A blockchain is a distributed database that is used to maintain a continuously growing list of records, called blocks. Each block contains a timestamp and a link to a previous block. A blockchain is typically managed by a peer-to-peer network collectively adhering to a protocol for validating new blocks. By design, blockchains are inherently resistant to modification of the data. Once recorded, the data in any given block cannot be altered retroactively without the alteration of all subsequent blocks and the collusion of the network. Functionally, a blockchain can serve as "an open, distributed ledger that can record transactions between two parties efficiently and in a verifiable and permanent way. The ledger itself can also be programmed to trigger transactions automatically."
Blockchains are secure by design and are an example of a distributed computing system with high byzantine fault tolerance. Decentralized consensus can therefore be achieved with a blockchain. This makes blockchains potentially suitable for the recording of events, medical records, and other records management activities, identity management, transaction processing, and documenting provenance.
The first blockchain was conceptualised by Satoshi Nakamoto in 2008 and implemented the following year as a core component of the digital currency bitcoin, where it serves as the public ledger for all transactions. The invention of the blockchain for bitcoin made it the first digital currency to solve the double spending problem, without the use of a trusted authority or central server. The bitcoin design has been the inspiration for other applications.
With the blockchain technology it has become possible to securely timestamp information in a decentralized and tamper-proof manner. Digital data can be hashed and the hash can be incorporated into a transaction stored in the blockchain, which serves as a secure proof of the exact time at which that data existed. The proof is due to a tremendous amount of computational effort performed after the hash was submitted to the blockchain. Tampering with the timestamp would also lead to breaking the integrity of the entire digital currency, and this would result in the digital currency devaluing to zero.
The Steem Reports site, part of Steem Ecosystem, offer a simple service calculates a sha256 hash of any file you select, and allows you to copy/paste it into your Steem post for a basic kind of copy protection. It allows you to prove using the Steem blockchain that you had access to the file on the date you posted it. Although the trustfull and powerfull technology, as legislation differ from country to country, this may confer no legal protection and can not be grant whether this method would constitute legal evidence.
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Steemit runs on top of a decentralized network named Steem. Like Bitcoin, Steem is a blockchain with transferable tokens. In addition to moving tokens from one place to another, Steem is also a text content and metadata database that applications or websites can connect to. Through these apps, Steem accounts can transact and interact with the Steem database. Instead of using cryptographic hashes as addresses like many blockchains do, user-chosen alphanumeric account names are used. With human readable account names, transactions can be made directly from an identity to an identity, making them easier to understand than hashes.
Steem also reaches decentralized consensus differently than Bitcoin. It uses a method called delegated proof of stake where block-creating accounts, called witnesses, are elected by Steem stakeholders. Instead of relying on proof of work to find blocks, the Steem network actively schedules these accounts to improve the time between blocks to 3 seconds. Block producers are given a small part of the rewards created in each block; the rest is paid to authors and curators.
Steem has no transaction fees for rate limiting or to pay its block producers. Instead, accounts use bandwidth, which replenishes fast enough that a typical user is not affected or limited.
While steemit.com is the first and reference front-end website interface for the blockchain content of Steem, the network's open and permissionless nature allows third-party websites and apps to connect and interact with the Steem database. Several have been created by third parties. These offer alternative interface designs or features such as Instagram-style image posting. Busy.org is a Steem-interacting website with an alternative user interface. eSteem is a Steem-interacting Android and iOS app. A forum-style application called chainBB is also available.
Non-Steemit apps and websites use the same Steem user credentials as used on Steemit. This is possible because the user account and password are part of the network database, using public-key cryptography. Only the user who owns an account can authenticate actions such as commenting, voting, or transferring with their password or appropriate key. Each account has a set of private keys with different access privileges. The lowest security level key allows posting, commenting and voting, but not transfers of currency. Therefore with a hierarchy of keys, it is possible to use other Steem-connected apps without risking a loss of funds or account control.
- Trusted timestamping Wikipedia, retrieved in January 19, 2018
- File Hashing Tool (for timestamping) Service descriiption on Steem Reports, retrieved in January 19, 2018
- @patrice : The Blockchain Doesn't Lie & Adding Value to Steemit.com September 8, 2016
- @luzcypher : Steem Is The Most Used And Undervalued Blockchain Of All Blockchains December 21, 2017
- @heiditravels : Blockchain Generations: From Bitcoin to Smart Contracts and Graphene January 17, 2018
- Wikipedia : Blockchain Retrieved in 6/1/2017
- Wikipedia : Steemit #Steem Blockchain Retrieved in 6/1/2017
- CNet : Someone wrote a kids' book to explain bitcoin and blockchain Written by Mark Serrels in 4/29/2018
- MIT Technology Review : In blockchain we trust Written by Michael J. Casey and Paul Vigna in 4/9/2018
- Inc. : Blockchain Is the Future, But It's Confusing. Here's an Explanation in Plain English Written by Arianna O'Dell in 4/5/2018
- Venture Beat : Blockchains aren’t just tech, they’re new economic systems Written by Jeremy Epstein in 4/1/2018
- Enterprise Irregulars : The top 5 enterprise blockchain platforms you need to know about Written by Phil Fersht in 3/19/2018
- CNet : Blockchain explained: It builds trust when you need it most Written by Stephen Shankland in 2/12/2018
- Deloitte : Blockchain: A technical primer Written by unsigned in 2/6/2018.
- Wired : The Wired Guide to the blockchain Written by Klint Finley in 2/1/2018
- The Guardian : Blockchain: so much bigger than bitcoin… Written by Ian Tucker in 1/28/2018
- The Guardian : Bitcoin is a bubble, but the technology behind it could transform the world Written byWill Hutton in 12/24/2017.
- The Next Web : 26,000 blockchain projects launched in 2016, 92 percent are now dead Written by Lisa Froelings in 11/9/2017
- Harvard Business Review : The Promise of Blockchain Is a World Without Middlemen Written by Vinay Gupta in 3/6/2017
- McKinsey&Company : How blockchains could change the world Interview with Don Tapscott (author of the book Blockchain Revolution) by Rik Kirkland, published in May 2016
- Aeon : In proof we trust Written by Dominic Frisby in 4/21/2016
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