I came across an great image courtesy of Niel Harper’s Linkedin profile comparing how blockchain platforms relate with day to day applications. This is a great visual by Matteo Gianpietro Zago of The Internet of Blockchain Foundation.

diversity of blockchain technologies

Image by Matteo Gianpietro Zago of The Internet of Blockchain Foundation

A blockchain is a continuously growing list of records called blocks, which continues to grow as new records are added on top of each other. The blocks are linked and secured using cryptography (NARAYANAN, Arvind et al., 2016). Blockchain enables storage, validation, authorisation, and moving digital transactions across the Internet. The blockchain has its origin with the Bitcoin, which is a cryptocurrency, a form of virtual money and was the first blockchain implementation, conceptualised by a paper released in 2008 by Satoshi Nakamoto (NAKAMOTO, Satoshi, 2008).

Considering that coinmarketcap.com is now monitoring over 10,000 markets, this graphic above may not even have scratched the surface. It may not have captured the obscure blockchain technologies that will disrupt the market. But it is a great start nevertheless.

According to Matteo Gianpietro Zago, the technologies on the right of the image above represents web3.0, while those on the left represent web2.0. e makes good points on interoperability, uninterrupted services, and permissionless blockchain. In Web2.0, data has coalesced in a few individuals, the Google and Facebook of this world. He sees Web3.0 bringing decentralised platforms where information is not under the control of a few. I see this not materialising. To me, data is like wealth … it is really wealth. Wealth has a way of accumulating with the few, the majority being the cogs that drive the wealth to the few. In web3.0, or in a decentraised internet, it will not be any different. The schemers will still find a way of accumulating data, and influence, and control into the hands of a few. A good example has been the Bitcoin core scaling debates. Control of Bitcoin core has still remained in the hands of a few. These are entities who have already booked a seat at the table, running mining servers, learning the tech, contributing to the core tech, innovating and re-inventing. They already have a headstart. And the big multinationals have not been left behind. IBM, Google, Oracle, and Microsoft have already plunged into experimenting with blockchains.

Anyway, the purpose of this writeup is to appreciate how easy it is now to compare distributed decentralized applications to their non distributed counterparts as shown below. It makes it easier for beginners in the blockchain and crptocurrency tech to understand what the new tech is doing, and the problem it is trying to solve.

COMPUTATIONAL APPLICATIONS
Microsoft, AWS, IBM >> elastic, golem, somn, enigma, dadi

FILE STORAGE APPLICATIONS
Dropbox, icloud, amazon, onedrive >> IPFS, Filecoin, storj, maidsafe

CARD PROVIDERS
skrill, viapay, Visa >> Monaco, bitwala, bitpay

CONTENT MONITIZATION and DISTRIBUTION
Medium, WordPress, Tumblr >> Steemit, Alis, Tron, Synereo, Primas

SUPPLY CHAIN
FedEx, Alibaba, UPS >> Vechain, Origintrail, Shipchain

SOCIAL NETWORKS
Instagaram, Facebook, Twitter >> Akasha, Crypviser, QunQun

SHARING ECONOMY
Airbnb, Overnight, Vacasa >> Rentberry, Cryptobnb, Bee

MARKETPLACE
Amazon, Ebay, Alibaba, Craiglist >> Datum, syscoin, bitpay, openbazaar, bitjob, Safex, digix, power ledger

GAMING
Expekt, pinnacle sports, Battlefy >> Enjin, NoLimitCoin, Skincoin, Blocklord, Cryptokitties


The Blockchain Workshops came to Nairobi for the first time in December 2016.

Enthusiasts flocked to the event at Strathmore University. The attendance was made more of blockchain techies, programmers, lawyers, and bounty hunters :). Well, most of us just had a vague idea of what blockchains were. Maybe they are bitcoins, or are they crypto-currencies? And of course 99% though of them as alternative currencies.

What we refused to understand is that blockchains is a technology that allows distributed immutable smart contracts. The nodes performing the distribution get points for participating in the blockchain grid. And those points are what are generally called crypocurrencies. And the process of writing the distributed ledger for any blockchain transaction is what is called mining. You get some sort of points when you mine. Depending on the network you use, the point can be called a bitcoin, an ether, etc. Well easy, is it not?

Well, my explanation my be off hook. So here is what Wikipedia has to say; “Blockchain is a distributed database that maintains a continuously-growing list of ordered records called blocks. Each block contains a timestamp and a link to a previous block. By design blockchains are inherently resistant to modification of the data – once recorded, the data in a block cannot be altered retroactively”

Prof. Nii Quaynor, one of the Internet Pioneers in Africa set the scene by showing how adoption of new technology happens around the world. It seemed just like in the adoption of the internet, Africa was alos lugging behind in embracing blockchain technology.

The blockchain legends were around. The one who generated the most interest was Vitalik Buterin, the 22 year old co-founder of Ethereum. Ethereum is a publicly assessable, distributed blockchain computing platform that implements smart contract functionality.

So I had to engage Vitalik. “What is your take on hard forks, especially the hard fork that was done on Ethereum when DAO was hacked. Does that jeopardise the credibility of blockchains which are billed to have distributed immutable transactions. Example if we implement a banking platform, or land registry system using Ethereum, the public will just claim transactions are reversible”.

Vitalik’s answer was measured and calm, very pragmatic I must say from a 22 year old. He said that systems have to be adaptable. And as the popularity of blockchain technologies mature, including ethereum, it will be more difficult to apply hard forks. And hard forks are a matter of political decisions.

The public was surprised to learn from the government of Kenya, through a statement read on behalf of the Minister of ICT Joe Mucheru that the government is working with IBM to deploy blockchain applications in government service. Three areas they are working on is land, education, and medical records.