With an MA Computer Science and Management Studies from Cambridge University, another in MA in Philosophy at King’s College London, topped with a PhD in Computer Science at Technion in Israel, Gideon Greenspan has no shortage of academic cred’ and his multiple online ventures since 2003 range from Copyscape, a search engine for textual plagiarism, used by millions worldwide to Web Sudoku the web’s most popular sudoku site, with 200,000+ daily visitors. From Question2Answer, an open source platform for Q&A, running on over 15,000 sites… to Family Echo an online family tree tool with over 30 million profiles stored.
His latest venture is running Coin Sciences Ltd., a company developing a suite of technologies and services for public and private blockchains which includes MultiChain, an off-the-shelf platform for creating private multicurrency blockchains, CoinSpark, an integrated solution for asset transfer and notarized messaging over bitcoin and Coin Secrets, which displays metadata recently embedded in the bitcoin blockchain.
His latest post at Multichain, Avoiding the pointless blockchain project, How to determine if you’ve found a real blockchain use case, starts with a ringer…
Blockchains are overhyped. There, I said it.
What is refreshingly clear about the blog post is his brutal honesty – which is needed in the current hype surrounding Blockchain, and anyone thinking of a startup in the Blockchain space NEEDS to read this… because the industry is still in it’s infancy. Everyone is grasping for a buzzword that might, actually, be well-sorted with a relational database and it could be there is no need for a Blockchain anywhere near the concept. All of us in the industry are all waiting waiting to gain a clearer understanding of where blockchains genuinely add value in enterprise IT – as it’s not really all that clear yet.
Here’s how it plays out. Big company hears that blockchains are the next big thing. Big company finds some people internally who are interested in the subject. Big company gives them a budget and tells them to go do something blockchainy. Soon enough they come knocking on our door, waving dollar bills, asking us to help them think up a use case. Say what now?
As for those who do have a project in mind, what’s the problem? In many cases, the project can be implemented perfectly well using a regular relational database. You know, big iron behemoths like Oracle and SQL Server, or for the more open-minded, MySQL and Postgres. So let me start by setting things straight:
If your requirements are fulfilled by today’s relational databases, you’d be insane to use a blockchain.
Why? Because products like Oracle and MySQL have decades of development behind them. They’ve been deployed on millions of servers running trillions of queries. They contain some of the most thoroughly tested, debugged and optimized code on the planet, processing thousands of transactions per second without breaking a sweat.
And what about blockchains? Well, our product was one of the first to market, and has been available for exactly 5 months, with a few thousand downloads. Actually it’s extremely stable, because we built it off Bitcoin Core, the software which powers bitcoin. But even so, this entire product category is still in its diapers.
So am I saying that blockchains are useless? Absolutely not. But before you embark on that shiny blockchain project, you need to have a very clear idea of why you are using a blockchain. There are a bunch of conditions that need to be fulfilled. And if they’re not, you should go back to the drawing board. Maybe you can define the project better. Or maybe you can save everyone a load of time and money, because you don’t need a blockchain at all.
The blog post goes on to brilliantly outline the conditions to determine if one really needs Blockchain technology to fulfill their project. There are eight topics and he elucidates on each one thoroughly.
- The database
- Multiple writers
- Absence of trust
- Transaction interaction
- Set the rules
- Pick your validators
- Back your assets
if your project does not fulfill every single one of these conditions, you should not be using a blockchain. In the absence of any of the first five, you should consider one of: (a) regular file storage, (b) a centralized database, (c) master–slave database replication, or (d) multiple databases to which users can subscribe.
And if you do fulfill the first five, there’s still work to do. You need to be able to express the rules of your application in terms of the transactions which a database allows. You need to be confident about who you can trust as validators and how you’ll define distributed consensus. And finally, if you’re looking at creating a shared ledger, you need to know who will be backing the assets which that ledger represents.
Got all the answers? Congratulations, you have a real blockchain use case. And we’d love to hear from you.
Here’s a recent interview with Greenspan called Gideon Greenspan: The Blockchain Is A New Database Paradigm from the podcast team at Epicenter Bitcoin, hosted by Brian Fabian Crain and Sébastien Couture, two Bitcoin enthusiasts located in Berlin, Germany and Lille, France.
