Influencer Fatigue

These days, there seems like there is nothing that is safe from being posted on an influencers’ Instagram account. From presidential campaigns to blockchain, every conceivable product, service, vacation spot, and vegan smoothie bar has probably ended up on some influencer’s Instagram page at some point. Have we reached the saturation point? 

An “influencer” is a discount version of a celebrity. They both fulfill the same function in marketing and ad campaigns — to convince the consumer to buy a product. Sponsored posts on influencers’ Instagram pages have replaced glossy ad campaigns featuring the celebrity of the month as the key strategy companies use to get their products to the masses. 

When social media was new and influencers were few and far between, this strategy was more effective. In the late 2000s to early 2010s, the novelty of influencers was that they were regular people just like us. We no longer had to rely on paparazzi shots of celebrities in sweatpants getting coffee to have something to relate to. Influencers were more like our friends. They posted photos of themselves doing #relatable things like walking their dogs and cleaning their houses. They were pretty and popular without being out of reach. Once this dynamic had been firmly established, it was easier for them to convince you to buy a detoxing tea or hair loss shampoo. It was just like listening to your friends, after all. Don’t we usually trust our friends to recommend new things to us? However, the relationship between influencer and follower that made them such good spokesmodels for products doesn’t seem to have transferred to the current generation of youths. It seems that kids these days aren’t really influenced anymore.

According to a report by Ofcom, the UK government’s regulatory authority for communications, 18-24 year-olds spent 10 and a half minutes looking at Instagram each day last September, down from more than 15 minutes the previous year. These young adults spent significantly more time on TikTok and Youtube, with usage of the two apps clocking in at over 30 minutes and one hour respectively. While it’s not clear that this is because of the unfettered reign of influencers over Instagram, it’s certainly no coincidence that the app has been declining in popularity with young adults since it shifted from a more personal app to a more commercialized one, especially since it was bought by Facebook. Whatever Instagram is selling, literally and figuratively, people just aren’t buying any more.

There are several reasons this could be the case. Influencers were easier to take when Instagram was new because they weren’t the only people on the app. It’s easy to forget now that Instagram started out as a place where you could share photos of your family and friends with your family and friends. Sure, sometimes it was nice to widen your circle outside people you knew in real life, and that’s where influencers came in. But over time, the friends and family faded away and the influencers took hold. If you have an Instagram account, scroll through your feed. How much of it is content from the people you know and love? And how much of it is influencers, celebrities, ads, and suggested posts?

The old adage “less is more” also holds true when it comes to the sheer volume of influencers. Companies now contract several influencers to promote their products. When you see the same weight loss pill on multiple peoples’ Instagram feeds, the illusion that your favorite influencer is your friend is broken. The implicit trust that the follower has in the influencer is the core of an influencer’s power. Once that is gone, it can be hard to get back. And once you start scrolling past an influencer’s post instead of hitting “like”, it means that you have now become immune to influencers. 

What actually makes an influencer? The traditional answer is that it depends on the number of followers they have. The more followers they have, the more they can charge for sponsored posts. Kim Kardashian, the original influencer, has more than 230 million followers and reportedly charges upwards of US$800,000 per sponsored post. It can be difficult to get to that level if you aren’t already a little famous (Kim and the Kardashians originally became known to the world through their E! reality show, Keeping Up with the Kardashians), as fame tends to beget fame. Some influencers choose to buy instagram likes to boost their popularity, which can be very effective—while others try to collaborate with their more famous colleagues to boost their profile. However, nowadays it seems like even the most micro of influencers have some kind of product deal in their pocket, which raises the question — if everyone can be an influencer, is anyone really an influencer?

This is not to say that influencers do not have their positive sides as well. Take cryptocurrency, the blockchain-based currency that is all the rage for novice and seasoned investors alike. The accessibility of cryptocurrency — you don’t need to set up a brokerage account, for example — makes it appealing to young investors. As a result, there is now a burgeoning industry of blockchain and cryptocurrency influencers. While there are some who will peddle the latest meme coin — like the popular dogecoin — for a quick buck, there are also accounts who answer questions on investing, give tips, and explain the ins and outs of cryptocurrency — what is blockchain and how does it work? — to their followers, increasing their followers’ financial literacy. But these influencers appeal to a niche crowd and have a specific target audience they appeal to. 

Perhaps we as a society have outgrown the concept of influencers. But if they truly want to make a comeback, they should think about going back to their roots and connecting with their followers on a more personal and authentic level. Maybe then the next time they want to promote the latest new skin or hair care product, we might actually listen.

Blockchain and Medicine

We've talked before on this blog about the potential applications of blockchain in medicine. I would like to share some more thoughts, as I think this is an area that is still poorly understood. For healthcare professionals, it is important to remember that blockchain is a technology that can be used to store many types of data in a decentralized way. We have already seen a number of projects that store patient data on blockchain.

