How to Learn BlockChain

In the last 6 months the number of videos about Blockchain on youtube has EXPLODED. Six months ago almost all videos were marketing fluff — sans the terrific ones by Andreas M. Antonopoulos — still the best on the internet. Now there are a substantial amount of good learning videos and good recorded conversations/debates.

So here’s a path on how to learn Blockchain:

The Skinny (Explain It to Me Like I’m 5 Years Old; EITMLI5)

Blockchain is the underlying technology to Bitcoin. Bitcoin, however, is just one example of Blockchain. Blockchain  is an emerging technology that promises to radically improve not only banking, but supply chain, and other transaction networks. It is creating new opportunities for innovation. It’s been said that it will change the world more than the internet did.

Blockchain enables people and organizations to exchange assets in the form of goods and services with the transactions being recorded on a shared ledger — a chain of blocks, each block a transaction — with sophistication so that no one can change a block in the chain. No more ‘cooking the books’.

How to Learn Blockchain

First — the best Antonopoulos videos:

1. Best 50,000 Foot Overview:

2. Best Technical Learning Lecture:

Get a pad and pencil and spend 2 hours listening to this. You cannot buy a better education at an Ivy League school costing >$50k.

3. Good Self-Paced Course to Learn Blockchain (three 2-hour courses — series of short video lectures and tests; get accredited): 

Blockchain Tutorials on IBM DeveloperWorks

You need to register to get a free IBM DeveloperWorks username and password. Takes 30 seconds.

4. What Blockchain Is Not

5. Controversy — Security

Blockchain has already split into two camps of controversy over security and privacy. In its natural state, Blockchain provides a permissionless ledger. Major organizations such as banks and technology companies, wish to introduce a security and privacy layer — permissioned ledgers.

A fabric provides the underlying foundation of a blockchain network. And so you can categorize Blockchain into two kinds of fabrics:

typesofblockchainfabrics

Bubble Boy and the NYC Sewer Rat:

Anonopoulos argues for permissionless ledgers — this is worth the price of admission even if there was a price. It is free. It is extremely informative, and very entertaining:

6. Best Place to Start Using Blockchain:

Blockchain Free 30-day trial on IBM Bluemix, no credit card required. Use the same username/password created above. Terrific hands on opportunity.

7. New Blockchain Companies

Get a feel for what is going on in the real world right now.

8. Good Conversation:

More to come.

Summary: Things to Remember About Blockchain

blockchainThings to remember about Blockchain:

Blockchain = Shared, replicated, permission ledger across business network.

  • Consensus — all participants agree that the transaction is valid.
  • Providence — participants know where the asset came from & how its ownership has changed over time.
  • Immutability — no one can tamper with a transaction once it’s agreed. If a transaction is in error, then a new transaction must be used to reverse the error with both visible.
  • Finality — there is one place to determine the ownership of an asset or completion of a transaction, and that is the shared ledger.

Things to Know About Blockchain Evolution

Blockchain is developing along multiple fronts:

  • Blockchain fabrics
  • Blockchain networks, ledgers, and participants
  • The Hyperledger Project, an initiative to build an open cross-industry distributed permissioned ledger

The Hyperledger Project (aka Hyper Ledger Project)

The Linux Foundation is running a Hyperledger Project to build a permissioned blockchain fabric that includes privacy capabilities, pluggable consensus models, and custom chaincode environments to allow blockchain technology to be applied to many business use cases in multiple industries. Again — the permissionless ledger guys like Antonopoulos would argue this is folly. But major IT corporations and banks are supporting it.

Fundamentals: How a Blockchain Network Operates

The participants in a blockchain business network have various roles including:

  • a regulator,
  • a developer, and a
  • a network operator.

The components of the blockchain network include:

  • ledgers,
  • smart contracts,
  • events,
  • assets, and
  • other items depending on the scenario.

Developers can build applications that can access the blockchain network and perform tasks such as secure asset transfer.

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