In his last Friday’s article on Medium, Nic Carter unpacks the meaning of the word ‘blockchain’ and urges people to use it more consciously
Nic Carter, a co-founder of Coinmetrics.io, says that the meaning of ‘blockchain’ has been diluted to the extent that the word now defies the English grammar itself by refusing to have an article. It is not the blockchain, neither is it a blockchain. It is just capitalized Blockchain.
‘Blockchain’, Nic explains, is now a marketing tool for countless ICOs and IBMs of the world that have little to nothing to do with actual ‘chains of hash-based proof-of-works’, which is the precise term Nakamoto used in the whitepaper.
With that said, the Bitcoin data structure is in fact a chain of blocks in that it is a linear collection of data elements each referencing its predecessor. But this is not the only defining criterion of a blockchain. The more important aspect of a blockchain is the proof-of-work network consensus that makes such architecture resistant to any unilateral attempt to change or censor it, whereas enterprise, private and permissioned ledgers fail meet this criterion.
Nic then hypothesizes an alternative turn of events in which Bitcoin was never invented and doubts that many of the currently popular ‘blockchain’ projects would remain so. He names Ripple, Corda, Hyperledger, Litecoin, and Ethereum as riding on the massive popularity of Bitcoin.
The word ‘blockchain’ itself, Nic says, does not do due justice to the novel trustless and censorless way of storing and recording data. He emphasizes the importance of using the word ‘blockchain’ more consciously, quotes an excerpt on Newspeak from Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four and explains:
Nic addresses private blockchainers urging them to be honest about what they are building; computer scientists to stop mocking laypeople for using the word in a general diluted sense; and regulators to use more specific terms like ‘public blockchains’.