But this is only the beginning - in the near future I believe we will see blockchain-based protocols that will allow patients to own their medical records and will give them the power to decide who to share them with and under what conditions. In this post I’d like to clear up some misconceptions about privacy in particular.

Background: What is Blockchain?

To understand how blockchain works, you need to have some basic knowledge of cryptography and a general understanding of how the internet works. Blockchain is a distributed database that allows parties to record transactions in a secure way. It is an open, distributed ledger that can record transactions between two parties efficiently and in a verifiable and permanent way.

What does this mean in simple terms? Imagine a spreadsheet that is duplicated thousands of times across a network of computers. Then imagine that this network is designed to regularly update this spreadsheet and you have a basic understanding of the blockchain. What makes the blockchain unique is that it is both distributed and immutable. This means that the data can't be altered. It can only be added to. The blockchain contains the history of every transaction and keeps track of who has what.

Blockchain in Healthcare

Blockchain technology, as we've seen, allows for the decentralization of medical records. This means that the information is stored and controlled by the patient. It is also public, so that researchers and other medical professionals have access to the data. This has the potential to reduce the cost of healthcare by reducing the need for error-prone manual data entry and by preventing malicious modification of data. The blockchain can also make it easier to share medical records between different institutions and countries.

The blockchain can also be used to store medical data that is generated by medical devices. It can also be used to store data from clinical trials, genomic research and electronic health records.

Standing Out

One of the most interesting aspects of blockchain in the medical context is the transparency it adds to the whole medical system. Think about this not just in terms of patient records, but also patient outcomes. If you're a medical practitioner, you probably want people to know what you're good at. Blockchain allows you to publicize this in a transparent and secure manner.

This benefits the patient as well as the service provider. Praxismarketing, as we would say in Germany, is very important, and a good marketing strategy will get you a long way - we know this much already. What the effects of blockchain will be here is speculative, but it's exciting to think about.

Blockchain and Anonymity

Of course, a database of public medical records sounds like a scary prospect. Who wants all their medical details exposed in a big online immutable ledger? The good news is that there are ways to anonymize data, so that you don't have to worry about your friends, family and coworkers knowing about your medical history. It's also possible to make it mandatory that certain pieces of information can be viewed only with your permission, or that certain data can't be viewed by certain people.

In the near future, I believe we will see a number of blockchain-based applications that will allow patients to own their medical records. These will be applications that are based on permissioned blockchains. They will allow patients to decide who can see their medical records and under what conditions. I also believe we will see blockchain-based applications that will allow patients to store their medical data in a decentralized manner. These apps could be used by patients to store data about their health and to track data about their medical history.

Permissioned Blockchains

What is the difference between a permissioned blockchain and a public blockchain? The main difference is that in a blockchain that is permissioned, only some parties have the ability to write to the ledger. This can be important when the parties want to ensure that they are the only ones who can write to the ledger. In a permissioned blockchain, the parties involved have to agree on the rules that govern the functioning of the blockchain.

The mathematics behind this security is complex, and to be honest I don't understand it completely. The basic idea is that by verifying a transaction, you essentially prove that you did the work to check that it adheres to the rules of the blockchain. The main advantage of this is that you can have a high degree of confidence that a transaction is valid. You can also have high confidence that the records are updated in a secure way.

Challenges on the Road Ahead

I believe that blockchain is going to have a big impact on medicine in the near future. The technology has the potential to improve the way we store data, the way we share data and the way we access data. But as with any new technology, there are challenges that need to be overcome.

The first challenge is speed. Right now, there are not many blockchain-based platforms that can process transactions quickly enough to be used in a real-world environment. The Bitcoin and Ethereum blockchains are slow and expensive, and other blockchains are still slower and more expensive.

The second challenge is scalability. The data stored in a blockchain grows linearly, so it's important to make sure that the blockchain can scale as the amount of data stored on it increases. In addition, there is a big difference between the number of transactions that are made on test networks and the number of transactions made on the mainnet. If the network can't handle the number of transactions that are being made on it, the system will be unusable.

The third challenge is privacy. The security measures that are used to keep data private in a blockchain can have the unintended consequence of slowing down the network. This is especially true if the network is being used to process a lot of small transactions.

The fourth challenge is regulation. This is a big issue, and a topic for another day.

The Bottom Line

There is no doubt in my mind that blockchain will have a major impact on medicine. Right now, it still has some challenges to overcome, but it's definitely something to keep a close eye on.

Blockchain Cloud Storage

Our lives for the past two decades have gradually become more and more digital. With this increasing reliance on data, there is an increasing reliance on places within which we can store that data. Providers of cloud data storage enable users to store their company’s data, their music and e-books, as well as data from their online scheduling tool and calendars. In this case, the users are able to synchronise their online calendars across their devices via a cloud storage platform. The platform can manage its users’ client bookings and customer timetable, and can even update it in real-time and synchronise those changes across all devices.

