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Blockchain Revolution: How the Technology Behind Bitcoin Is Changing Money, Business, and the World

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The definitive book on how the technology behind bitcoin and cryptocurrency is changing the world.

Blockchain is the ingeniously simple technology that powers Bitcoin. But it is much more than that, too. It is a public ledger to which everyone has access, but which no single person controls. It allows for companies and individuals to collaborate with an unprecedented degree of trust and transparency. It is cryptographically secure, but fundamentally open. And soon it will be everywhere.

In Blockchain Revolution, Don and Alex Tapscott reveal how this game-changing technology will shape the future of the world economy, dramatically improving everything from healthcare records to online voting, and from insurance claims to artist royalty payments. Brilliantly researched and highly accessible, this is the essential text on the next major paradigm shift. Read it, or be left behind.

368 pages, Hardcover

First published January 1, 2016

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About the author

Don Tapscott

77 books180 followers
Don is one of the world’s leading authorities on innovation, media, and the economic and social impact of technology and advises business and government leaders around the world.

In 2011 Don was named one of the world's most influential management thinkers by Thinkers50. He has authored or co-authored 14 widely read books including the 1992 best seller Paradigm Shift. His 1995 hit Digital Economychanged thinking around the world about the transformational nature of the Internet and two years later he defined the Net Generation and the “digital divide” in Growing Up Digital.

His 2000 work, Digital Capital, introduced seminal ideas like “the business web” and was described by BusinessWeek as “pure enlightenment." Wikinomics: How Mass Collaboration Changes Everything was the best selling management book in 2007 and translated into over 25 languages.

The Economist called his newest work Macrowikinomics: New Solutions for a Connected Planet a “Schumpeter-ian story of creative destruction” and the Huffington Post said the book is “nothing less than a game plan to fix a broken world.”

Over 30 years he has introduced many ground-breaking concepts that are part of contemporary understanding. His work continues as a the Chairman of Moxie Insight, a member of World Economic Forum, Adjunct Professor of Management for the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto and Martin Prosperity Institute Fellow.

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5 stars
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242 (5%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 515 reviews
41 reviews30 followers
May 27, 2016
I should have known what I was getting myself into, having made an attempt to read Wikinomics by the same author before, and equally not being able to finish it: Blockchain Revolution is a wordy, inflated, largely uncritical praise of blockchain technology and how it's here to solve mankind's problems. The irritating thing is: despite it being so adamant about the superiority of the blockchain, I found the book to be unconvincing, full of hollow, superficial arguments and a good portion of wishful thinking. As an engineer, I'm excited about the prospects of blockchain technology myself, but I expected a critical analysis, and not 350 pages of fluff, with the same information regurgitated over and over again.

For an example of the "depth" of this book, consider this piece of insight from the authors:

"Our view is that the starting point for corporate boundary decisions is to understand your industry, competitors, and opportunities for profitable growth— and use this knowledge as the basis for developing a business strategy."

Who would have thought! Platitudes like this are abound in this book.

More serious problems can be found in their reasoning about the properties of blockchain applications. For instance, they argue that building applications and services on the blockchain will essentially remove the problem of service interruption and downtime, due to the inherent distribution and replication of the blockchain. This is a misleading argument to make, since it really only applies to the underlying storage and protocols, but not the bits people use to interface with it.
Just like end users don't directly interface with a database or TCP/IP, they don't directly interface with the blockchain. If for instance a service for digital asset attribution (say, photographies) allows you to "watermark" a picture as being yours on the blockchain, then there needs to be a means of uploading that picture first, e.g. through a web form, before anything is encoded on the blockchain. The upload itself would likely happen through a web frontend, which itself can *of course* experience down time, rendering the service useless regardless of its underlying blockchain technology.

I also found many examples of blockchain applications unconvincing. For instance, the example of bAirBnb, a hypothetical DApp version of AirBnb implemented on a public blockchain is given, which is "shown" to operate more cost efficient, thus removing the necessity for the 15% or so surcharge claimed by AirBnb. The authors conclude that this makes it a superior business, because it benefits the customer. The gaping hole in their argument is: where is the incentive now for the business to be established in the first place, if the only source of incoming is being removed? That question, among many others, remains unanswered.

