Hackernoon logoCleaning Out The Kitchen 👨‍🍳 — Student’s Life Used to Explain Blockchain 🔗 by@rafaelbelchior

Cleaning Out The Kitchen 👨‍🍳 — Student’s Life Used to Explain Blockchain 🔗

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@rafaelbelchiorRafael Belchior

PhD researcher (Blockchain); https://rafaelapb.github.io/

Hello All 👋,

I often struggle to explain what the heck is this blockchain thing. Is it a currency? Is it Bitcoin? Is it a computer program? Or many? How is this useful at all? Those are some of the questions I get. No worries, the concept of blockchain is very simple. A blockchain is:

In 🇵🇹 — escala de trabalho. I’m not sure, but I think the English term is “Work Spreadsheet”. If not, well, new concept. A work spreadsheet is a document saying who needs to do what and when. The idea is that everyone knows what everyone needs to do and when — so if work has not been done, people know who to talk to.

I’ll give you a very practical example. In my apartment, we have a kitchen — a kitchen we share among 5 people. Sometimes, one of us pretends to play the impostor game and manages to get it really dirty:

You see, this is a problem — nobody wants to cook on a disgusting floor. So we discovered that we could use blockchain to solve this problem:

Yes, a paper blockchain. You see, this work spreadsheet is really similar to a blockchain. A blockchain is a system that:

  • Is immutable ✅
  • nobody can delete checkmarks because we use inkIs transparent ✅
  • you enter the house — BAM — you see this paper. It is there, carefully attached to the wall with tape for everyone to see.✅
  • Resistant to malicious actors ✅ — because actions are validated
  • You can’t say you did not do something you did ✅ this is called non-repudiability — and in practice, this can be possible if we sign our checkmarks with our signature. We don’t do this, but you can see each checkmark has its own style — and we have no incentives to mess around with each others’ tasks (do we? 🤔)
  • Is auditable ✅ this is a consequence of transparency and non-repudiability.

All these properties allow us, as a community, to decide what is considered acceptable behavior and what it is not. This way, we achieve a common goal (clean house). And this works even if we have different incentives.

For example, each one might want to spend as least time as possible cleaning, but would prefer the others to clean very well).

How is the paper blockchain resistant to malicious actors? let us now suppose that Rafael, on the 2nd of November claimed that he clean “WC G”, which stands for the big bathroom, while in fact, he did not. This is a malicious actor trying to “cheat the system”.

Fortunately, we imply a convenient way of dealing with this. If people go to the bathroom and verify that it is in fact, not clean — then a cross is put on my checkmark, and I would have to clean it away.

That is what a blockchain is, in fact. But instead of using paper, it uses computer programs and cryptography, automating this process.

If you have a situation that:

  • Requires a global source of information (work spreadsheet)
  • Has several participants who do not totally (or at all) trust each other
  • No sensitive information is written

Then you start to have reasons to use a blockchain. A nice list that can shed some light:

If you think carefully, there are a lot of situations where we do not completely trust others.

  • How are our taxes being managed?
  • How is my money being managed by the bank (is it really my money)?
  • Are the Portuguese Justice systems transparent about who access its information?
  • How is the grading process behind university courses? How can I know the quality of a course and its teaching staff?
  • Where is the package I’ve ordered from Amazon? The post office said I’ve received the delivery, created a delivery guide, but I didn’t receive my package. I contacted them, and they told the seller to open a dispute with them. Why? What happened?

This last one happened recently — and I feel it is very little to no transparency and, thus, accountability. As you can see, there are lots of different use cases.

I believe blockchain will thrive as a decentralizing technology.

Key Takeaways

  • Blockchain is about transparency, and thus accountability
  • Participants must agree on what is the goal, as a community — blockchain powers self-managed communities
  • Blockchain ≠ cryptocurrencies.

Again, blockchain is not a cryptocurrency. Cryptocurrencies are typically enabled by blockchains, but that’s it.

Cheers ✌️,

–rafael

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