While the crypto boom of this past year brought a significant amount of attention to blockchain, there is much more to the technology than hype and hysteria. In the simplest terms, a blockchain consists of a decentralized ledger that stores information in units called blocks. Transactions on these blocks are facilitated by smart contracts, which digitally verify and enforce the terms of the agreement. Together, these two elements work to create a system of transparent information transfer that is intended to be faster and more secure than any other current storage solution.
As a result, blockchain technology has possible applications across a wide variety of sectors, as it can streamline nearly any transfer of value. IBM and Walmart have already partnered to apply the technology to their supply-chain management, while Wall Street giants like JP Morgan and American Express have invested heavily in the technology in order to speed up bank transfers.
While blockchain solutions to everyday problems may not be here as soon as tomorrow, they will be here soon, making knowledge of the systems increasingly important.
Here are 5 ways that anyone can begin to understand blockchain technology and its possibilities.
1. Get them a wallet.
In the very same way that starting off with a small portfolio of stocks can teach valuable lessons about the financial market, starting off with a small wallet of tokens can teach both children and adults how the blockchain space operates. Cryptocurrency wallets are software programs that store keys, allowing users to interact with blockchain networks to send and receive digital assets.
Setting up a wallet allows for easy access to all sorts of crypto markets, giving users experience with altcoins at a relatively low cost to entry. Wallets give users firsthand experience with smart contracts and decentralized ledger systems, making them a great introduction to the power and value of blockchain technology.
2. Learn through programming.
Resources for coders are now widely available, making programming your own blockchain network an achievable project for those interested in the technology. With a basic knowledge of Python, amateur computer scientists are able to build their own ledger and contract system to store information.
By approaching the subject matter from a code level, programmers are able to gain a much more thorough understanding of how the technology works. With the demand for blockchain engineers far outweighing their supply, learning the technology through programming is an especially attractive method for those with computer science experience.
3. Teach intelligent investing.
As blockchain technology has evolved and startups have begun to develop new solutions with the tech, a new market of investment possibilities has arisen. Many of these startups have utilized proprietary tokens to fundraise, allowing users to create a portfolio of coins that represent companies they believe will be successful.
Crypto enthusiasts can make intelligent investments in the industry by following developments within each company and the space, learning about the practical use cases of the technology in the process. Smart token holdings in blockchain startups provide a method for more business-focused minds to familiarize themselves with the industry.
One of the best ways for young people interested in blockchain to gain experience is to intern with a startup employing the technology. New companies in the blockchain space are in need of help with tasks that range from programming to press, giving nearly everyone the opportunity to work firsthand with the networks.
5. Attend conferences.
Conferences have long been a great way for enthusiasts interested in an industry to learn more, and one in particular -- Block2TheFuture -- has become a must-attend event for kids and adults looking to get started and gain insights to current trends in the industry. The 3-day event features over 65 speakers representing nearly every corner of the space, addressing relevant industry topics such as enterprise blockchain, ICOs, protocols, investment analysis, case studies, smart contracts, atomic-swaps and tokenization of world.
It is the only conference in the world to have a mini Crypto/STEM session for kids (5-15 years) helping connect our future generation with the future of technology. They learn about wallets, security, programming tips and free fractional Bitcoin. The session ends with building a model rocket with a booster engine and igniter switch.
Among the key speakers are Keith Rabois, Anthony Pompliano, Steve Jurvetson, Liz Steininger, Kavita Gupta, Jason Calacanis, Brock Pierce and Michael Terpin. Founders, startup teams and developers can apply for a free pass here. The conference is held on a warship and aircraft carrier, the USS Hornet.
As the industry continues to grow, it is crucial to learn about the technology and understand how it works. While blockchain solutions for the average consumer might not be here just yet, the widespread possibilities of its use cases means blockchain should be sticking around for a while.