Blockchain For Dummies: What you really need to know
Databases

Blockchain For Dummies: What you really need to know

The first 'Blockchain For Dummies' guide was released by Wiley earlier this year. Download the first chapter 'Getting started with blockchain’ in PDF format. And read an exclusive interview with author, Tiana Laurence (co-founder of Factom), below.

 

How did you come to write this ‘for dummies’ guide?

I was contacted by my editor after he had found some of my thought leadership pieces floating on the internet. He was looking for a person that could explain this technology to the average person that did not have a technical background. I had spent the last year in Silicon Valley educating executives and governments about blockchain, so it was a natural fit.

What do you think is the most important thing for senior executives to understand about blockchain?

Blockchain can be used for many different things, but they only do a few simple tasks. Blockchains create, for all intents and purposes, permanent data that is locked in time. Since data can be used for a variety of different things, so can blockchains. It is best to find one small place where this capability will add value and then test your idea rather than becoming overwhelmed by all the places you could hypothetically use blockchain technology. Also, there are many blockchains available that have been designed to do different things. Look for the one that was intended to solve your problem and start on a small scale. 

What questions do you get asked most about blockchain?

Most frequently I'm asked, how blockchain technology adds value above what is already in the marketplace. The answer: there are three reasons you would use a blockchain versus a traditional database - #1: You wish to trade value. Blockchains are able to move money quickly and cheaply. #2: You wish to collaborate on a set of data between parties that may have opposite incentives. Because of the permanent and transparent nature of blockchain, one can't go back and change what has been written. This quality is very valuable in business interactions. #3: You want to create redundant and persistent data. The distributed nature of blockchains makes them ideal for record keeping. 

Blockchain is widely regarded as an extremely complex topic – is there anything you think is particularly hard to simplify?

The most difficult topic is why cryptocurrency has value. When I'm asked this, I start talking about philosophy, politics, the history of trade, economics, and culture. I don't have a simple answer, but that might also be why I have become so fascinated by the topic over the years. 

What parts of the whole blockchain phenomenon do you think are hyped and which parts are underplayed?
We are at a time in this industry when many are selling a dream, and it's not at all reality at this moment, but a place that they would like to create and that they believe is possible with blockchain technology. Sorting out who will follow through and what the market will actually want is the challenge. 

How did you first get into blockchain?

I found blockchain through mining Bitcoin. I have always been interested in the nature of money and emerging technology. Blockchains are both. 

How did you come to found Factom?

I co-founded Factom with friends. Paul Snow, one of my co-founders had come up with an interesting idea about how to create a blockchain that would allow enterprises to use the technology to secure data and systems. After reading his white paper on it, I knew I had to help make it a reality.  

Is there anything else you’d like to share?

Blockchain is in its infancy, and we have a long way to go. I'm excited to be part of this new industry and technology.

 

Download a complimentary PDF of the first chapter of ‘Blockchain For Dummies’ from IDG Connect or visit Wiley to purchase a copy.

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