Topics covered included:
- How Gideon got involved in the blockchain space
- Their colored coins implementation MultiSpark and why it failed to get traction
- Why he saw a market for an open-source private blockchain platform and started MultiChain
- What mining diversity is and how it is used for consensus in MultiChain
- How permissions work in MultiChain
- The issues of privacy in blockchains and why you can’t have auditability and privacy
- How private blockchains differ from regular distributed databases
- The five criteria to decide if a project needs a blockchain
- The problem he sees with smart contract blockchains
- Dash Unveils Evolution Roadmap and Three-Year Plan - June 27, 2017
- Seven Major European Banks Select IBM to Bring Blockchain-Based Trade Finance to Small and Medium Enterprises - June 27, 2017
- EOS Blockchain Operating System Unveils Year-Long Token Distribution - June 27, 2017
- Blockchain Application Platform Lisk Announces First Major Release, Lisk Nano 1.0 - June 27, 2017
- Blockchain Startup AdEx, a Decentralized Ad Platform Developer to Launch a Token Sale - June 27, 2017
- First Ever Real Estate Project on Blockchain Launches in Amsterdam – ICO Today - June 26, 2017
- World’s first decentralized speech recognition platform plan to raising up to $3M on ICO - June 26, 2017
- A2B Direct to Launch a Blockchain Platform and Hold an ICO - June 24, 2017
- The ‘under the radar’ ICO, Populous. A platform tackling the Multi-Trillion Dollar international billings industry. - June 23, 2017
- Blockchain Startup TrueFlip Reinvents Business with 600 Year Long History of Fails - June 23, 2017
- EXMO exchange lists WAVES Blockchain Project - June 23, 2017
- Blockchain Startup DECENT Launch Date Announced - June 23, 2017
- Adex, A Decentralized Ad Network, Taps WINGS Platform For Community Engagement, Token Sale Value Discovery And Social Promotion - June 23, 2017
- Comcast’s Advanced Advertising Group And Participants Announce Blockchain-based Technology Platform - June 22, 2017
- Online Platform for Gamers to Release a Cryptocurrency for In-game Skins Trading; Launches an ICO - June 22, 2017
- Colu Launches Digital “Local Pound, East London” Currency to Empower Local Economies - June 21, 2017
- bitJob.io is Building a Student Employment Program on the Ethereum Blockchain – Launching ICO - June 21, 2017
- Blockchain Project Waves launches landmark USD gateway - June 21, 2017
- Status.im Raises $270m in Three Hours – Shattering Token Raise Record - June 21, 2017
- World’s First Mobile Data Exchange DENT Seeks to Disrupt Telco Market with Blockchain - June 20, 2017
- Financial Inclusion Company Everex Takes Home RemTECH Award For Ethereum Apps - June 18, 2017
- SONM Raises $42 Million in Token Raise - June 18, 2017
- WISeKey partners with the Blockchain Interface company RIDDLE&CODE to develop innovative solutions for securing IoT via Blockchain technology and crypto-hardware - June 17, 2017
- Bancor Announces $153 Million Raise, Largest Token Generation Event in History - June 17, 2017
- CORION Announces Final Coin Sale Details to Build its Revolutionary Platform & Stable-Rate Currency - June 17, 2017
- Enhancing the value of history with ZenDao – ICO announcement - June 16, 2017
- FunFair Announces Token Creation Event on June 22 for World’s Fastest Blockchain Casino Platform - June 15, 2017
- Blockchain Technology Venture Nimiq Announces Token Sale - June 14, 2017
- Outlier Ventures Makes Multi-Million Dollar Investment in Distributed IoT Marketplace ‘IOTA’ Through Major Token Purchase - June 14, 2017
- Bancor Token Allocation Event Smashes Record – Raises over $150 Million - June 13, 2017
- Consensys Introduces Omega One - June 12, 2017
- MetaX and DMA Join Forces to Launch adChain: a Blockchain Solution to Digital Advertising Fraud - June 12, 2017
- Aeternity Raises $24 million Over Phase Two of Token Sale - June 12, 2017
- HyperChain Capital announces Collaboration and Investment in CoinDash - June 12, 2017
- Community-Driven Cryptocurrency Credits Announces First Public Release - June 12, 2017
- Bancor Protocol Foundation Announces New Partners Before Upcoming Token Allocation Event - June 12, 2017
- Investors from Russia are launching a venture fund formed on blockchain - June 12, 2017
- Bancor Adds Heavyweight Advisory Team to their Foundation – Token Allocation Event Kicks off Today - June 12, 2017
- Bancor Protocol Foundation Adds Author and Euro Designer Bernard Lietaer as Chief Monetary Architect - June 10, 2017
- Russian Billionaire Announces Business Incubator on Waves Platform - June 9, 2017
- Bancor Launches Crowdfunding Valuation And Promotion Via Wings Dao On Ethereum - June 9, 2017
- Coinsilium invests in Indorse.io Decentralised Professional Network - June 8, 2017
- Cofound.it Breaks Pre-Sale Record, Selling Out With Priority Pass Before Public Token Sale - June 7, 2017
- Cofound.it Token Pre-Sale Reaches $5 Million Threshold Within Three Hours, Announces First Three Projects - June 5, 2017
- Blockchain Startup DECENT Testnet #2 Launched! - June 4, 2017
- Blockchain Challenge Dubai Announces Winners- Awarded $45,000 - June 4, 2017
- Waves Ceo Sasha Ivanov: Blockchain Will Lead To Rapid Progress Not Only In State Administration, But Also In Business - June 4, 2017
- Exscudo ICO Successfully Concluded – $5M Dollars Raised - June 1, 2017
- Aventus launches Ethereum-based Event Ticketing Solution - June 1, 2017
- Brave Token Sale Blasts Records With $35 Million in 30 Seconds - June 1, 2017