A blockchain for that…?

Continuing the theme of “do you need a blockchain for that?”, consider the following questions:

I am often presented with “We use blockchain to solve X”.  It’s tiring.


  1. What problem are you solving? Why?
  2. What friction does using a blockchain remove from a system? What friction does it add?
  3. What value does it really add?
  4. What human challenges are still present when you apply a blockchain to this issue?
  5. Is the ‘trust issue’ one that is really going away with the application of a technology?
  6. What would happen if I asked you to “Use email to solve X”?

How would you feel, instead, asking your team/managers/shareholders/board:

“Does a permanent public contract help this situation?”

“Should we build a permanent, immutable and public database of transactions for this?”

It’s the known-known that in all tech hype cycles people seem to run around with the new tech hammer looking for nails. This is usually quite a short cycle, but blockchain has seemed highly resistant to being treated as a another tool in the bag. Probably because it’s a catchy name.

Further, are we:

  1. undermining second hand markets by ‘unleashing DRM’ on everything?
  2. destroying of the grey economy (if/when crypto becomes regulated)?
  3. creating an accidental new ‘mainframe’ that gets embedded in a way we can’t unpick for decades…  like the mainframes in banking that we built (for good reasons) 30-40 years ago?
  4. creating a new risk that immutable [transaction] data will lead to recombination of personal data?
    (nb: some people tell me that, for example, their chain only contains pointers to data elsewhere. I’m not convinced this either makes the ‘need’ for an immutable ledger clearer or whether it’ll actually make recombination harder)

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