For our Tech Terms, we sometimes dig into the inner workings of your computer or other technology hardware, but sometimes we like to dig into details of new or emerging technology that’s taking the industry by storm. Today, we’re doing just that by discussing what a blockchain is and how it works.
What is the Blockchain?
Most people hear the word blockchain and immediately think about Bitcoin. However, blockchain has a lot of other practical uses in many different industries. Blockchain technology was born out of a need for a continuously updated mutual ledger. This concept would then be adapted into cryptocurrency through the development of Bitcoin (and others) to provide individuals with an encrypted and private way to make transactions.
In a way, the blockchain is basically a database that is validated by multiple users rather than one central authority. Think of it like a publicly-managed server hosting data instead of a single entity governing the data, like how an organization might host all of its data on a single server.
How Does it Work?
Let’s get one thing clear right off the bat--blockchain technology is not simple. That isn’t to say that it’s terribly complicated to understand on a basic level, though. The most interesting part of the blockchain is that, since it’s hosted and controlled by so many users, no one entity can have complete control over it. This also means that users cannot go back into the logs and tamper with things, guaranteeing that what you see is what you get--or, at least, as authentic as possible. This extra layer of security is one of the best reasons why the blockchain is such a reliable resource for cryptocurrencies.
It is thought that the future holds untold potential uses for the blockchain, including the ability to guarantee the authenticity of various types of data. Other applications are being considered, but the amount of power and electricity required to power a blockchain places limits on the practicality of many of these systems.
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