[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

      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
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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