Getting up to speed on Blockchain (beyond bitcoin and currencies)
April 17, 2017 10:37 AM   Subscribe

I'm interested in getting up to speed on Blockchain technology and issues. I've got the gist of it from the multitudes of bitcoin-related pieces out there. But would love some recommendations on sources that start down the path of getting into the weeds of the technology and market issues. I'm most interested in developments and use cases apart from crypto-currencies.


Reference works, blogs, current events, and pertinent anecdotal experience (and anything else!) most welcome. TIA!
posted by GPF to Computers & Internet (5 answers total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
Without dropping you into a blockchain rabbit hole (because one exists): a good way to get started is by reading Melanie Swan's book on Blockchain (O'Reilly). The book is vintage 2015, but will provide you with a good grounding about the technology and its potential applications. Don't want to read a whole book (or download a pirate pdf, which can be found after a brief google search)? Melanie Swan presents about blockchain in this short video.

You can also watch Don Tapscott's talk on TED.

There are many potential applications, (four links) most of them are startups but several are already revenue-positive.

Harvard Business Review offers a small number of good articles in the March/April issue (online) earlier this year. They are worth reading online.

New product development on blockchain architectures is my research interest. Looking forward to other answers.
posted by seawallrunner at 11:09 AM on April 17, 2017 [4 favorites]

Planet Money Podcast has an episode called Blockchain Gang about Charlie Shrem, who was a bitcoin trader who was convicted of "aiding and abetting an unlicensed money transmission business," related to Silk Road. While he was in prison, he discovered the various ad-hoc currencies of the prison he was in, including cans of mackerel. Mackeral is not a crypto-currency, but it's a currency nonetheless, so I acknowledge that this is not for certain a fit for your question.

Anyway, as a kind of thought experiment, he talks about the benefits of the blockchain not so much in terms of money, but in terms of trust. Prisoners, possibly more than most people (but who knows?), are not mutually trustworthy, so a blockchain, which could be managed by several groups of highest-trust-manageable prisoners who are willing to record transactions in ledgers and synchronize their ledgers during common hours.

It's impractical in the extreme, but it's an interesting demonstration that the blockchain doesn't have to be in an electronic or even a particularly sophisticated medium; and while it does require total participation to be successful, it can create a relatively trustworthy record where no trust can be forged.
posted by Sunburnt at 12:37 PM on April 17, 2017 [2 favorites]

PokitDok's doing DokChain which is for medical records.
posted by brainwane at 2:27 PM on April 17, 2017 [1 favorite]

Here's an application outside of crypto-currency: the state of Delaware plans to be the first state to adopt distributed ledger technology to support its public archives. This will allow corporations to use blockchain for financial filings, and eventually to issue shares. (Paraphrased from Fast Company.)

An instructive link on this, and more of a description on the use of distributed ledgers here.
posted by amusebuche at 4:19 AM on April 19, 2017

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