A blockchain is a permanent, yet ever-evolving record of actions. These records are grouped together in “blocks” of data that are then linked together in a massive chronological chain. New records get added to new blocks, and once a block is filled it gets added to the end of the chain. A block that has been added to the chain cannot be removed or changed.
Blockchains can also be thought of as a type of ledger or database.
There are many different blockchains with various characteristics, but the kind you’ve probably heard the most about are decentralized blockchains. Decentralized blockchains are extremely powerful because no individual or company controls them. Instead, lots of different people all over the world come together to take care of them, build things on top of them, and share in the benefits they create. Decentralization is good because it means no bad actors, corrupt governments, or greedy corporations can monopolize or disrupt the network. The people own and control the blockchain collectively.
Ethereum is the most popular decentralized blockchain because it is extremely secure, widely trusted, and actively developed. It also is highly scalable thanks to the number of projects that are compatible with it. Furthermore, no one is paying people to use and create on Ethereum. Whereas some blockchains attempt to grow through marketing and incentives, Ethereum has grown naturally as a public good rather than a private venture.
It’s been around for over 5 years and has weathered many storms, thus increasing its trustworthiness.
What can blockchains be used for?
Ethereum, unlike Bitcoin, can hold many different types of records such as financial data, cultural artifacts, and even useful software. This flexibility has caused Ethereum to be one of the most diverse ecosystems out of any other blockchain — artists, scholars, researchers, developers, scientists, and gamers are all able to use Ethereum in creative ways. Ethereum is for everyone.
Why is it good to use a popular blockchain like Ethereum?
When more people use the same blockchain, the blockchain works better for everyone. This is similar to how all telephone users benefit from everyone else using telephones because it makes everyone reachable. Text messages wouldn’t be nearly as useful if only a few people used them.