What is Blockchain, in simple terms?


What is a Blockchain, in simple terms ?

The blockchain is an undeniably ingenious invention, but it’s a little hard to grasp for beginners. A blockchain is, in the simplest of terms, a time-stamped series of immutable record of data that is managed b y cluster of computers not owned by any single entity.

A Simple Definition

A blockchain is a growing list of records, where each record (each block) is linked to the previous one using cryptography. Each block contains a cryptographic hash of the previous block a timestamp, and transaction data allowing digital information to be distributed but not copied.

Not all blockchains are made the same

The word blockchain is often misunderstood. When you hear it, you might think that a blockchain is by default immutable, censorship resistant, transnational and borderless. But that’s actually not the case.

For exemple, the bitcoin’s blockchain is the first open, decentralized, censorship resistant, borderless and transnational blockchain in the world. But not all blockchains are made the same. You will hear a lot of people saying that the blockchain technology is the technology that makes bitcoin works. It is as accurate as saying that TCP/IP the the technology that makes the internet, the internet. But that will mean that your university intranet is the same thing as the internet, but you know those are two completely different things.

Bitcoin’s Blockchain is a very special blockchain

Bitcoin is indeed, a blockchain. But a very special one. Simply because it uses at it’s core a Proof-Of-Work consensus mechanism system. Proof-Of-Work gives to bitcoin  some special characteristics. It cannot be changed, by anyone. Even by several countries who joins their forces, or miners owing 100% of the mining power. That is NOT the case for every blockchain that you might encounter.

Proof-Of-Work is the technology that enables immutability

Immutability is a characteristic of PoW, not blockchain. Censorship resistance are possible because of the anonymity of mining. You have to be very careful and ask some questions about the blockchain you are looking at, questions like: How does the consensus algorithm works ? Because many blockchains in the cryptocurrency space are mutable by some actors.

Blockchain is bullshit — Andreas Antonopoulos

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