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What is the blockchain? The facts behind the Cleveland technological word

CLEVELAND – Blockchain has been the word of order lately – in the meeting rooms and beyond in the Northeast of Ohio. What the hell is it? And what could it do for all of us?

"You do not usually see a tech person waking up one morning and saying," You know what, I'm moving to Cleveland! "It's not just a thing," said Eric Wise, CEO of DriveIT at Akron. But would not it be nice?

What if Northeastern Ohio could be the next Silicon Valley? This is the idea behind Blockland, that our region could be a center for blockchain. Blockchain is a compound word: a growing list of records, or blocks, timestamped and linked to others to form a chain in a decentralized database. This way of storing and sharing information, involving all types of transactions, can make it more transparent, faster and cheaper.

"Blockchain is a shared ledger to keep track of things, which is the easiest way to think about it," said Eric Ward, DriveIT's chief learning officer.

It was invented for the first time in 2008 to verify bitcoin transactions. Now, companies all over the world are trying to figure out how it could help them. Because it's quick to search and hard to hack, it could be used for medical records, home and car titles, even for voting.

The Blockland Solutions conference starts Saturday through Tuesday at the Huntington Convention Center. The conference is the first effort of a community-wide movement to embrace the blockchain as an emerging technology industry, which could bring business and work to the region.

More than 1,300 people are already registered, and the organizers are hoping for a walk-up at the beginning. You can learn more here.

"They were not teaching this at the end of the 90s in computer science," said Elizabeth Brooks. He signed Blockchain 101 on DriveIT. Blockchain could create more technological jobs in the region for people like Elizabeth who already have the skills or could learn them.

"Listen, blockchain, do you think that's what it means?" He said. She and Jeff Barlow founded Nimble Services in 2016, a startup that uses technology for legal and human resource needs. Blockchain could provide some solutions and Blockland's effort has caught their attention.

"Is it going to be completely lifechanging? I do not know," said Barlow. "I do not think I can say that for sure, I think it will simplify many routine everyday things." They joined the Global Legal Blockchain consortium to help develop standards for governing the use of blockchain in law.

"In ten years, will we talk about the blockchain in particular, maybe maybe not, but hopefully we're talking about a more vibrant technology scene in Cleveland," Brooks said.

Right now, nobody is quite sure about where Blockchain can go, or how big it could get. "As we say, blockchain is the new internet," said David Brown, who exposes companies to how blockchain can help them through NextGen Interactive.

"We [have to] deciding if this is indeed a thing, or if it goes away like some other technologies have, "said Eric Wise, even those close to the blockchain admit, this is a real risk.

The idea, however, is that Blockland could create and attract hundreds of companies that need blockchain skills as of now, nobody seems to have. They plan to start this weekend.

© 2018 WKYC

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