“What exactly is blockchain?” “Is blockchain really that useful?” “What kind of changes can blockchain bring to the world?” We believe these are the questions that most blockchain newbies’ have in mind.
“From Bitcoin to Blockchain 3.0”, we briefly introduced the developments and features of blockchain. In this article, we will be focusing on the characteristics that make blockchain special.
Most blockchains are distributed, decentralized, and open-source systems. The immutability created by these features ensures the credibility and security of the program operating on blockchain.
To comprehend the concept of blockchain, “distributed ledger” is the first keyword to learn. We can imagine blockchain as a giant distributed database, in which program codes and transaction history are stored like the form of ledger.
Traditional applications and online service platforms all require a server and database to specifically address and preserve data. Which way should the code be executed and how data should be stored are under the rules established by officials. The centralized structure does help save time and efforts, yet what if accidents happen? Severe failures will occur if the centralized official suddenly decides to use its computing power to forge data, or the centralized database is crippled by unforeseen events.
Hence, we need a distributed database to store data in a more secure way. Blockchain is the solution to problems like that, it allows every user on chain to hold a copy of data, this eliminates system failures that centralized database may have. When thousands of copies are distributed, a consensus is made. The feasibility of data damage and alteration can be enormously mitigated.
The status quo of applications and online service platforms are that all user data are controlled by giant online service providers. However, blockchain brings in a whole new concept. Data became public and transparent, everyone can access data directly. Nonetheless, most people desire privacy, thus, blockchain and its applications usually are anonymous, no one will know who in real life initiates a certain transaction or activity, e.g. Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Litecoin.
A decentralized system means every user on blockchain is equal and no one has comparative power over another, this removes any trust issues user may have. The technology itself is critical since most online service platforms have administrators to manage the activities. When someone (usually the government) attempts to shut down a platform or ban certain content, or a consortium tries to modify platform’s policies to their advantage, the government/consortium merely has to bribe the authority in order to tailor the platform’s behavior to their desire. Or even worse, the authority per se is the one who seeks benefits at the expense of users.
Yet blockchain is normally a decentralized system which indicates the difficulty to change the data within. If someone requests to alter the data, the person has to reach out to the copies of ledgers distributed around the world. Since users are usually located in different countries and their real names are onerous to trade, a decentralized blockchain is unlikely to be confined by government or consortium.
Despite of the advantages mentioned above, who can truly guarantee that the system will function as perfect as we picture it to? To resolve this concern, blockchain is designed to be open source. Open source means that the code which constructs the blockchain is fully public, and at the present time, almost every chain has fulfilled this aspiration. Results from the open source feature, every engineers and people who conceive relating knowledge can help examining the code, and making sure that blockchain does function as the publisher claims.
Generally, traditional online platform and service are centralized (or even private), indicating the impossibility of complete publication and transparency. And the likelihood of data being tampered or lost is relatively high. However, by decentralization, distributed database and being open source, the potential hazards of present internet technology such as government blackbox operation and internet fraud have been undertaken. Thus, blockchain can be seen as the most reliable internet technology till date.
Article by wqqhou, JOYSO