In an admittedly non-journalistic article posted on Re/code by Mike Gault, the CEO of a company who’s product is “industrial scale blockchain”, writes a good overview of what blockchain is.
A blockchain is essentially just a record, or ledger, of digital events one thats “distributed,” or shared between many different parties. It can only be updated by consensus of a majority of the participants in the system. And, once entered, information can never be erased.
In addition to introducing the technology, Gault tries to make the argument that we can trust our most personal and intimate information to systems based on blockchain without worrying about privacy. I’m still skeptical.
Steve Cheney wrote about System Wide Network Effects in Mobile and mentions blockchain:
System wide network effects are network effects that take hold when adjacent parts of an overall system are built oute.g. smartphones, wearables, sensor networks, new physical layers, blockchain etc. Network effects at these layers are incredibly powerful as they effectively unlock compounded value from previous layers that was ready to be extracted. For example, for your smart device to provide accurate indoor context, a developer-friendly sensor / location stack needs to be built out.
His article is a little rough around the edges but the core concept of network effects being present and compounded as technologies build on existing technologies (one layer building on another) is an interesting idea to ponder.