So what really is Blockchain ? I am sure most of you would have come across this term somewhere or the other, be it on some website, blog article, news or other place. Analysts are projecting it to be bigger than Social media, Cloud Computing, Big Data or even Artificial Intelligence. Another term which is closely related to Blockchain, which no one had heard of till few years back is Bitcoin. Blockchain, in the simplest terms is the technology behind Digital or Virtual Currencies such as Bitcoins.
Blockchain is a form of Distributed database, which, as the name suggests stores the data in bits and pieces at different places. In context of Bitcoins or Currency, it is a public ledger (accessible to authorized users only, called miners) of the Bitcoin transactions. As the name says, Blockchain is the chain of blocks, where each block holds a series of transaction entries. Each transaction has a digital signature that authenticates it. The “distributed” part is introduced by making this ledger available to other miners. Transactions done every 10 minutes are recorded into a single ‘block’. Each block is then connected to the previous one in terms of transactional values, thus the name Blockchain. The Distributed architecture gives no single party the power to tamper with the data, thus securing it. Here, it is important to understand that Bitcoin is just an application of Blockchain technology and that this technology in itself has the potential to be as big as the Internet has become in the past 2 decades.
There are reports that DARPA as well as NATO is looking to use Blockchain technology for military related apps. This shows that Blockchain technology is becoming more and more mature and is now ready for applications in the real world. It is being said that we are on the verge of a time like early 1990’s when we were just introduced to the Internet. Blockchain could change email, online shopping, Social networking, Internet of Things and just about everything we do online. Maybe a time will come sometime in 2035 when people will wonder how civilization ever functioned without it.
All said and done, it needs to be seen how much of all this will turn out to be true eventually. Nonetheless, technology seems to be bringing up exciting new avenues, which a common man cannot stay away from.