The blockchain what is it? (part 1)

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by Lumai Mubanga

A shared public or private digital database.

The hype is here, the tone is set and the technology is just passing through its infancy into its young adulthood and eventual maturity. At that time we envision blockchain becoming as popular and well understood as the internet is today. Like the internet though, many people were outright skeptical, others optimistic and another group who totally avoided it due to lack of accurate knowledge or merely cultural barriers.

It is accurate to state that unlike the internet, the blockchain may be well known for various reasons. We have so many internet websites and individuals propagating information about it than the internet was. Secondly, there are many people connected now than it was at the time the internet was gaining ground. Thirdly, the impact that blockchain may have on our daily lives may be three-fold the impact the internet had had on the people. In this article, we take a look at a few cosmetics about blockchain that the readers will find refining and insightful.

What it is

If your details have been captured by a government urgency or your work place, it is likely that your details are saved on a database. A database is simply a record of data saved in a systematic way on the computer or network. These records are updated, edited or even deleted as new data become available, or old data becomes obsolete. Different Employees have access to different types of data on the same database. What is common though is that this database is centralised and managed by the owner, be it a goverment wing or private company.

Similarly, a blockchain is just a database, a record of data shared across a number of participants. Each of these participants has a computer connected to the network. Each of these participants, however, holds an identical copy of the whole database on their personal computer. What this means is that the data is available to any participant at any time. This is what sets the blockchain apart from regular databases.

Private and Public keys

You need both keys private and public

Another feature that differentiates blockchain from a regular database is its design. Unlike plain databases in the government of private companies, blockchain is a cryptographically designed database as well as a distributed ledger or data record. What this implies is that you need a correct cryptographic key to read and write data to the database. There are two such keys, the private and public key. In simple terms, the public key is the address of the database, in this case, the blockchain were data and information is stored for participants to access. The private key is your personal key you need to use to read or write data to the blockchain. This design guarantees the security of data and information on the ledger.

Digitized data

Another unique design is the primary nature of data in the blockchain. It has been referred to as a digital database of transactions. while a good number of developed countries have already migrated to digital networks and digital data, there are some countries which are still using some form of analogue data systems. However, before any systems can think of using blockchain technology, digitization is one of the first steps to consider.

Dual Availability

The next aspect of blockchain design is the dual availability in both public and private networks. In the conventional database, say a company database, the data is only shared privately at most. Blockchain, however, shares across platforms; can be both private and public. The best known public blockchain platform, of course, is the bitcoin blockchain. As the name suggests, you can join and unjoin the public network at any time you want.

As the above shows, blockchain in simple terms is a public and digital database, running on a cryptographic design that ensures security, autonomy, and is shared across both public and private networks. Hope this article is helpful. The next article will discuss why blockchain should be used.

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