Ah yes, the Blockchain, a word that’s become synonymous with most of the leading digital innovations taking the world by storm today, but unlike its big brother, the Internet, Blockchain technology promises possibilities far beyond its older sibling’s reach.
The Internet brought upon a revolution that would change the way the world would operate forever, and since its initial inception in 1983, the year often considered to be the official birth year of the Internet (and eventually millions of cat memes to boot), it has evolved from a simple military communication network to the world’s central cyberspace.
However, comparing the Internet to Blockchain is almost a given in every conversation involving either of the two, seeing as both technologies boil down to being protocols for connectivity and sharing data.
While one of the primary factors for the creation of the Internet was to make the transfer of data between computers effortless and seamless, one could argue that Blockchain’s purpose is to verify the authenticity of digital data, and in some cases, attach a monetary value to it — but even then, providing such a simple definition for this technology would be doing it a serious disservice.
Blockchain technology is structured in the form of a chain of blocks that contain information, compared to the Internet, which can be described as ‘formless’.
In a Blockchain, one ‘block’ of information is entirely dependent on the other blocks in the chain due to its use of the Hash system, which in layman’s terms just means that one can’t exist without the other.
On top of that, Blockchains also incorporate an algorithm called ‘proof of work’, which slows the creation of new blocks and helps to prevent tampering with any information found in the chain.
A bit of simple math later, and it stands quite clear to see how this technology could grow to benefit society in many ways by improving sectors where the Internet provided a strong foundation to build on but may have fallen short in some cases.
Blockchains are decentralised, and because they enable the storing of data between all operating devices in a network, which essentially provides each device with an identical copy of the information that won’t get lost if one device were to crash — its use case becomes incredibly invaluable when taking sectors such as banking, cybersecurity and healthcare into consideration.
Imagine a massive digital record-keeper and a decentralised value exchange combined into one kickass entity — that’s a Blockchain.
The rise of Blockchain technology, along with its crown cryptocurrency, Bitcoin, is incredibly similar to that of the early days of the Internet.
The early Internet was a combination of a bunch of weird technologies that proved to be very difficult to adopt for many users, yet while people struggled to understand many of the things being developed at the time, it didn’t really matter.
Why? Because there was excitement for it in the market. Sound familiar?
While the two technologies share certain similarities, they differ in rate of adoption. One of the most compelling arguments for Blockchain’s potential to become even larger in scale compared to that of the Internet, is the speed at which Blockchain technology is being adopted and pushed even further into the mainstream by big corporations and Internet personalities.
The mass adoption of Blockchain technology is being pushed forward at lightning speed, thanks to the continued rise of the public’s interest in cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, Ethereum and Cardano — all built on Blockchain technology, albeit on different iterations of it.
Since the official release of Bitcoin in January 2009, the growth of this technology has been exponential, growing at a much faster rate than the Internet did back in the early 80s.
On the 5th of April 2021, the market capitalisation of all cryptocurrencies reached $2trillion, doubling in just 3 weeks and, in doing so, became the fastest-growing asset class of the last decade.
At the time of writing, approximately 10 331 registered cryptocurrencies are listed on CoinMarketCap, and that’s not even counting the ones that aren’t officially listed.
The technology’s enormous growth can be attributed to the fact that it is ushering in a new era of finance, something the Internet established a strong foundation for but could be improved upon by Blockchain’s enhanced focus on security and record-keeping.
Just like many of the Internet’s early projects, however, many cryptocurrencies and experiments on Blockchains will fail, but if the Internet has taught us anything: it’s that market excitement will help anything reach for the stars.
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