Although the embryonic beginnings of cloud storage can be traced back to the 1960s, cloud storage as we know it now is used in part as a substitute for our PC’s hard drive. What does this cloud form of storage bring in comparison to its cold storage counterpart? It allows users to utilise programs in order to synchronise their devices, share records, and more easily access the contents of their smartphones.

Although traditional cloud storage providers take precautions to ensure that their users’ data is protected and unavailable to view by other members of the cloud network, they still reserve the right to access your files: 

‘Like most major online services, Dropbox personnel will, on rare occasions, need to access users’ file content (1) when legally required to do so; (2) when necessary to ensure that our systems and features are working as designed (e.g., debugging performance issues, making sure that our search functionality is returning relevant results, developing image search functionality, refining content suggestions, etc.); or (3) to enforce our Terms of Service and Acceptable Use Policy. Access to users’ file content is limited to a small number of people. We have strict policy and technical access controls that prohibit access to file content except in these rare circumstances.’

The realm of blockchain technology promises to make changes within the cloud storage domain as well. New blockchain-based, decentralised cloud storage platforms aim to provide their users with fully decentralised cloud storage which is more affordable and more robust than their traditional cloud storage competition. For example, they encrypt and distribute their users’ files across a decentralised network, preventing access to those files by third parties. One new decentralised platform charges $1-2 per 1TB of storage, compared to a traditional provider which charges $23 for the same amount of data. 

Another player in the blockchain cloud storage game charges $4 per TB for their standard plan. Moreover, they offer a free plan which they aim at developers looking for storage for smaller projects. Their free plan allows a storage limit of 150GB per month for a maximum of 3 projects (50GB allowance for each project). Users’ files are encrypted and stored on geographically diverse nodes, making data breaches virtually impossible. From these nodes, each stored file is then split into 80 pieces. So, why split up the files? The company explains: ‘Splitting files yields unparalleled performance and durability. Our decentralized architecture offers improved out-of-the-box security and privacy for our customers and enables more reliable performance than traditional cloud storage providers.’

These file object pieces are then globally distributed across the thousands of nodes which operate alongside the blockchain. There are over ten thousand nodes across 84 countries worldwide. Furthermore, you only require 29 pieces of your 80 piece file in order to retrieve it. That means that if one of the nodes storing your file pieces goes offline for whatever reason, your data is still retrievable. The platform also boasts an ‘automatic repair process’ which is activated if too many pieces of your file are lost. And unlike traditional cloud storage, this platform has multi zone functionality built into its system, meaning that you won’t pay extra for increased availability. 

This means entirely tamperproof cloud storage for your files:

‘We like to think of it as a completely new standard for data security. You don’t have to trust us, that’s just how it works. It’s what we call trustless—we’ve taken trust out of the equation entirely. We couldn't read your data even if we wanted to. If someone else wants to access your data, they would need to first constitute your file from the network—already a tricky and complex task without strict authorization from our system—then they would need to break AES-256-GCM encryption, which protects the world’s most sensitive data and classified information. It’s not going to happen.’

AES-256-GCM looks terrifying to any lay reader. If we break it down briefly into simpler terms, we are better able to understand why we are told it is unbreakable by current computing power. The 256 in the code refers to its key length of 256 bits, which means it supports the largest bit size (256). If we operate with encryption of a key length of 1 bit, in contrast, there are 2 possible combinations with which to break the encryption. If the encryption is 2 bits, 4 combinations; 4 bits, 16 combinations. This exponentially increases with every key length until we reach 256 bits which corresponds to 1.1x10^77 possible combinations. 

So even with the most advanced current computing power available to us, the number of possible combinations required in order to access files stored on these encrypted cloud storage blockchains is unthinkable. Legacy storage companies are certainly facing competition from the new chains on the block. 

A Healthcare System Built on Blockchain Technology

Hospitals are places we rarely like finding ourselves inside of. From the overpowering stench of cleaning solutions and great deal of stress these places induce, most want to stay as far away as possible. But, the reality is that they are crucial to the health of a population, which makes it all the worse when considering their major shortcomings. 

In 2019, the industry was found to be worth $3.8 trillion or 17.7% of America’s gross domestic product and it's no wonder why. American healthcare is legendary for being grossly overpriced when compared to other developed nations. The system is outdated and in need of change. With hospital costs reaching all-time highs in the last decade and breaches of patient data security, what can be done? Enter: blockchain technology.

Blockchain technology is the foundation of many different digital assets like bitcoin and it may be the thing to take the healthcare industry to the next level. Here are some ways that blockchain technology could change modern healthcare as we know it.

The Blockchain, Explained

The field of blockchain technology is extremely technical and notoriously difficult for many to wrap their heads around. But, it can be understood most simply as a secure database of receipts.

Every time a transaction is made with blockchain technology, the “receipt” of that transaction is logged, confirmed on a block, and added to a chain of other blocks (which is why it’s called a blockchain). Thus, all transactions that have ever taken place on that specific blockchain are stored and confirmed for as long as transactions are occurring on it.

