Blockchain technology and communications

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In OctoberThe Economist published its cover story about bitcoin and, more compellingly, the key technology that supports it: Having spoken and written about this topic for nearly a year by this point, I excitedly wrote my colleague. Given all of this, why is our industry so reluctant to talk about the transformational effect that blockchain technology could have?

Most surely, there are all of the evident signals that would ordinarily indicate a generational shift in how we think about technology and communications. But we need to take this seriously—not only the technology but the philosophical shifts that give it life.

For far too long our the economist cover blockchain technology has relied on mastery of hierarchies in order to ply its trade. It must now understand how to operate in a world where consensus-based proof wins over institutional trust. By way of an overview, a blockchain is a way to record data that is both consensus-based participants or some majority thereof need to agree on the data and tamper-proof data is timestamped and grouped in blocks, with each block cryptographically linked to the previous one, forming the economist cover blockchain technology chain.

Altering a record is rendered economically infeasible since it would involve rewriting all blocks afterward. Given these characteristics, it could be said that a blockchain delivers a record of the shared digital truth between the network participants, based on proof rather than trust.

Today, there are hundreds of cryptocurrencies that have joined Bitcoin—some with obvious utility, some far less-so. Just as compellingly, companies and consortia are taking the core blockchain ledger concept and looking to build greater efficiency and reliability in their business. In a crisis, particularly in the run-up to a recall, it often takes a distressingly long time to get all of the facts of who-knew-what-when and where processes failed—a trivial matter when an enterprise has had blockchain technology already deployed.

According to Fortune, a recent Walmart blockchain pilot the economist cover blockchain technology compressed the time it took to track its mango supply chain from more than six days to just a few seconds. Today, blockchain stands to disrupt many business processes. Some notable, representative examples:. This, of course, is almost the economist cover blockchain technology facile.

As your grade-school computer lab teacher taught you: First, I argue that immutability isn't necessarily the primary benefit of a blockchain but, rather, consensus. In other words, nothing gets written until all parties or a majority, depending on the system rules agree on the data. The more parties, the better. If the system was built to defraud its the economist cover blockchain technology, the good news is that it would have to be completely up-front about its intentions.

Also, while it may be an easy matter to, say, place that ice cube on top the economist cover blockchain technology the temperature sensor, this is mitigated by the use of multiple sensors—in effect making this kind of fraud economically infeasible. While there may be some branding and communications challenges in moving this from the B2B the economist cover blockchain technology the B2C sphere While many of the corporate-sponsored pilot projects that we've seen in this space have been stunning in their ambition and vision, no production-class case study in corporate adoption has yet emerged.

I predict this will change in In closing, know that when you have access to a single, secure, consensus-based truth, you can start to conceive of what I have started calling a "secure narrative"—the result of pouring blockchain technology over conventional digital communications. With the advent of digital publishing and social media, the content wasn't secure extremely malleable, in fact, as any Wikipedia-obsessed executive might tell you but was very open—the barriers to entry were very low.

With blockchain technology, we can now conceive of both. In this exciting future, we can have previously unimagined certainty in our digital communications, plus the openness that can allow it to scale and be the most useful to the most stakeholders—companies, regulators, NGOs, media, and the public at-large.

As such, blockchain technology stands to mend the frayed fabric of digital trust, and so our trade must make every effort to contribute meaningfully to this ecosystem. In fact, as the conversation around native advertising has borne out in the U. We therefore must approach this with confidence in the value of our trade's contributions, but also due humility in terms of the role we will play in cooperation the economist cover blockchain technology the innovators and thinkers who are already the economist cover blockchain technology this future.

We will only the economist cover blockchain technology one shot, lest any mishandled early efforts themselves become immutably recorded. His approach seeks the economist cover blockchain technology surface area between hacker culture and corporate communications. Skip to main content. No one party controlled the ledger e. Some notable, representative examples: Companies like Chronicled and Provenance are exploring this technology to help us know more about what we buy, from the journey a product has taken, to whether it is genuine, to even whether it was sourced and gathered ethically.

Various projects are applying these supply-chain principles to virtual goods, such as the ones purchased in games, making such goods able to survive the shutdown of a virtual world. Leading banks—precisely the kind of institution cryptocurrency the economist cover blockchain technology meant to disintermediate—are piloting projects aimed at achieving greater clearing and settlement efficiencies, as well as transform sectors like trade finance and lending.

Many nation-states and municipalities are looking at blockchain technology for government services, ranging from securing land titles and health records to somewhat incredibly frequent-buyer loyalty programs. Challenges But for all of this, there remain several relatively under-explored challenges.

While there may be some branding the economist cover blockchain technology communications challenges in moving this from the B2B to the B2C sphere-- Current state of play While many of the corporate-sponsored pilot projects that we've seen in this space have been stunning in their ambition and vision, no production-class case study in corporate adoption has yet emerged. My advice to all newcomers remains the same: Ask the big question: Even if blockchain technology fails spectacularly, it will be known for inspiring new ideas in intra-industry collaboration.

Chances are good that there is a consortium focused on blockchain topics in your industry or market. See and be seen: Closer to home, try to find local meetups about blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies in your area, depending on your interest. Toward a secure narrative In closing, know that when you have access to a single, secure, consensus-based truth, you can start to conceive of what I have started calling a "secure narrative"—the result of pouring blockchain technology over conventional digital communications.

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