To be fair, if you’re here, you’re already at least a little “in the know”. But the technology that makes TraDove’s exciting work possible can be a little hard to wrap your head around. So if you feel confused, you can rest easy knowing you’re not alone. That said, knowledge is power, so here’s a short debrief on what blockchain technology is, why it’s important, and what its numerous applications are.
The defining features
“Blockchain” refers not to a specific system, but is a descriptor of a certain way that people can and do organize systems. A “blockchain” at its basic definition is a way to authenticate data on a community basis, rather than centralized one.
A “block” is basically just a piece of information. In some ways, it could be considered analogous to a hard drive partition, or any other way of describing a separate, unique space of data. A block contains two pieces of information: One is information pertinent to the kind of system in use, so it can contain things like transaction information, time, place, and more. The other piece is a unique identifier, called a “hash”, that does not show up anywhere else on the system. This unique hash is basically a signature that says all of the information contained inside the block is valid.
The “chain” is simply the very large network of computers that are part of the blockchain system. When any new information is written to the blockchain, these changes are pushed to all of the computers connected to the system. This is what makes a blockchain system very secure: It’s incredibly difficult to write a fraudulent change to a block, since this change won’t be the same on every other copy of the blockchain that exists. This is also what makes a blockchain a “decentralized” system; no single authority is reviewing data to ensure it’s acceptable. All systems connected to the blockchain are checking their data against what exists on other systems.
Blockchain’s most famous use is in Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies that use a public ledger to manage transactions. Blockchain can be used in other ways, too. A blockchain can be used to assign unique identifiers to physical objects that can be checked against the blockchain database, making this technology useful for such functions as fulfillment security. Blockchain technology can also be used to create encrypted and secure records of other things like medical charts, school grades, or even as a means of creating highly unique contact information tokens.
Ultimately, blockchain is a disruptive technology with the potential to secure, anonymize, and authenticate just about everything that would need it; and it’s a tool that we are proud to say powers the work we do.