What Blockchain Really Is

Blockchain is not a technology, it is a meme. The legend of a magical technology about to disrupt everything – e-very-thing! – emerged from an ecosystem of investment fraud, where it was originally used to sell worthless coins and tokens to the gullible. The blockchain legend did not have to make sense to fulfill this purpose, quite to the contrary.

Due to media fascination with the speculative bubble formed by Bitcoin and other crypto-“currencies”, the blockchain legend spilled over into the real business world. It had everything it needed to spread: great promises instilling fear of missing out, explanations one could replicate by memorizing rather than understanding, and holes in just the right places that everyone could fill with their personal visions.

Application proposals, unsurprisingly, revolved around what people experienced in their everyday lives, such as tracking bananas from the farm to the supermarket or making payments. The blockchain legend would have worked just as well with any other alleged use case, as it did not promise any specific advantages compared to actual technology.

As a meme, the blockchain legend can spread only among those who want to believe, or at least accept the proposition that blockchain were a technology. The moment one understands the true nature of blockchain as a redundantly-decentrally spread meme one stops spreading the meme.

Two years have passed since peak blockchain. Fewer and fewer people continue to propagate the meme. I can see the light at the end of the tunnel.