On a positive note, I did find a few bits and pieces of information useful, such as references to existing services that operate on the blockchain. Overall, however, I would not recommend this book.
Profile Image for Al Sevcik.
143 reviews7 followers
May 15, 2016
I did not finish this book. What I read, and what I saw by skimming through the book, is an enthusiastic promotion of the IDEA of blockchains. The book lacked specific information as to exactly how blockchains are constructed and how they facilitate Bitcoin transactions. Maybe I missed something, but I was disappointed and give it one star.
Profile Image for Blair.
315 reviews18 followers
June 21, 2016
There are very few books that I start and don't finish and this is one of them.

My problem with the book is that I don't think the authors understand the subject - Blockchain. They talk in analogies and don't actually tell you what Blockchain is - apart from it being the technology behind Bitcoin and how it has the potential to change the world.

I think the book is about a case of writing about the subject first and not best.

Avoid it.
Profile Image for Trevor Bramble.
47 reviews5 followers
August 2, 2016
I skipped large chunks of this book because there's only so much breathless, exuberant techno-utopianism that one can stomach. What I hoped to read was a, perhaps somewhat enthusiastic description of what blockchains are, what experimentation has already happened, and what's currently being tried. This wasn't that book.
Profile Image for Peter Aronson.
361 reviews11 followers
June 25, 2016
Reading this book reminded me a lot of a famous cartoon by Sidney Harris that was originally run in the American Scientist: two men are looking at a blackboard with complex equations in the upper-left and lower-right corners, and one of the men is pointing in the middle where it says THEN A MIRACLE OCCURS; the text below is "I think you should be more explicit here in step two". This book is full of wonderful things that the blockchain will bring us, but it doesn't explain how any of them will actually work. Worse, a lot of the things referenced in the book are from interviews and emails, which is understandable with such a new field, but makes it nearly impossible to check the authors' work. And the few times that they do try to explain technical matters, it doesn't go well.

This book looks at blockchain technology through definitely rose-colored glasses, although it avoids being as overheated as Blockchain: Blueprint for a New Economy by Melanie Swan (although in all fairness, I do believe Swan does a better job of pointing out the risks and weaknesses of the technology, even if she seems strangely unworried about them). You could easily get the impression that the blockchain is some sort of magical fairy dust that you sprinkle on anything to make it better. (Not to mention there's no real discussion of the fact that there are multiple types of blockchain; this book lumps together, say the bitcoin blockchain and the KSI hash calendar as if they were the same thing.)

This book seems to lack an appreciation for just how messy the real world that this software needs to interact with actually is. Programmers, economists and (apparently) business book authors often seem to spend so much time dealing with simplified representations of reality that they begin to think the world is as simple as their models, leading to a sort of techno-utopianism were every problem has a simple, technical fix, and the law of unintended consequences never comes to visit. This book even recommends against trying to solve social problems with technical solutions, then spends the majority of the book explaining how to use the blockchain to do exactly that.

However, despite its flaws, this book references so many interesting ideas and projects that I found it worth the read. If you follow up on the notes that are not interviews or emails, you will find a lot of fascinating things. Just don't think you can read only this and actually understand what's going on with the blockchain in any but the most shallow sense.
Profile Image for Dhruv Bhandula.
66 reviews34 followers
July 22, 2016
This book promised a lot, but eventually delivered very less. I bought the book to get a hang of this new and exciting technology and how it can revolutionize the business world, but this books leaves a lot to be desired. There are hardly any discussions about how the technology is going to work in the real physical world. Everything in this book is like sandcastles in the air, a beautiful image in mind but nothing in concrete to be made use of. This book did a good job giving an overview of the technology, but nothing more. Sometimes I wonder whether even the authors know what they are talking about or not. Definitely not worth the amount of time and money I spent on it. My advice for the people who want to learn more about this technology will be stay away from this book and focus your efforts elsewhere by reading on the internet.
Profile Image for Peter.
Author 4 books13 followers
May 19, 2016
A prime example of muddy reasoning by analogy.
Profile Image for Anton.
270 reviews85 followers
January 16, 2018
I am really surprised with all the bad reviews this book attracts on Goodreads... I liked it.