This receipt proves ownership of the digital asset (i.e. medical records and receipts) and lets the owner do what they please with it. The healthcare industry could adopt this mode of patient record confirmation and fundamentally change how the common person goes about accessing it.

Blockchain’s Benefits in Healthcare

Ultimately, this field could stand to benefit the patients not only financially, but personally as well with added control over security and access to medical records.

Firstly, the financial benefits of a blockchain system are numerous. For one, the mistakes that occur throughout the financial process of patient care could be cut down tremendously. With the existence of blockchain technology in this field, the staff could communicate and access things through one system. Gone would be the days of healthcare workers bouncing between multiple different programs trying to log patient expenses, record patient updates, and store data long term. With this, the likelihood of misdiagnosis due to poor communication could be slashed as well, saving the patient and hospital thousands in wasted capital. 

One of the biggest changes that could come about; however, would be specified in the area of patient records. To talk more specifically, the security of patient records has been in jeopardy for the last decade in America. The Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights predicted that around 176 million breaches of healthcare occurred from 2009 to 2017. Blockchain’s roots in cryptography are a strong reason why it is seen as such a capable tool for this issue.

This challenge could easily be solved with the adoption of blockchain technology as each person would hold a public and private key, just like in cryptocurrency. This would make large-scale hacks of hospital records not possible anymore as the individual accounts of patients would need to be hacked one at a time.  

Also, the ease of access to individual medical records would make life for the average citizen instantly better. Things like prescriptions would be contained in one system. So by having the tool that hosts that blockchain, like on your phone in the form of an app, would make buying needed products much easier and cheaper. You could also utilize such an app to find over-the-counter medication and products like CBD rich hemp oil for sale, which are becoming more popular around the United States due to their potential for medicinal and therapeutic use. On top of that, proof of vaccination could be contained on one easy-to-use app and make travel a common part of life again. 

Lastly, with the pandemic slowly fading in the background, it is important to recognize the power of gathered information when it comes to viral outbreaks. Information is crucial for scientists and health care workers to fight and defeat an outbreak. The ability to secure, easily access, and effortlessly log data in this scenario is priceless and has the potential to save a lot of lives. This could also be said with common medical research, which would also stand to benefit from this system.

Healthcare is an indispensable field for everyone and to see any change that creates an efficient, more secure outcome can make all the difference. This is why blockchain technology stands to turn the modern healthcare industry on its head and give more power to the individual when it comes to their health. Making these changes now could save not only time and money but more importantly the lives of many.


Blockchain Picks and Bitcoin Shovels

Everyone is aware of the mania surrounding teenage bitcoin millionaires. Many of the college students publishing on this blog are excited by the future. As a guest writer, I'm certainly a lot older and more experienced, which means I'm slightly skeptical of all this hyperactivity and mania. I certainly have seen things like this before. I thought I'd share some of my thoughts as an entrepreneur and seasoned investor. I've been through various hype cycles before. It is clear to me that while blockchain technology will be a multi-trillion dollar market, most of the money will be made by the companies and startups that are building real products and services on top of it, not by the direct application of the technology itself. It's bound to be commoditized by larger players who are already entrenched, such as large banks. So if money is to be made by the products and services, then the question becomes: Which ones?

We're in the first inning of the blockchain and bitcoin revolution. Currently, there are a lot of very smart people working on a lot of very interesting projects. I'm not claiming that I'm going to pick winners, but there are a couple of things that I believe are crucial to the success of blockchain companies.

1. First mover advantage

Some of the most successful companies in blockchain are the first movers. The "killer app" of DApps will be a huge breakthrough into mainstream consciousness. As a very clear and literal example, many people did not know about cryptocurrency, and many people even now, still don't. But a lot of people have heard of bitcoin, even people who have no idea what it is. Why is that? It's the first mover in the space. There are going to be new and exciting industries that are successful purely because they're the first one in the space.

2. Find a need in a new market

It is clear to me that blockchain technology will be used in a bunch of different ways in the future. One of the most interesting categories is those places where the current cost of transacting is too great. Like tipping someone, or donating a few coins to a homeless person or street performer. In recent years, coins have become less and less popular, and less valuable too, because people are just carrying around their phone, and using Apple Pay to pay for things in stores. In some countries, there are buskers and homeless people who accept card payment, because of this trend. There is a big cost in terms of transaction fee, for accepting card payment, and so lots of things (business activities, or content creation) that you might get paid 5c for (for example, viewing a website story online), are just not possible now, because the transaction fee for accepting 5 cents is more than 30 cents. It just doesn't make sense! So, with new blockchain technology emerging, that might enable such expensive transactions to become cheap and easy, there will be a number of new industries emerging. In my opinion, these industries will be big winners. There is a clear need, and an opportunity for a company to build a great company and a great business.But it's nearly impossible to predict what they will be, today.

