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Ten Years of Bitcoin and the Genesis of Blockchain

Ten years ago, 3rd of January 2009, someone under the name of Satoshi Nakamoto created the genesis block in the event-based underlying storage platform for the Bitcoin virtual currency. Ten years later, that event-based underlying storage platform is universally known as Blockchain and the entire IT community is actively researching scenarios where to employ it. FWIW, here’s a list of facts I love to share.

  • There are very few true software experts (those who usually devise software systems) involved in the discussions and in the various expert panels called out, even at country level, to define “national strategies”.
  • To a true software expert (one who usually devises software systems), the whole Blockchain thing sounds interesting-but-weird. Because we’re talking about a storage paradigm that is not (yet?) the breakthrough of anything. There are plenty of storage paradigms out there (relational, unstructured, graph, event-based) and Blockchain is just one more, albeit with its own unique features.
  • Decentralized storage and strong resistance to tampering are the two features that make Blockchain unique and different from, say, an event-sourcing database, whether a commercial product like EventStore or a handcrafted, product-specific solution.
  • Are those two interesting features sufficient to jump on the Blockchain bandwagon? Yes, if those two features prove to be a concrete breakthrough for some business scenarios. A technology is a breakthrough when it makes possible things that weren’t possible before or aren’t possible otherwise.
  • The Blockchain storage platform is doubtless a breakthrough for the virtual currencyspace (aka, cryptocurrencies). A virtual currency is subject to the Double Spending(DS) problem that tempering and chains of events solve brilliantly. Is it enough? Well, Blockchain solves the DS problem in light of the specific requirement set by Satoshi Nakamoto: peer-to-peer currency exchange, just like it were cash.
  • Exchange of an amount of a virtual currency is not the same as an electronic payment or a financial or commercial transaction. By design, it is a peer-to-peer transaction with no (strict) need to be recorded in some log. For this purpose, Blockchain was the perfect fit!
  • Experts (with the notable exception of software experts) seem to see Blockchain applications everywhere: supply-chain, logistics, healthcare, fintech, legal transactions and contracts and probably everything else. How much is real and how much is only the dream (or the nightmare) of a fully tracked world?
  • It’s not a matter of religion, of course! More pragmatically, it’s instead a matter of finding applications and business processes and problems that can be solved, or much more effectively solved, using a Blockchain storage paradigm in lieu of any of the other known storage paradigms. This is what software experts find weird about Blockchain.Centralized storage is not evil. The fintech world runs just fine with centralized storage (i.e., SWIFT) and to “my best knowledge” that it would work better with a decentralized form of storage is pure speculation. If not, please provide us, poor pragmatic software guys, numbers and evidence rather than just fluffy and evanescent statements. We will warmly and deeply thank anyone!
  • Peer-to-peer contracts is another hot area for alleged Blockchain success stories. Because it’s a contract, it does require some form of recording. We do have technologies today that would allow to record and access. If it doesn’t work on the user end it’s not because of the storage paradigm. It’s because of the software architecture. It’s because of the process analysis. It’s because of the services created. It’s because of the user interface.

In the end, it’s not the storage baby!

PS: I’d love to hear any counter-melody to this song. But facts, not notes! :

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