Please bear in mind that this book is targeted at someone who is very new to blockchain and provides a high-level primer overview of whats what. It also does an awesome job of giving a glimpse of what blockchain can offer beyond bitcoin and other cryptocurrency use-cases.

If you already know enough about blockchain or you expect a deep-dive analysis of the technology behind it - you need to look for an alternative source... But if you are relatively fresh to the whole idea - it is a great place to start.

If anyone has alternative books to recommend - I would be very grateful (it does not appear to be much around)

PS: There is a TED talk by the author that gives a good flavour of the themes he covers in the book:
Profile Image for Jose Papo.
260 reviews133 followers
May 29, 2016
This book is a must read to understand and have ideas on all the promises of the Blockchain Technology and what is already being done today with it. Part 1 focus on explaining the tech behind BlockChain and its design principles, specially related to the new Dapps(Decentralized applications). Part 2 is focused on core industries and ares where the blockchain will create disruptions. I liked a lot chapter 5 on new business models and chapter 6 on the synergies of Blockchain and the Internet of Things. Overall, if blockchain is successful it will change many institutions and industries we take as granted today. read it if you want to understand and be part of this disruption.
Profile Image for Mehrsa.
2,234 reviews3,657 followers
December 15, 2017
I think the promises of blockchain and the hype surrounding it way outpaces the technology. I think the book is interesting in laying out what could happen, but it's a bit overly simplistic--too much cheerleading and not enough critical analysis. There are better books out there about blockchain and better books about the transformational possibilities of technology. Blockchain is probably the future, but you can easily grasp that from a TED talk instead of reading this long book about every possible potential iteration.
Profile Image for Thomas Preusser.
Author 6 books12 followers
November 19, 2018
I actually read the updated edition of this book. The author, Don Tapscott, had written some 9 books prior to this one spanning more than 20 years from the onset of the Internet to today's onset of "blockchain technology". This latest book comes from a "paradigm shift" perspective, that being that blockchain will be as big a deal as the Internet. My main mindset in reading this book then, was to find out why this is so.

This 316 page plus 30 pages of notes small print no picture book is well researched and encyclopedic, with plenty of expert observational narrative explaining the who's why's and what's of blockchain. It took me about 2 months to read and digest, which is a surprise because the book does not weigh the reader down with arcane technical detail of how blockchain works. Suffice to say that blockchain technology represents a network of independent entities following a mutually agreed upon set of rules to build collective judgement on the validity/truthfulness of recordable information which is subsequently recorded by all, for all, for all hackproof time. It should not be a big surprise that the origins of blockchain are in digital money (bitcoin), which is based on trust.

What makes blockchain revolutionary is the fact the recordable information becomes part of the environment we live in, much like the air we breath - i.e. no one has proprietary control over that "fixed in concrete chain of information blocks" recordable information. This creates an obsolescence of the need for intermediaries such as banks which are there to a large degree to imbue trust. This also imbues transparency that makes power less closed door and elitist. The main fear with blockchain is that entrenched power elites will do anything they can to stifle it.

That being said, there are many powers behind promoting blockchain including major corporations and universities. Blockchain is exploding out of its digital money origins to such diverse areas as food safety and health information. The future trajectory of blockchain will be somewhat like the trajectory of the internet with many surprise successes as well as failures (who remembers dial-up America Online).

My particular area of interest is using blockchain to reform democracy, which is currently rooted in systems of representative democracy (i.e. intermediary) well suited for more than 200 years ago, but unable to work for other than money'd power elites in today's world. Blockchain provides an opportunity to, at least initially, augment representative democracy with more citizen involved direct democracy. There are numerous startups developing and promoting tools to get us there. There are also some big ideas out there that take us well beyond a transition to a utopian world, a world that is difficult to comprehend this early in what represents a major paradigm shift - blockchain.
Profile Image for Atila Iamarino.
411 reviews4,361 followers
September 2, 2017
Um livro legal sobre como funciona a blockchain e suas possíveis aplicações. Começa com a explicação mais clara do que é minerar que já li e segue dando uma perspectiva legal de futuros usos da blockchain e criptomoedas que exploram novas possibilidades.

