MIT Technology Review
Weekend Reads
The Basics of Blockchain

Good morning, Weekend Readers! This week, we're taking a look at blockchain.

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In 2008 a mysterious figure, the pseudonymous Satoshi Nakamoto, released a “new electronic cash system that’s fully peer-to-peer, with no trusted third party.” This currency, known as bitcoin, promised to revolutionize the way we think about money.

But it wasn’t long before people realized that while bitcoin itself was exciting—it was the underlying technology that had the potential to dramatically change many different aspects of our lives.

This was the blockchain, a radical new way of using peer-to-peer networks and computing power to effectively decentralize trust, no bureaucratic middlemen required.

More than ten years after it first emerged, let’s take a look back at the initial hype, the bitcoin bubble, and what the future of this still-emerging technology looks like now.

Breaking down blockchains

What is a blockchain?

Where it came from, what it does, and how it works.

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How secure is blockchain really?

The technology might be theoretically tamperproof—but there are always ways to cheat the system.

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What is an initial coin offering?

The ICO boom looks a lot like a bubble, but at its heart is a genuine innovation.

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A glossary of blockchain jargon

The terminology makes the technology seem either baffling or boring. Here’s a guide.

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What the hell is a blockchain phone, and do you need one?

The answer to that depends on how deep you are into crypto.

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Whats the hope?

Five industries that blockchains could—maybe—revolutionize

From energy to elections, these 5 areas could see significant changes. This story covers the potential changes and setbacks each industry could face.

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Inside the Jordan refugee camp that runs on blockchain

Syrian refugees could regain legal identities that were lost when they fled their homes.

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How blockchain could give us a smarter energy grid

Energy experts believe that the technology can solve a maze of red tape and data management problems.

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Hate lawyers? Can’t afford one? Blockchain smart contracts are here to help.

Mainstream online legal services are getting serious about using crypto to automate bits of what they do—and lower the bar to entry for us all.

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Ethereum thinks it can change the world—it’s running out of time to prove it

The blockchain system has daunting technical problems to fix. But first, its disciples need to figure out how to govern themselves.

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Venture capitalists are still bullish on blockchains

VCs are demonstrating their hope in blockchain’s longevity by continuing to invest hundreds of millions into the technology. 

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An uncertain future

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Once hailed as unhackable, blockchains are now getting hacked

More and more security holes are appearing in cryptocurrency and smart contract platforms, and some are fundamental to the way they were built.

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In 2019, blockchains will start to become boring

After the Great Crypto Bull Run of 2017 and the monumental crash of 2018, blockchain technology won’t make as much noise in 2019. But it will become more useful.

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Blockchain boosters warn that regulatory uncertainty is harming innovation

The pace of progress in the digital asset industry has officials struggling to keep up.

Read more.

We’ve been covering tech since 1899. If there’s something you’re interested in hearing more about, we’ve probably written about it. Let us know what you’d like to hear about next at

Until next week!

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