Blockchain for the Non Geek #KMWorld

I’m attending the new BlockChain in Government conference that is running alongside the KMWorld Conference. Euan Semple is chairing these sessions.

Session Title and Description:

Speaker: Euan Semple, Director, Conference Chair, & Author, Euan Semple Ltd

[These are my notes from the new Blockchain in Government conference, which is part of the KMWorld 2018 Conference. I’m publishing them as soon as possible after the end of a session, so they may contain the occasional typographical or grammatical error. Please excuse those. To the extent I’ve made any editorial comments, I’ve shown those in brackets.]


  • The Hype Cycle.  We are in the hype cycle of blockchain and there is so much noise about it — especially with respect to cryptocurencies. More quietly, organizations are working on smart contracts and other ways of using blockchain technology to find solutions to persistent problems.
  • It isn’t just another slow database. It’s a ledger.
    • It is a permanent record of transactions identified by and aggregated by a specific hash. Each new transaction is assigned a hash and added to the blockchain bearing that hash. The detail and data relating to each transaction are held outside the ledger.
    • The ledger is held in identical form in multiple places. Therefore, each change to the blockchain is replicated in multiple places and cannot be changed (or corrupted) in one place without raising an alert in the other places.
    • This transparency and constancy helps engender trust. This displaces institutions and professionals who previsously were trusted to authenticate and keep transactional records.
  • The ideology of algorithms. We are allowing a group of geeks to shape society through the algorithms they write without society’s oversight or input. This means they can embed in their code their biases and blindspots. If the rest of society treats the output of these algorithms as value-neutral or omniscient, then society blindly acquieses to this new shape of society.
  • Immutability. One of the pillars of trust is immutability. However, as some parts of society are beginning to assert “the right to be forgotten,” how does that square with a permanent, immutable record?