So what is a blockchain and what are the applications for a blockchain? Blockchain is a digital record of a transaction. A transaction is simply an exchange of data. One type of data are cryptocoins. Trending in the news are articles about cryptocoins which use blockchain methodology. The idea being that a transaction is verifiable. So if Sally wants to transfer a coin (spend) to Betty, then an entry is recorded in ledger (big database) that is centrally located. Before Betty accepts the coin from Sally, she will want to confirm that Sally is indeed the current owner and that Sally has not transferred ownership of the coin to someone else. Traceability in the ledger can provide Betty with this information. Providing Sally has not previously transferred the coin to another person, then Sally and Betty record (add digital signatures to the transaction) that the coin is transferred to Betty. So a change in ownership of a coin is a transaction that is record appended in a large ledger that records the history of transactions. Records in these ledgers cannot be altered or deleted. They can only appended. In addition to financial uses of blockchain technology, other entities are looking into how blockchain may be useful in recording ownership of other assets and vital information, for example, copyright ownership, credential validation, licensing agreements, etc. It could be used for any application where there needs to be history and traceability of the data. Now blockchain is being considered for potential uses in libraries and across the educational sector for digital accreditation of personal and academic learning.
More information on Blockchains can be found in this EdSurge article.
By: Kathleen Ideguchi