Blockchain technology is a digital form of structuring data that enables the sharing of a digital ledger across computer networks without the need for a central authority, such as a central bank in the banking industry. Blockchain is the underlying technological foundation of alternative digital currencies such as Bitcoin, and dozens of leading financial firms, including The Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (NYSE: GS) and JPMorgan Chase & Co. (NYSE: JPM), are investing heavily in developing the technology. For people who want to learn more about blockchain technology and its applications, here are three of the best books on the subject.
Blockchain Revolution by Don and Alex Tapscott
The father and son team of Don and Alex Tapscott have written "Blockchain Revolution" to explain how the fully open, global platform of blockchain technology will expand and transform what we can do online, the way we do it, and who can participate. According to the Tapscotts, blockchain technology will immensely improve the delivery of expanding financial services, the safeguarding of personal identity information, business and personal contracts, and the overall expansion and development of the Internet of Things (IoT), a network of devices that can gather and share information.
The book also discusses the various ways that blockchain technology is changing the future of money, transactions, and business. Don Tapscott, also the author of "Wikinomics," and his son, Alex, an expert on the blockchain, carefully explain the technology as a simple but transformative protocol that enables financial transactions to be both anonymous and secure through the decentralized ledger, a public, tamper-proof "cloud" ledger of value. It is blockchain technology and the decentralized ledger that make possible the reliable use of cryptocurrencies. Recognizing that blockchain technology is still in its infancy, the authors do a good job of separating what the technology can actually deliver now, and its vast array of possibilities.
Blockchain by Melanie Swan
This book by Melanie Swan, founder of the Institute for Blockchain Studies, which focuses on identifying and examining the practical implications of decentralized ledger technology, is recommended reading for people who want to know how blockchain works, and its many potential applications. Swan notes that the impetus for the book was the realization that the application of blockchain technology extends well beyond digital currencies such as Bitcoin, smart contracts and decentralized autonomous organizations; DAOs are organizations operated by rules-based computer programs known as "smart contracts."
Swan relates her vision of a completely new kind of internet facilitation of decentralized value transfers that substantially increase economic efficiency in all types of transactions, automates many more actions and processes and makes them easily traceable, and also facilitates global projects on a heretofore unseen scale. Swan does a better job than most of providing straightforward explanations about the technology that the average person can follow. The book also contains an in-depth examination of cryptocurrency.
The Book of Satoshi by Phil Champagne
Blockchain technology and Bitcoin are inextricably linked, as blockchain made cryptocurrency a viable possibility. For a more entertaining, less scholarly read about blockchain and Bitcoin, this book offers the writings of the mysterious creator of Bitcoin, known as Satoshi Nakamoto. Almost nobody seems to know if the name is real or a pseudonym and whether it belongs to an individual or a corporation.
The Nakamoto persona has only a virtual existence, much like its cryptocurrency creation, present only through the online publications Nakamoto offered in order to explain Bitcoin during the earliest days of its introduction. The Book of Satoshi is a definitive collection of Nakamoto's essential writings, including the original paper detailing the idea of Bitcoin, Nakamoto's own explanation of how Bitcoin works, and a chronologically organized collection of emails and online forum posts by Nakamoto.