Beyond the shouting match: what is a blockchain, really?

A blogpost I've promised for a while. It's long, but I hope it brings some clarity.


After writing this piece, my friend Kate Sills provided two valuable sources of feedback:
- A better definition of "smart contracts"
- An additional criteria for blockchains in terms of "incentive alignment"

I incorporated both:

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@cwebber thought that comes to mind while reading: Bitcoin gives global double-spending protection, but actually we only need double-spending protection between the participants, so it synchronizes far too much — which makes it much slower than it would have to be to solve the problem.

The amount of synchronization in Bitcoin (global truth of wallet) is only necessary if you want to be able to wave your wallet around for all to see without additional cost.

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