3. Build a software company

This is very different from a company that uses blockchain directly, but this article is about profitable picks and shovels, so that is an example of that. As more and more of the world's infrastructure, contracts, deals, and processes move onto the blockchain there is going to be a greater and greater demand for great software to be built, to run it. Many riches will flow to the companies that can do the best mobile apps development, or the best enterprise back end software, because the leverage is so great when combined with blockchain. These are the companies that will be the biggest winners from the blockchain revolution.

It's not about the hype

Many of the most successful blockchain companies are not at all flashy. They're not trying to get attention, they're not trying to tell anyone about what they're doing. They're just building their product, helping the community, and making the best product they can. Without hype or fanfare, some of the most successful blockchain companies are not the first movers in the space, but they're the leaders. They're the ones helping the community, putting out the best product, and doing the most to help people in the industry.

One of the most successful companies in the blockchain industry today is Coinbase. Coinbase is a company that is providing a great service to the blockchain community. The company has raised millions of dollars, and has millions of users. Yet, their business model is a basic one: Allow users to buy and sell Bitcoin. Simple as that. This is clearly a company that is focused on the right things, and is building the right thing, and the right strategy.


Focus on creating value for customers, not on the hype or the technology. Picks and shovels are just as profitable as mining the gold itself, if not moreso.

Tokenizing Real Estate with Blockchain

Blockchain technologies seem to have a solution to most problems, even if the problem is that I need to sell my house fast. The merger between blockchain and real estate promises to simplify and cheapen the process of buying and selling property. This process traditionally involves a sleuth of entities who each take a cut from the deal made between the buyer and seller. The bank, broker, seller, buyer, and local government all are involved in this process, and currently any real estate transaction requires heaps of paperwork and hours of coordination between these entities and individuals.

A seller could, if unwilling to pay these fees, list their property for sale by owner (FSBO), but then she doesn’t have access to the MLS (multiple listing service) that real estate agents use to search for property when they have a new buyer. Notoriously, the MLS is fragmented, walled off, and complex, so navigating it as a seller is a daunting task. However, transferring these property listings to a blockchain would mean opening up access to all the available property for anyone to review. With each listing, the seller could advertise the price of their property as well as any terms and conditions which need to be met upon purchasing.

How is the property secured financially and contractually? Smart contracts. Smart contracts are becoming popular, but they are far from being the standard method of finalising contractual agreements. They are exactly the same as paper contracts, however they are digital. The difference is in how they are implemented and who is involved. Let’s take the platform Kickstarter as an example to demonstrate the difference between paper and smart contracts. Kickstarter is a platform through which product teams can request funding from supporters for their newly-developed products, or products in the making. The platform acts as an intermediary between these supporters and product teams, meaning that both sides have to trust Kickstarter to manage their money safely. If the product teams manage to have their projects successfully funded, they expect Kickstarter to give them their money; on the other hand, supporters want their money to go to the project when it is funded, or get a refund when it hasn’t reached its goals.

Essentially, both sides have to trust Kickstarter if they want to succeed. This opens up each of them to counterparty risk. Smart contracts provide a similar system to facilitate this exchange without the third-party risk. Returning to the real estate example above, if a seller wishes to advertise their property, we can programme a smart contract to facilitate the transaction online. The smart contract is programmed with the seller’s price and other criteria, and only upon the meeting of that criteria can their property be sold. So why should we trust a smart contract? Because smart contracts are located on a blockchain, they are immutable and distributed. Once a smart contract is created, it can never be changed again; and being distributed means that the output of your contract is validated by everyone on the network. If a bad actor decides to tamper with the contract, everyone else on the network is a witness and can invalidate them.

So, seeing as any real estate transaction requires so much paperwork in the form of deeds, contracts, tax records, and other documents required for making the sale, smart contracts could facilitate these transactions more securely and faster. Furthermore, smart contracts could take care of any ongoing real estate transactions such as rental agreements and home warranties, simplifying the process even more.

Another exciting idea within real estate smart contracts is the ability to fractionally own properties. As the owner of an apartment building, you can programme the smart contract which facilitated its sale to invite investors to purchase shares within the building. These new owners now own a share of the property which they can sell at any time, through the same smart contract.

Traditionally, real estate has been concerned with listings, in order to connect buyers and sellers together. However, blockchain and smart contracts are introducing new ways to purchase real estate: real estate can now be tokenized, allowing the sale of properties to be handled like a stock sale on an exchange. Real estate has long been thought of as highly illiquid due to the time it takes for sales to be finalised. However, tokenizing properties opens up the market to more liquidity: properties (or fractions of properties) in the form of tokens can be readily traded on exchanges for fiat, increasing their liquidity.

Buying and selling property is time consuming, risky, complex, and expensive. Solutions on blockchain will save time and money by releasing the resources currently used for registration and settlement. With blockchain and smart contracts, there is hope that these drawbacks are mitigated.

