“So what exactly is Blockchain?”
We’ve all heard the question before. Perhaps it was an aunt at last year’s family Christmas gathering. Perhaps it’s your friend over coffee. Or maybe it’s a potential customer. The truth is, this question gets asked a lot. How do we answer it?
Google pretty much sums up every techie’s answer: Blockchain is, “a digital ledger in which transactions made in bitcoin or another cryptocurrency are recorded chronologically and publicly.” My guess however, is that your old aunt Susan lost you at “digital ledger.”
(Illustration above by Herbert Sim, entitled “Bull vs Bear: Blockchain Technology & CryptoCurrency”)
The one thing Blockchain needs is explainers.
Few of us blockchain junkies realize what people are asking us when they ask “what is Blockchain?” We hear their question as “how does Blockchain work,” when we should instead be hearing, “why should I care about Blockchain?”
Think for a moment about a time you’ve had to take your car to the shop. You know something isn’t working, and you know it needs to be fixed. When it comes time for the mechanic to explain to you why your car isn’t working though, it feels like she’s speaking in another language. This is what explaining experts call “the curse of knowledge.”
The mechanic is so used to talking about cars the way she does, that she’s forgotten what it feels like to not know how to talk about cars. Unfortunately, this gives her a certain reputation for being confusing, and the perceived cost of your car repair goes up. Not only do you have to pay for your car, but you have to spend your time trying to understand why you should pay for it!
In the same way, if Blockchain is going to be successful, if it’s going to be as viral as the Justin Bieber, normal, everyday people like your aunt Susan need to know why they should care.
If your mechanic knew how to explain why this new part should matter to you (instead, perhaps, of explaining how it works), the perceived cost of replacing that part becomes much lower. You no longer have to spend the time mentally grappling with the idea. You know you should care.
In the same way, once your aunt Susan understands that Blockchain can make her life much, much better, the cost of her learning more also becomes lower. Odds are her next question will be, “so how can I get involved?”
It has been exactly five years since I founded Crypto Chain University, with the vision of compiling Cryptocurrency and Blockchain research papers and publications, but the one thing Blockchain needs is explainers.
These explainers could come from people like you (who are most likely way overqualified and technically experienced and savvy) or it could come from people like me (who is just in this because I enjoy it). Either way, Blockchain experts need to overcome their own curse of knowledge. And there’s only one way to do that.