Blockchain technology, one of the most buzzed-about yet least understood technological innovations of recent years, is at a point similar to where the Internet was in the mid-1990s or peer-to-peer file-sharing services were in the late 1990s: ready for takeoff. The Economist has cited blockchain’s “extraordinary potential” in business, since it enables people who have no particular confidence in each other to collaborate without having to go through a neutral central authority. Simply put, blockchain is “a machine for creating trust...A shared public ledger, an apparently mundane process (like double-entry book-keeping and the joint stock company) that has the potential to transform how people and businesses cooperate.”
Blockchain is the technology underlying bitcoin. But that cryptocurrency application is both a curiosity and small potatoes compared to the broader and more important applications of blockchain technology that are starting to develop. Fundamentally, a blockchain is a ledger for recording transactions. Unlike a traditional ledger, however, a blockchain database is transparent—anyone online can read, but not alter, its contents. It's a distributed database, so the information it stores is spread among many computers around the world, making it difficult to destroy.
Thanks to the brilliant design work of its pseudonymous creator, a blockchain database resists any subsequent manipulation of its stored transactions, even by the owners of the computers it is stored on. When it comes to anything from a stock trade to a copyright registration about, say, a song, or whether a particular transaction happened on Monday or Tuesday, blockchain enables you to be certain.
Lisa Gansky’s book will be an overview for “the rest of us,” i.e. the non-techies who will need to understand the potential of blockchain and how it can be put to work. Its potential in business—from financial services, to governmental records, to entrepreneurs with intellectual property concerns—is about to be unleashed.
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Lisa Gansky is an entrepreneur, investor, speaker, and author of The Mesh: Why the Future of Business Is Sharing. Gansky designs new products, policies, services, partnerships, and business models where access—to goods, services, and talent—triumphs over ownership. She invests, advises, speaks, and writes on the topics of innovation, collaboration, and the sharing economy.
As CEO, co-founder, and chairman of Ofoto, Gansky developed the company into the leading global photo-sharing service. In addition to her roles at Ofoto and Eastman Kodak, she was co-founder and CEO of the first commercial website, GNN, which was acquired by AOL in 1995. She then directed Internet Services for AOL through 1997. She has been an investor and board member of more than thirty internet and mobile services companies. Currently, Gansky is Chief Instigator of Instigating+Co and Mesh Ventures, and an advisor and investor in BRCK, Breather, Everledger, Honest Buildings, Instructables (sold to Autodesk), Makani Power (sold to Google), OpenRov, Other Machine Co., RelayRides, Sidecar, Science Exchange, Solar Mosaic, StealthCo., TaskRabbit, Traity, Tripping, and Yerdle.
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