Transparency as a Driver of Value

Transparency is a buzzword often ascribed to blockchain, and for good reason. We know of blockchain’s potential benefits in delivering more transparency to supply chains so that consumers have a much fuller picture of the provenance of their meat and fish, t-shirts and clothing, and even their custom logo rug. In so doing, blockchain strengthens traceability, and reduces costs by enabling cross-border payments without the need of a third-party bank. This independence from third parties in terms of payments also naturally accelerates the supply chain process.

Transparency in payments; transparency in logistics; transparency in provenance and traceability. But with all this transparency, what of privacy? How can a technology be transparent if the users on the blockchain are pseudonymous, for example? The pseudonymity of its users enables blockchain to remain transparent as they are more open to interact with the technology when their actions can’t be traced back to an actual identity. This, of course, may pose somewhat obvious problems. That being said, all transactions on the blockchain are recorded on the network’s ledger, available to view by anyone on the chain, rendering any malicious action vulnerable to invalidation by its other users.

The distributed nature of a blockchain’s ledger therefore makes it fully auditable. If a bad actor were to change one block within the chain, all succeeding blocks would need to be changed as well: each block contains its own hash (which we can think of as the digital fingerprint of each block), and the hash of the preceding block. So by changing the hash of one block would mean having to change the hash of the block following in order for them to correspond. It would be virtually impossible for anyone to do so and not worth anyone’s financial investment either. As this one-way hashing is rooted within blockchain technology, and is therefore automatic, there is a vastly reduced requirement for routine checks and balances of the network as well.

Blockchain networks can also take the place of regulatory bodies such as the SEC by implementing more transparency in their place. For example, there is a massive regulatory burden for a company or organisation with going public at an IPO. Firstly, this new regulatory spending is expensive. Goldman Sachs even released a study suggesting that it would be more financially beneficial for companies to remain private. Secondly, once a company goes public, its financial information is available not only to a select few venture capitalists, but to everyone who wishes to take a look. This expanded viewership means greater potential for scrutiny into company records. Early venture investors might exaggerate a company’s valuation pre-IPO in order to improve their returns on paper. However, when the company’s records are available to view by everyone, including perhaps a few scrupulous analysts, they may, on account of those records, impugn those initial valuations, resulting in a loss of faith and confidence in the company.

What if the company’s financial transactions were transparent from the beginning? Blockchain can prevent these exaggerated valuations from ever being made, by ensuring that a company’s full financial record is transparent from the outset. Inflated valuations are less likely to be made by early investors if everyone is able to view the records. Blockchain in this sense can award the best behaviour on the part of the company, as companies would be assessed on their ability to sensibly manage their finances. In a blockchain world, companies would actually compete to be the most transparent, as transparency would end up driving their value.

From the business sector, to the online gaming industry: transparency through blockchain would facilitate the existence of provably fair games. While in any casino, the house always has the advantage, provably fair games allow the players to check the server seeds to verify the results of the game to see if they are genuine. This is a revolutionary aspect to online gaming and one which is already beginning to be employed by online casinos and gaming sites.

The transparency of blockchain networks is in part down to their leaderless existence. Blockchains, in the form of Proof of Stake or Proof of Work protocols, are inherently decentralised. Arguments have been made on both sides as to which is or will end up being the most decentralised protocol. However, the key takeaway here is that they are both decentralised protocols: they are peer to peer networks within which miners (in the case of Proof of Work like Bitcoin), or Validators (in the case of Proof of Stake systems), validate each transaction.

We are seeing the emergence of myriad blockchain networks which aim to make improvements in various sectors from healthcare, to advertising, to finance, and to real estate. Blockchain is here to stay, and it’s here to disrupt not just the financial market but any ecosystem which values value.

Not All Software Was Born Equal

The dominance of personal computing devices over today’s world is constantly on the rise. We use our phones to socialize, communicate, stay updated on news events, and much more. PCs and laptops are also being depended on now more than ever in light of the recent pandemic. Whether for employees who work from home or students who pursue their online education, personal devices and the internet have become an absolute necessity in every household.

Today, software engineering is one of the most sought-after skills not only by tech companies but also by other institutions unrelated to tech. This is due to them now requiring specialized applications to run their workflows as opposed to a decade ago where generic programs were enough. With the emergence of new technologies like machine learning and blockchain, software will only become more intricate going forward.

Software Varies with Purpose

Computer software is generally split into two main categories: System Software and Application Software. System Software is essential for the basic functioning of the computer while Application Software is mainly used by general individuals like you and me.

The main example of System Software is the operating system (OS) found at the heart of every computer. It contains the kernel which governs the entire system and acts as a conduit between software and the hardware it runs on. Without the OS, a computer would be completely unusable. Some of the most widely used operating systems are Windows, macOS, and Linux. To ensure wide support of peripheral devices like keyboards and USBs by different operating systems, device drivers are put into action. They are low-level pieces of code that allow smooth communication between the OS and plugged components.

Application software is the type of software we’re all familiar with. It is not related to the operation of the computer and is utilized by users for other purposes. Examples include web browsers, music players, games, and much more. Developers use IDEs to write code in programming languages and build these applications. Some developers can even choose to charge money for their products.

