Let's start with the big one. Plug the question into Google and you'll get any number of attempts at an answer. Blockchain is like the net of a soccer goal, like DNA
, like our "pattern of thought"
, like Google Docs
(this one's actually pretty good).
But it's not nearly as complicated as these extended metaphors would have you believe. Seriously.
The blockchain is a method for digital record-keeping that doesn't require a central authority to verify its data. That's it.
Obviously there's a lot more complexity when you get into the actual execution of making those digital records secure, but that's it. It's also a deceptively simple idea, because the potential applications for the blockchain are seemingly infinite.
Imagine your bank without any wire fees or ATM charges; a digital music file that can't be pirated from a musician; or Facebook without Mark Zuckerberg. Theoretically all of these things are possible (as well as some admittedly preposterous ideas) because of blockchain technology.