blockchain blog topics

Emin Gün Sirer of Cornell University tells the MIT conference how to build blockchains right.

Let’s say you want to put a marketing stake in the ground around blockchain (networks of encrypted ledgers that automatically assure the accuracy of data and transactions without the need for a central authority.)

You’re convinced there’s real potential, but are not sure exactly where you fit in the market and how it will all play out. How do you begin building your reputation, making contacts and getting feedback and partners for your technology or business plan?

Based on sessions at the recent “Business of Blockchain” event, organized by MIT Technology Review and the MIT Media Lab, and my own blockchain marketing work, here are 15 quick hit questions you can blog about even if you’re not a blockchain expert. (Check out videos of the event here.)

Legal and Regulatory Issues

  1. What levels of assurance (if any) will central banks need before allowing the use of alternative currencies?
  2. What changes to laws and contract terms will individuals and companies need to safely rely on blockchain transactions?
  3. In the absence of banks and auditors, who will determine when a blockchain transaction has failed or when a ledger entry has been compromised?
  4. How will responsibility (legal and financial) be apportioned for the failure of blockchain transactions? Who will mediate such disputes – the courts or the parties themselves, in true “peer to peer” fashion?
  5. At what point, if any, should governments or industry groups step in to define blockchain standards and implement auditing systems?
  6. Can and should blockchain operate less like a traditional market and more like an open source project or Internet working group where many participants are motivated as much by a passion for the technology as by profit?
  7. Where should the traceability of a virtual currency stop, and who should its trail of ownership be visible to? If a bitcoin has been owned by a drug dealer or terrorist, should law enforcement have access to that information? If others can see a virtual currency’s checkered ownership history, does that reduce its value and thus make it less usable than current currencies?
  8. What is the best balance between “Big Brother” surveillance and the “Wild West” of a completely anonymous cyber- or cryptocurrency?

Technical and Implementation Issues

  1. Which are better: Permission-based blockchains that limit who may participate or permission-less blockchains open to all? The permission-based approach gives you more control, but risks creating an enterprise-specific silo that limits adoption. As with clouds, will these two flavors of blockchain merge over time? Why or why not?
  2. How many nodes on the blockchain must agree to deem a transaction or data entry valid? How might this change for different business needs? Who gets to decide which approach to use and how to determine the “voting rights” of the nodes?
  3. How do you cost-effectively develop and deploy different code for different blockchain nodes, to reduce the danger of the same vulnerability exposing all nodes to the same attack?
  4. How do you find “low hanging fruit” use cases that prove the value of blockchain in the short run (such as reduced transaction costs) to drive wider acceptance in the long run?
  5. What technical mechanisms should organizations use to prove the identity of those on the blockchain? How do you determine how much proof of identity you need for different transaction types, and with whom will you share that information?
  6. How much “scalability” and “robustness” does your blockchain require for various use cases, and how do you provide that scalability?
  7. To what extent will your blockchains need to interoperate with your legacy systems, and how will you accomplish that?

Don’t Sell. Explore Possibilities Instead

The blockchain movement is bottom up, not top down, evolving constantly with new standards, technologies and even definitions of terms. This is not “selling” to a known group of decision makers but organic, many-to-many discussion brainstorming. Be informed and have an opinion, but use your content marketing at this stage to scout for partners and build awareness of your expertise even as you seek help from others.

Finally, if you’re serious about blockchain be prepared to keep creating content for the long haul. As Amber Baldet,  blockchain program lead at  J.P. Morgan told the conference, her hope is to develop an open source community that builds a “market infrastructure for the next 20-30 years that supports the trust and robustness we need.”  That means a lot of thinking, talking, and communicating still to come.

Author: Bob Scheier
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I'm a veteran IT trade press reporter and editor with a passion for clear writing that explains how technology can help businesses. To learn more about my content marketing services, email bob@scheierassociates.com or call me at 508 725-7258.

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