Software Licenses and Pricing

Some application creators make the source code of their software available for everyone. This is called open-source software, and in most cases anyone is allowed to view and edit their own copy of the source code without having to ask any permission. Most security-related software boasts being open-source to provide a sense of trust and transparency with users. This type of software is also generally of higher quality since anyone can make improvements to the source code.

Closed-source applications are those that don’t make their source code publicly visible and do not permit any modifications. It is categorized into three parts based on pricing: Freeware, Shareware, and Proprietary software. Freeware entails applications that are provided free of charge and can be downloaded by anyone on the internet. Shareware is similar to freeware, but users need to pay a fee to continue using it after a certain period of time. This acts as a free trial for them to try the software before having to spend money on it. Finally, proprietary software is software that cannot be obtained without payment, and the makers retain certain rights for its modification and sharing. Some examples of proprietary software are Microsoft Office and Adobe Photoshop.

The Evolution of Software

Software has come a long way since its debut back in 1948. Back then, it was written directly in binary code which the processor understands. Today, applications are written in high-level languages which are later translated to binary instructions by a compiler or interpreter, making the development of complex software possible.

An increasingly interesting phenomenon in the world of software is that of blockchains. Currently, blockchains are mostly being used to operate cryptocurrencies due to their public, secure, and decentralized nature. In fact, the technology used in blockchains is so secure that it is deemed virtually impossible to compromise. This is possible thanks to cryptography, particularly the SHA-256 algorithm used on the Bitcoin blockchain. It would take the fastest supercomputer exponentially more time than the current age of the universe to successfully crack SHA-256.

Going into the future, blockchains could be put into purposes besides cryptocurrency as more and more software engineers switch to blockchain development. The fact that they are tamper-resistant could entice governments into using blockchains to run elections or even keep track of sensitive information like criminal history and medical records. Blockchains could also pave the way for the distribution and management of open-source software.


The internet, computers, and software have become an integral part of the world today. Innovations like blockchain technology are showing promising potential and will continue to constantly evolve. Financial companies have already begun adopting blockchain technology and other businesses are expected to soon follow suit. It is only a matter of time until this technology shapes the main underlying infrastructure of the entire digital realm.

The Blockchain Revolution Facing Real Estate

Purchasing a home is a fundamental pillar of the American dream, but in the modern real estate market, it can prove to be a nightmare. Constant roadblocks, astronomically high fees, and massive amounts of upfront capital are all capable reasons to make any sane person shy away at the thought of buying a new home.

This doesn’t change the fact, however, that by 2025, Millennials are expected to form up to 20 million new households in the U.S. and a solution needs to be found fast. But one serious player that can challenge this reality is blockchain technology.

The same technology that makes the exchange of digital assets like cryptocurrencies possible could be applied to similarly change real estate as a whole. The adoption of blockchain technology would allow for properties and houses to be tokenized and traded like the common currency of bitcoin.

It’s hard to find a facet of life now that cryptocurrency doesn’t seem to have a posed solution for, but in the specificity of real estate its technology could revolutionize the industry. Here are some ways that the blockchain could forever change real estate as we know it:

The Blockchain, Explained

Now, the field of cryptocurrency is extremely technical, and can sometimes feel like you need a degree in computer science before wrapping your head around it. But, it can be understood simply as a secure database of receipts.

Every time a transaction is made with blockchain technology, the “receipt” of that transaction is logged, confirmed on a block, and added to a chain of other blocks (hence the name blockchain). With this, all transactions that have ever taken place on that blockchain are stored and confirmed for as long as transactions are occurring.

This receipt proves ownership of the digital asset and lets the owner do what they please with it. The real-estate industry could adopt this mode of purchase confirmation and fundamentally change how the common person trades property.

Benefits of Blockchain Technology Within Real Estate

Many issues face the average buyer in real estate. For one, the marketplace of real estate is very centralized. Using a real estate agent to sell or find a house is almost a necessity in the market and introduces many unnecessary intermediaries in the process. Most technology that is introduced for real estate is to pair those selling with those buying, but this can be taken even further with the ability to use marketplaces online to sell or buy a property through tokenized property assets.

Overall, the decentralization of property transactions would make all transactions transparent and easily accessed upon inspection of the blockchain. This is a welcome concept, as the last major market crash in 2008 shows us the effects of a lack of transparency in the housing industry.

Another common problem solved by the implementation of the blockchain is arguably one of the most important reasons. Cost. Massive amounts of fees and upfront capital go hand in hand with the purchase of property in America. By not only cutting out intermediaries like agents, lawyers, etc. the price of purchasing a home could drop drastically. This would also include inspection costs, taxes, and loan fees. Then, the focus of your capital could go towards something much more useful like paying for cross country moving services to quickly and reliably move your possessions.

