The Big Data talk just never ends. I am going to geek out a bit with this post. It does not necessarily follow my usual light hearten style 🙂 However, I like to look at future technologies that are interesting and sometimes a little bit controversial. And Bitcoin (blockchain respectively) is the sole synonym of controversy itself. It was loved, hated, feared, disputed but never ignored. Anyway, change never comes without a bit of controversy, does it now?
I am not going to talk about what Bitcoin is, and the process that is used to create the coins. You can Google that, there are many Youtube talks as well which do a great job of explaining it.
It all started with a crypto currency called Bitcoin about 6 years ago. In the beginning, it was appealing to a specific crowd but then interest grew. People made money out of investing in it and people lost money when Mount Gox shut down, and its owner skipped to the Philippines with everyone’s cash. However the more interesting part about Bitcoin came recently, and that was not the currency itself but the technology (and the concept) it is built upon – no central ownership. The rebellious idea of it as a currency, turns out to be a genius idea when it comes to data. It almost seems like the currency is just a byproduct of the amazing data architecture. We all talk about the cloud and how amazing it is. It still has 1 major limitation – at the end of the day it is a hard drive, sitting somewhere owned by someone (1). With blockchain that somewhere and someone does not exist – everything is shared within the blocks creating the chain. Why do we care I hear you scream?
We care because the blockchain, which Bitcoin is using to store transaction data, is the only immutable, non reversible and non forgeable database. Any other database, server, or storage medium is not tamper resistant. The blockchain is an interesting type of data set, and not exactly a database, but more a referral layer.
How does it do that?
Gee, here it gets a bit trickier in trying to put this in a simple paragraph. However I will try.
The reason to why this works, is due to something called Proof of Work, or in popular terms referred to as Bitcoin mining. When I say mining, I mean processing power of thousands of machines across the world. What the Bitcoin miners are doing for the Bitcoin network, is that they secure the blockchain database, by providing computational calculations, in order to solve and create an immutable data set. Forging, deleting or otherwise modifying information in the blockchain, is impossible, as it would require an enormous amount of computational power, in order to rewrite the historical records of the Bitcoin blockchain. This means that the information is owned by everyone on the network.
I guess the biggest struggle with understanding this concept is, how can something have no ownership? We, in this world, are so used to having ‘things’ owned by 1 entity. Having this technology will allow for something bigger than Big Data. Why? Because with Big Data every company still relies on 3rd parties and suppliers to give them access to their own data. In a sense with blockchain everyone has access to everything, so a lot of 3rd parties will become completely redundant. I have always found it fascinating in today’s world, when companies pay their suppliers to give them access to their own data. It is a ridiculous situation to be in. Bitcoin’s blockchain will resolve this issue and I cannot wait to see the further developments of this technology.
I am rooting for you Bitcoin blockchain 🙂