A parte chata é que os autores realmente beberam o Kool-aid da blockchain e não se cansam de falar de como essa tecnologia vai mudar o mundo. Por um tempo é legal, mas acaba ficando cansativo quando começam a se repetir e alongar demais a explicação para fazer o livro render. Além de apresentarem a blockchain como solução para uma série de problemas que na verdade só precisam ser digitais e bem geridos, no sentido de que mais uma tecnologia em si aplicada a isso não acrescenta tanto.

Dos que li, ainda ficaria mais com o The Age of Cryptocurrency: How Bitcoin and Digital Money Are Challenging the Global Economic Order pelas explicações e por uma noção de como começaram as startups dessa área.
Profile Image for Elena.
130 reviews40 followers
October 17, 2017
Purchased this book on Audible.ca because local library did not have anything in audio format on blockchain topic which I am curious about. Listened also recently to a podcast with former Estonian president and ended up being hooked. Maybe some of the discussions are indeed close to wishful thinking (as one of the GR reviewers put it) but i really enjoy "imagine that..." type of material nonetheless. Even if only for the sake of imagining. I also like to read about routines, processes, organization, automation, and algorithms. So i liked the book, 3.7 stars.

Memorabilia. Lightbulb can be trusted if its history is verifiable with blockchain. Earning income from utilizing roof-top weather node or renting out unused space on your computer. Tracing quality of the piece of meat you just bought to the beginning of its production cycle (history of given to the animal food, antibiotics, etc.) and maybe even to its DNA. Enabling email inboxes to charge spammers for each email received and garbage cans to talk to garbage trucks.

Profile Image for George.
60 reviews43 followers
October 1, 2017
"Blockchain Revolution" by Don Tapscott and Alex Tapscott is basically a 14-hour PowerPoint presentation on Blockchain technology. It was difficult to get through. Essentially, it is a long series of slides with bullet points.

A better introduction, I believe, would be to read any/all of the following three books:

The Internet of Money by Andreas M. Antonopoulos.

Digital Gold: Bitcoin and the Inside Story of the Misfits and Millionaires Trying to Reinvent Money by Nathaniel Popper.

The Age of Cryptocurrency: How Bitcoin and Digital Money Are Challenging the Global Economic Order by Paul Vigna.

I recommend this book only to people who desire a 14-hour Powerpoint presentation on Blockchain technology.

Rating: 2 out of 5 stars


Narrated by: Jeff Cummings
Length: 14 hours and 4 minutes 
Unabridged Audiobook
Release Date: 2016-05-10
Publisher: Brilliance Audio
Profile Image for Paul Dunphy.
39 reviews3 followers
December 3, 2016
I should have known what to expect with this book and I'm angry at myself for buying it (although, I feel some small satisfaction that I did get the cheaper kindle version). But it wasn't supposed to end like this, blockchain is an interesting tech and Tapscott is considered to be an interesting speaker on this topic.

At around 60% of the way through the book I began skipping a page now and then, then a few pages now and then, in order to hurry to the end. I have to confess, I quit reading the book at about 75% completion. And I can't remember the last time I quit reading a book.

I'm a tech researcher and found this to be an uncritical read that borders on fantasy for a technology that is actually rather simple. In its defence, if you are a consultant in the city of London and need some hot air to blow up the bums of potential clients you might actually like this....

Profile Image for Helen.
288 reviews24 followers
February 19, 2017
Hard slog but overall a great place to start if you want a high level, at times, idealistic view of the future. As I was reading, i couldn't help but feel the author was espousing all the positive, utopian aspects of Blockchain and the cynic in me was thinking "yes, but...."

