It’s official: buzzwords from cryptocurrency and the tech that drives it have been included in our dictionaries. These “new” words have made the leap from post-work conversations over drinks and water cooler chats to codification in our bastions of language.
2018 saw the Merriam-Webster dictionary adding words and phrases such as blockchain and crypto to their pages.
Of course, the job of dictionaries is to describe language that people actually use. If enough people are using certain words then dictionaries codify them as lexical items in their own right.
As Merriam-Webster puts it, “if you’re likely to encounter a word in the wild” then it deserves recognition.
The Buzz around the Block(chain)
The hype over cryptocurrencies, and their rapid rises and falls, has been on a lot of people’s minds of late. But it’s the blockchain, the tech that drives the digital currencies, that could cause radical changes to how we manage ownership and digital property.
While the value of the cryptocurrencies themselves fluctuate, and sometimes wildly, the value of the buzzword “blockchain” remains an enticing and lucrative idea that investors are scrambling to get involved in.
Before we get into the buzz though, what exactly is the blockchain? Let’s take a look.
What is the blockchain?
The blockchain is an open-source ledger which is decentralised. Blockchain technology means that people can both create and manage digital property, such as cryptocurrencies, independently of banks and other third parties. All entries to the blockchain ledger are time stamped and stored as code across a wide network of computers, providing a measure of accessibility and transparency.
Why does this matter?
Blockchain technology has the potential to disrupt and dramatically change the ways in which we make and manage transactions. Intermediaries such as lawyers, bankers, and brokers may become redundant as the blockchain technology validates and safely records transactions for us instead. In an increasingly digital world, the administration and management of our property needs to change to keep up.
This said, it is important to remember that blockchain tech is still relatively new. There will be many barriers that have to fall, both societal and bureaucratic, before we see wide-spread use across industries. Is it all hype or will the technology really seep into our daily lives? Only time can really tell us, but experts are saying that the blockchain is here to stay and are touting it as a lasting digital revolution.
With that in mind, let’s get our heads around some of those blockchain buzzwords that we’ll all be increasingly encountering in the wild.
Buzzwords to Wrap your Mouth and Mind Around
Like all fields and industries, blockchain and cryptocurrency have a meta language of their own. As awareness and recognition increases we’ll likely hear more and more of this lingo.
Without further ado, here’s our buzzword glossary:
Peer-to-peer. The decentralised interactions between parties in an interconnected network. P2P participants deal with each other directly through a mediation point.
Initial Coin Offering. Refers to the initial creation and then sale of digital tokens. These tokens are then sold to the public, normally in exchange for bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies. ICOs are now being used as start-up funds for new businesses.
Cryptocurrency addresses. Addresses are used to receive and send transactions on the network. Addresses are a string of alphanumeric characters and are sometimes represented as a scannable QR code.
A distributed ledger used by two or more parties. Used to negotiate and reach agreement.
The most well-known cryptocurrency.
The collection of technologies used by Bitcoin’s specific ledger. The currency is itself one of these technologies.
A form of digital currency based on maths. Encryption techniques regulate the generation of units of currency and then verify the transfer of funds. Cryptocurrencies operate independently of a central bank or third party.
An online identity adopted or claimed in cyberspace. These digital identities can be held by individuals, organisations, and electronic devices.
Ethereum is an open software platform. It is based on blockchain technology and allows developers to both build and deploy decentralised applications. Similarly to Bitcoin, Ethereum is an openly distributed, and public, blockchain network. The key difference between the two blockchain applications is that the Bitcoin chain is used exclusively to track ownership of cryptocurrencies and the Ethereum chain is focused on running the programming code of decentralised applications.
An actor or agent who can access the ledger, read records, or add records to it.
A currency which is issued by an individual or firm, typically secured against uninsured assets.
A payment network built on ledgers which can be used to transfer any currency.
A ledger with one master copy of the data and many slave copies. Master copies are authoritative and slave copies non-authoritative.
A smart contract is a contract whose terms are recorded in a computer language instead of standard legalese.
A digital version of a billfold. Online wallets store and save digital property.
Phew… we feel smarter already, if slightly overwhelmed. Are you up on all the latest blockchain buzz? Drop us a comment below if we missed anything crucial!