Keys and Consensus and Contracts, Oh My!
Hello blockchain gang! I know it might seem like I’ve been an a little MIA recently, but I swear I’ve been helping spread the blockchain word. I’ve started writing for distributed.com! For those who don’t know, distributed.com is part of BTC Inc media which is the world’s largest Bitcoin and blockchain media group. In my opinion, they’re like what Vogue is for fashion, but for blockchain!
Funny story -- one of BTC Inc’s other publications, yBitcoin magazine, was the first thing I ever read on blockchain. Almost 6 years ago! Now, I’m writing for distributed.com, which is a news website that explores business cases, education, technical concepts, and more. Sooooo, that being said, I’ve recently posted some content on there that is breaking down some hard hitting and pretty intense blockchain topics.
Here’s a crash course on each of the topics, but if you want all the hot deets you’re going to have to check out the articles!!
Digital keys are what allow cryptography to occur and cryptography is the process of turning ordinary plain text into unintelligible text -- aka using code so only people who should have access to something can read it.
When you turn that ordinary text into unintelligible text, you’re encrypting it. When you go backwards (unintelligible text back to ordinary text), you’re decrypting it. How do you go between the two? Using your keys!
Keys are really just big and long numbers with tons of digits. So, if a message is encrypted (locked) with a public key, it can only be decrypted (unlocked) with the matching private key. Think of it like an actual lock and key.
Not sure which key is which? Here ya go:
Public key: you hand out copies of the public key to pretty much whomever
Private key: you keep the private key to yourself -- do not share it!
Think you got it? Hate to break it to you, but you have faaaaaar more to go. Good thing I know a great place for you to figure it out ;) Read the full article on distributed.com -- “Public and Private Keys: Unlocking Your Full Blockchain Potential”
Blockchains work because of trust (or lack thereof), and that can occur because of consensus mechanisms. A consensus mechanism is a process used to agree on a block of transactions that should be added to the blockchain. Basically, consensus mechanisms make sure everyone uses the same blockchain. If they aren’t used properly, blockchains could be a major risk of being attacked or hacked.
While there are a few different types of consensus mechanisms, two of the most common are Proof of Work (PoW) and Proof of Stake (PoS). To go through the breakdown and learn why these consensus mechanisms are the backbones to blockchain networks, check out the full thing, Understanding Consensus Mechanisms, the Backbones to Blockchain Networks.
Ahh, smart contracts. The “best part of blockchain”, so they say. But what makes these contracts so smart? Is this for lawyers? Rule breakers? Technology enthusiasts? Are you feeling confused!
Never fear! The smart contracts break down is here!!!!!!
Essentially, smart contracts are self-executing contracts. It’s pretty much a computer protocol where the terms of the agreement between two parties are written into lines of code. That code runs automatically without anyone having to do anything to actually make it happen. Some say it is magic.
Why are they useful, what do they give you, are they getting rid of the lawyers?! SO MANY QUESTIONS! Good news for you -- I’ve answered them all.
What are you waiting for? See what Elle Woods would do!
P.S. Did you get the title?? Lions and Tigers and Bears, Oh My! —> Keys and Consensus and Contracts, Oh My! Okay a stretch, WHATEVER how cute is this picture of my mom and me. I was soooooo obsessed (still obsessed) with the Wizard of Oz