If you're wanting a book that delves into detail of how the Block Chain works, this isn't it. However, there's lots of references and company names and startups who are in this space. Just bear in mind that there's constant change. Even the authors said in the last chapter to keep an open mind because it's unlikely these startups would be around anyway in the near future. Things are moving THAT quick.
Profile Image for Kent Winward.
1,679 reviews46 followers
July 8, 2018
A small quibble, but Blockchain isn't so much a technology, but an intriguing configuration of what an old timer would call software development to create a secure, distributed public ledger. But any type of development that can add to privacy, create an ecosystem where micro-payments could topple advertising revenue, and bring personal responsibility and accountability into the digital realm, is something that is worth learning about.
Profile Image for Ilie Dobrin.
48 reviews30 followers
July 6, 2022
Scenarii și supoziții lipsite de suportul unei argumentații coerente. Nu am putut să merg mai departe de pagina 50. E doar maculatură.
Profile Image for Daniel Olshansky.
83 reviews7 followers
December 4, 2016
I've been following Fred Wilson's newsletter for a little while now and have had a growing interest in blockchain technology. I was really excited about this book to learn about all its intricacies and applications, but was sorely disappointed. There are very few books I don't finish, and this is one of them...

The writing is wordy, superfluous, and draws analogies from a lot of different historical characters and events for no apparent reason. Sometimes I feel like the author did so just to showcase the breadth of his knowledge. It was extremely repetitive, and could easily be shortened by at least half.

There is very little discussion on how the blockchain actually works. The book simply idealizes a future world with blockchain at the heart of everything. Rather than evaluating the pros and cons of taking this approach, it feels like the book is just spreading propaganda. However, it is probably my fault for picking up a book that has "Revolution" in the title.

I would recommend to avoid this book. If you're really determined thought, picking it up and reading any one random chapter would more than suffice to get a feel for the overall idea.
Profile Image for Matthew Geleta.
40 reviews2 followers
January 31, 2018
Blockchain Revolution is a such a strange juxtaposition of novel insight and academic laziness... It's definitely a worthwhile read as an introduction to the business and social implications of blockchain technology, but it is fairly introductory and extremely one-sided.

Strengths: It's well written (expertly written) and easy to follow; it's full of new and exciting ideas; it's timely; it collects a vast number of quotations from current blockchain proponents and developers; it proposes some clear and actionable prescriptions for adopters of blockchain technology; it requires little technical knowledge to understand.

Weaknesses: It often reads like an advertisement for the blockchain companies it references; it's enormously one-sided, giving little weight to possible counterarguments; some of the proposed "novel" applications of blockchain technology are not actually novel, and don't actually depend on the blockchain; there is no technical description of the blockchain and its variants.
Profile Image for Jeanne Boyarsky.
Author 30 books67 followers
July 2, 2016
This book is titled “Blockchain revolution – how the technology behind bitcoin is changing money, business and the world.” It should have been called “how the technology behind bitcoin COULD BE....”

This book has a lot of future looking statements. It is a good description of the potential of blockchain. A lot of scenarios involve describing how something is a problem now and how it could be better. It could. But I was expecting more present day in the book. I did like the descriptions of stakeholders and potential problems.

The problem I had with the book is that it read more like science fiction and less like a business book.
Profile Image for Ian Carswell.
27 reviews6 followers
August 2, 2017
Catastrophically bad.

Tons of rah rah and bad jokes combined with myriad random lists, incessant quoting, and hypothetical scenarios that don't even all clearly relate to blockchain.

Reading it is like listening to Dilbert's boss talk for hours about a new technology he's excited about and doesn't really understand.
Profile Image for Sharon Orlopp.
Author 1 book365 followers
July 13, 2018
Interesting and inspiring primer about blockchain technology. It has the potential to significantly disrupt the way money is transferred between individuals and organizations. It also provides the mechanism for entrepreneurs to sell their products and services around the globe.

Some of the other potential impact items such as redistributing wealth, transparency to company financial records, etc. may seem a little far fetched.....however, early pioneers of the Internet faced ridicule as well.

