A demystification of blockchain and cryptocurrency coupled with a wide-ranging assessment of its transformative potential.
Depending upon whom you ask, blockchain is either a promising technology, the foundation of an emergent sociopolitical revolution, or a flash in the pan. Debut author and consultant Radocchia not only meticulously clarifies blockchain as a technological innovation, but also sheds light on where it came from and asserts that it will result in seismic changes in commerce and other fields. First, she straightforwardly defines blockchain as an “accounting tool”—a “distributed ledger” that facilitates peer-to-peer transactions, independent of any governing middleman. Because this ledger records each transaction and can’t be revised or erased, the need for such policing authority is eliminated, she says—and by extension, the need to trust such an authority. In fact, Radocchia contends, blockchain is a “trustless” system in which verification is no longer supplied by “centralized clearinghouses.” If blockchain is the “operating system of the future,” she asserts, it can also become the “means of facilitating decentralized trust on a global scale”—an agent of change for both traditional and emerging industries. The author goes on to discuss the technology’s many possible applications, and she furnishes a particularly compelling look at the ways in which it might solve problems in the pharmaceutical industry. The best part of this impressively lucid and provocative study, however, is its appraisal of the technology as a response to the dislocations of globalization and the ensuing, pervasive suspicion of governing bodies. The author has graduate school experience in anthropology and technology, and her eclectic knowledge shines through in her thoughtfully cogent analysis of blockchain’s geopolitical promise. However, her effort does suffer from repetition—she never tires of explaining the concept of decentralization, for instance—and as a consequence, it’s considerably longer than it needs to be. An accessible primer for beginners and an astute treatment of blockchain’s future promise for others.