[DG-BSC] Fwd: Brief writeup on blockchain technology

Eve Maler eve.maler at forgerock.com
Tue Aug 16 10:03:27 CDT 2016


*Eve Maler*ForgeRock Office of the CTO | VP Innovation & Emerging Technology
Cell +1 425.345.6756 | Skype: xmlgrrl | Twitter: @xmlgrrl
*ForgeRock Summits and UnSummits* are coming to
<http://summits.forgerock.com/> *London and Paris!*

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Eve Maler <eve.maler at forgerock.com>
Date: Mon, Aug 15, 2016 at 1:06 PM
Subject: Brief writeup on blockchain technology
To: j stollman <stollman.j at gmail.com>


Tell me what you think of this... I'm sure you will have many corrections!
What I was going for was a high-level value-based pocket explanation that
would mean a lot to a lot of different audiences. :-) I only recently stuck
the few links in there.

====

Following are the key elements of blockchain technology and their value.
Other technologies can be blockchain-like if they have some of these
elements, but are not considered true blockchains.


   -

   A tamper-evident “ledger” (linear, append-only) data structure
   -

      Valuable for recording events that definitely happened
      -

      Less valuable for recording any information that is uncertain or
      required to be deleted (such as personal information for which a
“right to
      be forgotten/right to erasure” has been established)
      -

   Autonomous, distributed, and possibly even decentralized (no node has
   higher privileges) storage nodes
   -

      Valuable for architectures where trust in a central authority is
      difficult or undesirable to establish (although trusted third parties do
      play a role in some blockchain deployments anyway; see third bullet below)
      -

      Less valuable for recording sensitive information because of the
      increased attack surface (every node has a copy of everything) and
      resulting increased privacy considerations
      -

      Less valuable for recording voluminous information because every node
      has a copy of everything
      -

   Mathematically based (algorithmic) consensus for contents of new ledger
   entries
   -

      Valuable for incentivizing cooperative behaviors among node
      participants about entry contents (“proof of work” as used in Bitcoin is
      the most famous)
      -

      Less valuable if other parts of the “BLT sandwich”
      (business-legal-technical) are not well controlled for through IAM, trust
      frameworks, etc. -- e.g., multiple node participants can collude to game
      the system -- but then decentralization goals can be compromised thereby


Blockchain technology is a platform, not a ready-made application. There
are “public blockchains” on which applications can be built; two of the
most well-known are Bitcoin and Ethereum. (N.B.: A recent (Jul-Aug 2016) hack
and fork
<https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ethereum#The_DAO_and_the_blockchain_fork>
have left the Ethereum blockchain split into two, Ethereum and Ethereum
Classic, showing the extreme volatility of this space. See also the Blockchain
Graveyard <https://magoo.github.io/Blockchain-Graveyard/> detailing the
many startups that have already died due to hacks.) These can be thought of
as being something like “public cloud services” for blockchain.  There are
also open-source implementations of blockchain that can be deployed
internally within an organization; depending on how they’re deployed, they
can be thought of us being something like “private cloud” blockchains.
There are also many blockchain-related tools, SDKs, and app platforms that
ride on top of these base layers, much like other development platforms.


*Eve Maler*ForgeRock Office of the CTO | VP Innovation & Emerging Technology
Cell +1 425.345.6756 | Skype: xmlgrrl | Twitter: @xmlgrrl
*ForgeRock Summits and UnSummits* are coming to
<http://summits.forgerock.com/> *London and Paris!*
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