Definitely worthwhile to continue learning about blockchain technology and the implications for the future.
Profile Image for Marsha Altman.
Author 16 books127 followers
January 20, 2018
The author is a True Believer, but he's also a financial analyst who has previously written bestsellers. Oh, and he owns a blockchain software company, so he might have some skin in the game. This book isn't about talking up Bitcoin, actually. It's about all of the fundamental shifts in economics that could occur if the blockchain technology is adapted appropriately. I couldn't follow it because I'm not strong on economics, but that's not his fault.
75 reviews6 followers
September 13, 2021
Let's write a book because this thing called Blockchain sounds so cool without giving readers even a single chapter on the technical aspects behind it because who cares anyway. Let's not give people even a back of the envelope calculation of the energy consumption to support the platform instead just keep quoting people just because they are famous and if they are hyped about it who cares about the physics behind it (or math?). Blockchain will solve anything and everything that you can think of and if you can conjure up an application you get a free Bitcoin!
Profile Image for Todd Allen.
55 reviews12 followers
August 10, 2016
What is the blockchain? Unlike the Internet, where information is stored on the servers of Google, Amazon, Microsoft and the like, the information that is the foundation of the blockchain phenomena exists within a distributed network. Rather than being siloed, and ultimately the property of the makers of the web pages and server farms we all use, a blockchain consists of multiple nodes around the world that are exact copies of each other. Whereas there is basically one world wide web, there are any number of blockchains. Every transaction that occurs on a blockchain must be recorded and validated by the same protocols each node adheres to before it becomes a part of a permanent, immutable record. It is the permanent record that makes the blockchain unique. Every transaction is timestamped and becomes a part of an unalterable history that is available for all to see, where each node in the network is an exact duplicate of the other nodes making up the blockchain. The kicker is that it is totally anonymous for those taking part. Each person who involves him/ herself holds an anonymous electronic key available only to him/ her. Although transactions are linked to the key, there is no database linking keys to users.

Most people have heard of Bitcoin. Simply, it is a cryptocurrency created using blockchain technology. The author of the protocol that brought this new form of currency into existence has the moniker Satoshi Nakamoto. No one knows who Satoshi Nakamoto is, whether he or she is a person, group of people, or alien from another dimension. It doesn’t matter. What does matter is that by collaborating through an open-source team, the ideas first made public in November 2008 by Satoshi Nakamoto became the foundation of the bitcoin protocol, and more importantly, the blockchain technology that is its underpinning.

How will the blockchain transform the world as we know it? The authors of The Blockchain Revolution explain how blockchain technology will level the playing field and unlock incalculable value for billions of people, many of whom are systemically excluded, through no fault of their own, from the opportunities we in the west take for granted. Disintermediation (getting rid of the middle man) is one of the key attributes of blockchain technology.

Those of us who have used the likes of Uber and Airbnb and have marvelled at the value these services unlock would be hard put to offer a better way. But why couldn’t we eliminate the middlemen (Uber, Airbnb, others) and go directly peer to peer? Blockchain makes that possible in the same way that buyers and sellers using the world wide web build their reputations by infusing their transactions with honesty, integrity, and reputable service. Blockchain technology eliminates the middlemen and allows the value extracted by them to be kept by buyers in the form of reduced prices, and sellers in the form of fatter profit margins. But this is just the tip of the iceberg according to the authors. Like the unimaginable vistas of wealth hitherto opaque until the advent of the Internet, the authors believe that the rising tide that will be triggered by the the global embrace of blockchain will be an order of magnitude greater than that brought by the world wide web.

Presently there are hundreds of companies from around the world using blockchain technology to manifest its possibilities in various forms. Steemit, for example, is a social media platform where people who join get paid for creating and curating content. The electronic currency used to reward contributors can be converted to dollars or Euros, and therefore to any other currency. Some have made enough money to pay for their vacation simply by posting highlights from their vacation. The Abra blockchain focuses on making cross border remittances---transfers of money---less inexpensive, less fraught with uncertainty, and much less time consuming than is currently the case. Look out Western Union! Seriously.

The authors make the case for implementation of the blockchain technology in multiple avenues, from governmental oversight to the Internet of Things, and everything in between that can be digitized. Along the way they describe current blockchains already in existence from around the world and the ways in which they are transforming the landscape. Governmental entities and top name companies---Nasdaq, Microsoft, Goldman Sachs, just to name a few---are investigating (and in some cases embracing) this technology to see what it can do for their bottom line. Some companies are scared, as they should be, given that the peer-to-peer nature of blockchain eliminates the need for the middleman-type-services they provide. What is the need for today’s banks when you have new currencies available and investors from around the world willing to loan money?