Lastly, the ability for a homeowner to quickly sell their property would become a reality. Real estate is notorious for being extremely difficult to liquidate and it’s no wonder why. Many hoops need to be jumped through to sell a home and it can often take months to finalize. With the adoption of blockchain technology in the market, properties can quickly be tokenized and sold on a marketplace designed to pair buyers with sellers. This would expedite the process by a substantial amount.

Overall, there are a multitude of faults within the current real estate market structure. The adoption of blockchain and smart contract technology could greatly benefit the majority of people who need to buy or sell a property without a great deal of trouble. It would also allow for more people as a whole to get involved in the purchasing of real estate through multi-signature purchases of tokens. This means that you could own a fraction of a property without having to purchase the entire thing.

We have experienced many changes in the financial norms over the last five decades. From the adoption of credit cards to the common layman profiting from the stock market, the changes we see today will define the future ahead of us. It is estimated that around 46 million people, or 17% of adults in America, own some sort of cryptocurrency. Knowing this, the possibility of a revolution of blockchains within the real estate industry grows more realistic with every passing day and has the potential to change it for the better.

Unifying Online Security and Privacy

In our current tech-rich era, it seems like a new invention gets released every day. Our everyday life has become so dependent on the internet that we can’t function without it. Today, we use the internet for just about anything, but as we grow increasingly tethered to the online world, some dangers might arise. For instance, we might be forfeiting a little more of our privacy than we know. This is due to the very centralized nature of the internet where online corporations can collect tons of information about their users with ease. This information is then pinned to specific individuals and sold off to data brokers who are free to utilize it as they please.

In addition to that, the increasing prevalence of online payments and finance can impose some security risks like credit card fraud and data breaches. Fortunately, some innovations in online data management and security are showing promising potential. For example, the recent widespread implementation of blockchain technology is shedding light on the flaws of conventional online finance. Right now, blockchains are mostly being used in the realm of cryptocurrency – a form of digital currency that runs on the internet. Due to their superior security and anonymity, cryptocurrencies are proving themselves better than conventional money in many ways. Besides cryptocurrency, blockchains can also be put into a never-ending number of purposes.

Modern Privacy

Who doesn’t like scrolling through their favorite social media apps and double-tapping posts they like? Social media platforms have taken the world by storm and continue to grow more and more popular every day. While they do provide great opportunities to socialize, meet new people, and keep in touch with loved ones, they can also be a huge privacy risk.

By simply scrolling through your social media page, one can tell a lot about you. If you tag your location on posts, a potential stalker can easily find out where you were and what you were doing at a specific time. In certain cases, they might be able to analyze patterns in your activity and predict your next move. It is therefore unsurprising to see an increase in the number of reported cases of cyberstalking. To protect yourself, be more wary of who you allow onto your social pages and pay attention to how much sensitive information you’re exposing with every post.

Besides that, massive online companies are working non-stop to get as much data about you as they can. It has been recently shown that data is rapidly becoming one of the most valuable resources worldwide, and there is a good reason behind that. Nowadays, most websites and online services have embedded trackers and data collectors that read your browser cookies and track your activities across platforms. This data is then compiled and interpreted by advanced AI to infer your specific interests and target you with relevant ads. Geolocation may also be factored in to provide location-accurate ads like newly opened stores around the block or water restoration services near you. Generally, this is useful not only to advertisers but also to users who are delivered relevant offers and opportunities that they are interested in. User data may also help in research and content tailoring, especially by creators and service providers.

On the other hand, certain corporations collect this data for the sole purpose of selling it to data brokers and other entities. In most cases, these buyers’ intentions remain a mystery. To stay safe, use a VPN as often as possible and avoid sketchy websites altogether.

Blockchains: A Breakthrough Innovation in Security

Blockchains are an easy way to mitigate many of the newfound dangers in the online world. The technology employs intricate cryptography to achieve unbreakable security. Once data gets added to a blockchain, it is impossible to go back and change it, making them extremely resistant to counterfeiting and fraud.

In cryptocurrency, blockchains store and validate transactions between users. They run on global decentralized peer-to-peer networks, so they are not owned by a specific entity. This makes them more private when compared to the conventional centralized internet as there isn’t any corporation that governs its activity. They are also publicly accessible, so anyone can see the transaction history at any time. This eliminates confusion and reduces misunderstandings in payments. As a result, cryptocurrency is non-custodial and has almost no limitations on transactions. Most payment services owned by private financial companies are limited to certain countries and are under massive amounts of surveillance. This is not the case with crypto, however. Any person in the world is free to create a crypto wallet and receive as many payments as they want with no limitations and very low fees.


For the future, blockchains and cryptocurrencies are bound to take over most online operations and data management methods. It is only a matter of time until proper software is developed to leverage the true power of blockchains. Due to the massive advantages that crypto has over traditional money, we can see the future world ditching conventional payments in favor of the more secure and environmentally-friendly cryptocurrency. In fact, the entire crypto network uses only a fraction of energy compared to that of the current banking system, and could soon use even less with the new emerging power-efficient transaction validation methods.