June 23, 2017

A Blockchain Explanation Your Parents Could Understand

Written by Jamie Skella

This article originally appeared on Lifehacker Australia.

The problem with most blockchain “explainers” is that they provide more detail than what matters to most people, using language that is foreign to most people, which winds up leaving people more confused than when they started. Instead, without worrying about being a technically perfect description, here’s an explanation of blockchain your parents could understand.

First, let’s reframe ‘blockchain’

Starting with terminology, let’s ditch unfamiliar words and talk plainly – I promise you won’t read about ‘nodes’ or ‘hashing’ in this article. Jumping right in, a blockchain is a distributed database, otherwise known as a distributed ledger. To make things really simple and relatable, let’s call that ledger a ‘record book’ instead. Furthermore, let’s talk in terms of it being ‘shared’ instead of distributed. For even greater context, think about a ‘block’ as a ‘line item’ in that shared record book.

So, for the purposes of this article, we’re going to call blockchain a shared record book. Each addition to this record book is a new line item.

‘A shared record book? This doesn’t sound very complex’

Technology is only as complex as salesmen (and conmen) want it to sound. It’s all created by people no smarter than you or I, and it’s all quite simple when you break it down. That said, the modern version of this shared record book is indeed a technological triumph, one that is looking to shape our future in profound ways.

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