Bitcoin is starting to come into its own as a digital currency, but the blockchain technology behind it could prove to be much more significant. This book takes you beyond the currency ("Blockchain 1.0") and smart contracts ("Blockchain 2.0") to demonstrate how the blockchain is in position to become the fifth disruptive computing paradigm after mainframes, PCs, the Internet, and mobile/social networking.
Author Melanie Swan, Founder of the Institute for Blockchain Studies, explains that the blockchain is essentially a public ledger with potential as a worldwide, decentralized record for the registration, inventory, and transfer of all assets—not just finances, but property and intangible assets such as votes, software, health data, and ideas.
Concepts, features, and functionality of Bitcoin and the blockchain
Using the blockchain for automated tracking of all digital endeavors
Creating a decentralized digital repository to verify identity
Possibility of cheaper, more efficient services traditionally provided by nations
Blockchain for science: making better use of the data-mining network
Personal health record storage, including access to one’s own genomic data
Open access academic publishing on the blockchain
This book is part of an ongoing O’Reilly series. Mastering Bitcoin: Unlocking Digital Crypto-Currencies introduces Bitcoin and describes the technology behind Bitcoin and the blockchain. Blockchain: Blueprint for a New Economy considers theoretical, philosophical, and societal impact of cryptocurrencies and blockchain technologies.
Chapter 1Blockchain 1.0: Currency
Technology Stack: Blockchain, Protocol, Currency
The Double-Spend and Byzantine Generals’ Computing Problems
How a Cryptocurrency Works
Summary: Blockchain 1.0 in Practical Use
Chapter 2Blockchain 2.0: Contracts
Bitcoin Prediction Markets
Blockchain 2.0 Protocol Projects
Wallet Development Projects
Blockchain Development Platforms and APIs
Blockchain Ecosystem: Decentralized Storage, Communication, and Computation
Ethereum: Turing-Complete Virtual Machine
Dapps, DAOs, DACs, and DASs: Increasingly Autonomous Smart Contracts
The Blockchain as a Path to Artificial Intelligence
Chapter 3Blockchain 3.0: Justice Applications Beyond Currency, Economics, and Markets
Blockchain Technology Is a New and Highly Effective Model for Organizing Activity
Melanie Swan is the Founder of the Institute for Blockchain Studies and a Contemporary Philosophy MA candidate at Kingston University London and Université Paris VIII. She has a traditional markets background with an MBA in Finance from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, and work experience at Fidelity and JP Morgan. She has a new markets background as an entrepreneur and advisor to startups GroupPurchase and Prosper, and developed virtual world digital asset valuation and accounting principles for Deloitte. She was involved in the early stages of the Quantified Self movement, and founded DIYgenomics in 2010, an organization that pioneered the crowdsourced health research study. She is an instructor at Singularity University, an Affiliate Scholar at the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies, and a contributor to the Edge’s Annual Essay Question.
The animal on the cover of Blockchain is a Hungarian grey bull, a breed of domestic bull once thought to have been brought into central Europe from beyond the Carpathian mountains during the 9th-century beginnings of the Hungarian conquest. It is now known only that the breed existed in great numbers by the beginning of the 15th century, when it was already being exported in large quantities to other cities in Europe.
The toughness and adaptability of the Hungarian grey breed have made its oxen valuable as draft animals for centuries. It survives well in conditions of great freedom and so is suited to grazing on ample pasture lands. It reportedly acclimates well to a wide range of climates, and Hungarian grey heifers are reputed to be less likely to experience dystocia, or calving difficulty.
Elimination of pastures in the late 19th and early 20th centuries represented the first in a series of threats to the Hungarian grey's existence. Farm mechanization in the same period relaxed demand for the breed's abilities as a draft animal, and attempts to upgrade the Hungarian grey by crosses with other central European cattle further reduced the number in existence. Since a 1962 count put the number of Hungarian grey bulls alive at 6, however, enlightened breeding efforts have restored the stock to a population sufficient for maintaining genetic diversity. Largely restricted to national parks in Hungary, the breed now serves as an important genetic resource.
Many of the animals on O'Reilly covers are endangered; all of them are important to the world. To learn more about how you can help, go to animals.oreilly.com.
The cover image is from Cassell's Natural History. The cover fonts are URW Typewriter and Guardian Sans. The text font is Adobe Minion Pro; the heading font is Adobe Myriad Condensed; and the code font is Dalton Maag's Ubuntu Mono.
Gone are the times when you could blindly pick up an O'Reilly title and get an excellent concise book about a technical subject.
"Blockchain" is neither technical nor concise. It reads like big marketing buzz with a lot of repetition without really saying much (blockchain is the 6th most common word in the book, appearing over 950 times).
It does point to a lot of interesting projects which may be valuable to some.
I don't know why it was disguised as an "animal book" and the brand suffered.
Bottom Line No, I would not recommend this to a friend
The author did a good job of passionately describing both current and potential value of the blockchain outside it's use in crypto currencies. However, I felt that a little less passion and more technical detail would have been a major improvement. I don't ask for nitty-gritty programmer level detail, but having read the book I still don't have a clue as to how the blockchain can be used for even currencies, let alone anything else. Personally, I need something more than 'distributed, cryptographically secure ledger' to grasp the implications.
Bottom Line No, I would not recommend this to a friend
A comprehensive and inspiring executive overview of the present, near future and ultimate potential of Bitcoin-style blockchain systems. If you want to know what's happening now and next in cryptocurrency, and to get a glimpse of its ultimate benefits for society, this is an absolute must-read.
Swan explains the technology, economics, regulation and uses of blockchain technology with extensive references and a solid theoretical grounding. This leads through existing and upcoming uses of blockchains for money (of course), genomics, culture, voting, shares and so on through the upcoming technologies of smart contracts and Distributed Autonomous Organizations to transhumanist flights of fancy such as (inter-)planetary-scale and brain-based economies based on the blockchain. Even if you don't share the vision of a civilizational blockchain future it's a useful though experiment and an illustration of the sense of potential that this technology inspires in people.
There's an error of fact on the first page that's repeated a couple of times later in the book, some of the projects mentioned have changed names or been cancelled since their inclusion in it, and there are a handful of typesetting mistakes in the printed version. These are minor concerns though, this is still a five star book. One that makes a compelling case for how a new technology may be able to change the world.
Bottom Line Yes, I would recommend this to a friend