Although fascinating, there are sections of the book that seem to go on forever without much being added. Regardless, I applaud the authors for their effort in making the potential tsunami that is blockchain technology somewhat available to the layperson.
Profile Image for Michael Harden.
15 reviews1 follower
June 25, 2018
The idea of cutting out the middleman has always been an attractive concept because doing so promises to lower costs and produce potential benefits for both sides of a commercial transaction. However, the role of intermediaries in the economy has persisted in a number of areas for very good reasons. The most obvious example of an intermediary involves financial institutions. The role of a bank, in very simplified form, has always been to attract deposits from those with excess capital and to lend out that capital to borrowers in need of funds. The reward for acting as an intermediary is the bank’s net interest margin – the difference between the interest charged to borrowers and the interest paid to depositors.

The world is full of other intermediaries that facilitate transactions between producers and consumers. For example, Uber and Airbnb are both essentially middlemen that take a cut of all transactions in exchange for providing a platform. Platforms allow providers of a service to be visible to a large number of potential consumers. In addition, a platform is supposed to provide a safe and secure means of transacting and also disseminates information on reputation. The retail world is full of intermediaries. For example, a car dealership theoretically exists in order to connect drivers with manufacturers and provide additional value-added services.

Anyone who follows developments in financial markets is familiar with bitcoin, the cyptocurrency conceived by a pseudonymous person or group known as “Satoshi Nakamoto” in 2008. Bitcoin has been shrouded in mystery and intrigue ever since it was created. The value of bitcoin has fluctuated widely, ranging from under a dollar when it was created to nearly $6,200 today, and the currency has not been free of scandal and controversy. What gives this currency any intrinsic value? Is it real or a ponzi scheme? As interesting as these questions are, the real story has been largely missed in the media. The technology that makes bitcoin possible, called blockchain, is arguably far more important that bitcoin itself. This is the topic of Blockchain Revolution by Don and Alex Tapscott, a father and son team that set out to interview dozens of important players immersed in this emerging technology and to make sense of the implications for the economy in general.

Blockchains represent encrypted digital distributed ledgers that do not rely on any form of centralized storage or control. Blockchains are public and transactions are verified by multiple nodes on the network. Each set of transactions in a blockchain is stored in a unit called a “block” which is linked to the preceding block. This creates an immutable chain of transactions that is permanently time stamped. It is impossible to alter the contents of any transaction without somehow taking control of a majority of nodes in the network and rewriting the history of all subsequent transactions in the chain. In the case of bitcoin, significant computing power is required to process transactions and those who provide such resources are known as “miners”. In exchange for proof of work solving a non-trivial problem, miners are awarded with bitcoin for facilitating and verifying transaction activity. No central authorities are necessary or required with all transactions in a bitcoin block being verified every ten minutes, on average.

The book provides a general overview of how blockchain works but those who desire a more technical description will be disappointed. The Tapscotts appear to have targeted their book toward the “business reader” – in other words, individuals who are in a position to utilize the technology rather than those who would implement it. The problem is that without a technical appendix, the more technical reader may lack confidence in the claims that the authors make regarding the safety and efficacy of the distributed network.

Perhaps the most exciting aspect of blockchain is the potential within the field of financial services. The authors present an important case study regarding the difficulties facing migrants who routinely send funds to relatives in their home countries. The costs imposed by intermediaries such as Western Union can be extremely high relative to the modest sums that are sent. The concept of using blockchain to facilitate these transactions promises to eliminate the middleman and dramatically lower, if not eliminate, costs. With the widespread adoption of mobile phone technology in the developing world, there is no theoretical reason why migrants in rich countries cannot utilize blockchain to send funds directly to relatives in their home countries. The need for the 500,000 Western Union locations throughout the world would disappear with widespread adoption of the technology.

The authors believe the blockchain has the potential to facilitate direct contracts between consumers and service providers, effectively cutting middlemen like Uber and Airbnb out of the equation. Blockchain has the ability to handle very complex contracts and transactions and can also disseminate trust information through the chain. For example, it would be possible for an American to directly seek out homeowners in Paris who might have an extra room available, to read reviews from others who have used the room, and to establish contractual payment terms that set out the details of when funds should be released. The blockchain could even handle the transmission of a smart code to unlock the home once payment has been verified, eliminating the annoying need to personally receive a key. The need for Airbnb would be eliminated along with its cut of the transaction.

