise their ignorance with technobabble
  • People trying to take the position of experts in an industry that realistically has no experts

It is wrong to limit the bitcoin to a chain of blocks

Carter not only has a problem with the way the blockchain is ignored; it also has a problem with how bitcoin is reduced to a single technological innovation.

If you ask someone what makes bitcoin innovative, they might tell you it's blockchain. This makes it seem blockchain it is the only reason behind the success of bitcoin.

Carter contests this notion with a clever analogy:

"If I could get you to take away something from this piece, it's that referring to Bitcoin as a blockchain is like referring to the car as a transmission."

Yes, blockchain is a key element of the system. However, it is one of the many components that make great blockchain:

"Bitcoin is based on a linked list, in fact, but it is also based on a p2p network, an open source and leaderless project, a replicated database, a self-sufficient incentive system, a heavier chain consent rule, and a test scheme. of work (PoW) which gives block proposals an unmatchable cost. (An unmanageable cost in simple terms: it is impossible to falsify a block request – you should have assigned a good part of the computing power (energy) to the activity It is therefore difficult to create new Bitcoins, but it is easy for anyone to verify that you have worked hard on it.) "

All of these qualities make Bitcoin unique, and are some of the reasons that bitcoin changed the world since its launch in 2009.

"I can not tell you exactly what the bitcoin is, but limiting it to a chain of blocks is reductive to the extreme."

Blockchain is not the bitcoin's soul. It is just a part of the bitcoin which makes it exceptional.

What is a better solution? Which term should we use?

Carter insists that users should be more honest when they talk about blockchain. Do not rely on order words to define your product.

"To the licensed / business blockchainers: be honest about what you are building and in your marketing! If you are building a database controlled by a consortium of pre-authorized entities, do not pretend or imply that it will have system-like reliability features. designed to live in much more contradictory environments. "

In other words, do not call your private and authorized database as a blockchain when it is not.

At the same time, Carter says computer scientists should stop teasing non-technical people to use the term "blockchain". Non-technical people may not know the specific meaning of the blockchain. However, the term & # 39;blockchain"He came to understand the whole system – economic and social – rather than the structure of the technical data.

Finally, regulators are advised not to define blockchain or create specific regulations for blockchain technology:

"You will fail, not because of your lack of cunning, but because the blockchain is so semantically dispersed as to be undefinable."

Any normative policy will have to be specific enough to be useful, but also general enough to encompass all the different blockchain-like systems. Good luck creating these regulations.

"Please join me in spurning blockchain on every occasion"

Ultimately, Carter sums up his post with a simple request: that we should stop using the term "blockchain" on every occasion.

"Let's try and conceive new terms that are specific enough to be useful and give justice to their referents".

Carter, for example, refers to networks without authorization as bitcoins as "public blockchains".

What do you think about it? Should we start phasing out the term "blockchain" to refer to everything in our industry? Or is the term "blockchain" suitable for its purpose?

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