While the concept of blockchain holds a great deal of appeal, the book begins to get repetitive in later chapters and the authors perhaps reach too far when it comes to the promise of blockchain to “rebuild government and democracy”. The conceptual idea of using blockchain to improve voting practices and solve related problems might be attractive but it will take a very long period of time before such technologies are accepted and well understood, if such a time ever comes. People understand and generally have confidence in low technology solutions like paper ballots that can be recounted. Will such confidence exist with the blockchain proposals the authors make to improve the democratic process?

Returning to the question of bitcoin, one must closely examine the incentives government has when it comes to cryptocurrencies that have no central banking authority and leaves government with no control over monetary policy. The U.S. government has insisted on treating bitcoin as an asset, meaning that every single transaction involving the currency will involve a capital gain or loss for the user. This is a non-starter in terms of allowing bitcoin to operate as a medium of exchange. It is likely that those who are transacting in bitcoin today are doing so in order to profit from changes in the price of the currency rather than to utilize it as a medium of exchange. Governments are not going to readily accept the lack of control over monetary policy or the anonymity possible through the blockchain.

Blockchain Revolution presents an interesting concept and attempts to simplify the details to the point where the general business reader will understand the potential of blockchain. It could be an interesting read for those who wish to approach the subject with these limitations. However, many readers will seek a deeper understanding of blockchain. In addition, those who just want a surface level overview could accomplish that objective by reading a number of free resources on the internet. One cannot help but get the feeling that this book could have been condensed into a much shorter format or, alternatively, supplemented with a much more technical appendix. The end result is that it is not entirely satisfying for either the business or technical reader.
Profile Image for Yvo Hunink.
60 reviews
March 25, 2017
De world is entering a new era and the Tapscotts have just shown us the map. A very comprehensive study of the world of blockchain which has increased my knowledge, my enthousiasm and my realism on it.

People who give bad ratings, predominantly do it because of the opportunism, lack of critic and the lack of a real understanding of the technology. Firstly the opportunism struck me as well, however in the last chapters of the book, they get more critical and realistic towards the implications. A number of critics get the word and are mentioned with name and occupation. I agree it could have been more, but I think many of the limitations still need to be found! Furthermore, whenever someone says that they still don't understand the technology, they have not understood the purpose of the book. It is not their objective to give you a technical explanation, but one that looks at the effects on the world's processes. The technological explanations in the beginning were enough to be able to grasp that, therefore making the book more approachable for non-technology people (often government, which we all should agree on that they have to know about this)

For me personally the book has set me into action. I will be looking to incorporate blockchain in to our energy markets. Anyone interested in this, please contact me!
Profile Image for Ahmad hosseini.
271 reviews65 followers
April 7, 2020
بلاکچین یکی از روندهای تاثیرگذار فناوری است که در سالهای گذشته تغییراتی را در دنیای کسب و کارها ایجاد کرده است. به نظر می رسد هنوز پتانسیل های این فناوری به صورت کامل ظهور و بروز نیافته است و احتمالا در سال های آتی و با بلوغ بیشتر این فناوری شاهد ابعاد بیشتری از آن باشیم. رمزارزها و به خصوص ��یت کوین یکی از مواردی است که بر مبنای بلاکچین به وجود آمده اند.
کتاب درباره ساختار و نحوه عملکرد بلاکچین توضیحی ارائه نمی دهد و تنها درباره ابزارها، خدمات و کسب و کارهایی صحبت می کند که می توانند به واسطه بلاکچین به وجود آیند و مورد استفاده قرار گیرند. بسیاری از کسب و کارهای فعال در زمینه بلاکچین نیز معرفی شده اند و مورد بررسی قرار گرفته اند. کتاب همچنین به مزایا و معایب بلاکچین نیز می پردازد و تلاش ها و راهکارهایی را که برای از بین بردن معایب و ضعف های بلاکچین صورت گرفته است را نیز تشریح می کند. .
در ابتدای کتاب ضعف هایی در ترجمه وجود دارد و در برخی موارد ترجمه تحت الفظی است اما هر چقدر به انتهای کتاب نزدیک می شویم ترجمه بهتر و روان تر می شود.
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