Adding Blockchain to my Membrane

I headed to New York City to immerse myself in the world of blockchain over a 3- day course. Throughout the experience I sat confused on exactly what blockchain was and quickly wanted to understand how this technology could be used in my world of media. Before we move into that, if you’re like me you may need a refresher or understanding of what blockchain is.

The Syracuse journalist working to learn about blockchain in NYC. Photo credit: Communications of Syracuse

Blockchain Definition

Blockchain is defined by Investopedia as ” a chain of blocks, but not in the traditional sense of those words. When we say the words “block” and “chain” in this context, we are actually talking about digital information (the “block”) stored in a public database (the “chain”).”

Blockchain History

Now, let’s be real, if you’re like me you are still sitting here confused. You’re probably thinking “Well what exactly does it do? What is it? Racquel what are you even talking about?” Simply put the easiest way to understand this technology is to associate it with the main thing it is known for which is Bitcoin. CNNMoney describes Bitcoin as a form of technology that made it’s debut in 2009. With bitcoin the biggest features are that you are able to make transactions eliminating the middle man and also by gaining funds through trading.

With my background it became very difficult to understand how this technology would be helfpul for me, honestly it still is. But that’s the beauty in Blockchain it’s allowing different fields to think outside our general boxes and find new, innovative ways to help our fields. During the immersion we found out that the government can use blockchain to help strengthen data sharing. For healthcare they can eliminate the use of faxing, mailing and calling in confidential information for patients. We even found that for drug dealers they are able to make transactions through bitcoin which uses the blockchain. Saying that the sky is the limit for blockchain is possibly an understatement. Universe, maybe?

Blockchain will inevitably eliminate the back and forth that we have grown accustomed to. It will also serve as an unchangeable record properly documenting information. This was the angle I found most helpful with decided how I could use it for my own professional use.

Blockchain Meets Racquel

With Blockchain the most effective avenue for me, would be the storing and blocking of research based information. Being able to have a place to efficiently hold my research would be helpful with data collecting. For example, during my time in undergrad I composed a 70 page document on innate vs. learned depression. With this semester long research I delved deep into scholarly journals, credible articles and conducted interviews with credible sources. Finally completing my assignment I emailed the PDF to myself, made two copies in a binder and never looked back. Now, learning more about how depression is sweeping the Black community this information would be vital for me writing articles, blogging or making videos. But, I have sense lost the binder with the copies and have not used the email address since 2014; and couldn’t begin to figure out what the password is, now in 2019.

With blockchain we as journalist could easily save important information without the use of “the cloud,” emails, and hardcopies. We could effectively find important information that we have stored over the years which, would compile our resources in an organized and chronological order. Our immersion speaker, and product strategist Sean O’Conner described this transaction and the building of databases as permanent and unchangeable.

This information would also not be public information, which would be important for me as I try to build credibility. Having a peer-to- peer government marketplace was discussed during the immersion as making content more credible, and confidential. Here’s how this could be used in journalism: With the use of “the cloud,” and Google Drive we are all one login away from someone garnishing our documentation and taking what they please. With blockchain, it would be used to securely keep our information and research confidential until we are ready to present our findings, it would allow us to share information in house, and document who the original source were. Again, credibility and originality is my focus when thinking about how blockchain could be used in journalism.

Also blockchain could become a source of income for those who are collecting research based information. For example, rather than running to Google for general and overused resources such as articles, interviews and resources… journalists could get paid for their exclusive content. Imagine a world where journalist and researchers could monetize on their findings, this not only improving their credibility but also putting coins in their pockets.

Is Blockchain Necessary?

I’m sure with more digging we will find that the option are limitless in multiple fields. But first, we’d all have to take a few more crash courses in exactly what blockchain is, I hope my blog post today helped begin the conversation for you and your colleagues. This conversation is inevitable if you are working to have your business flourish. Our immersion speaker Crystal Houston described those learning about blockchain are currently putting themselves ahead of the curve. Most recently, Facebook announced their involvement and fascination with blockchain and use of cryptocurrency in the near future. And we all know once Zuckerberg and his team begin taking on new technology others soon follow. Currently 3%-5% of companies have begun to research and implement blockchain in their company.

What are some ways that you think blockchain would be helpful in our life or career?

Sources:

Newhouse Summer 2019 NYC Immersion [Personal photograph taken in New York City]. (2019, July 25).

Fortney, L. (2019, June 25). Blockchain Explained. Retrieved June 25, 2019, from https://www.investopedia.com/terms/b/blockchain.asp

Houston, C. (2019, June 22). Communicators Guide to the Blockchain Galaxy. Lecture presented at Syracuse 2019 Immersion, New York City.

O’Connor, S. (2019, June 21). Introduction to Blockchain. Lecture presented at Syracuse 2019 Immersion, New York City.

The Ultimate Blockchain Technology Guide: A Revolution to Change the World. (2018, October 15). Retrieved June 30, 2019, from https://101blockchains.com/ultimate-blockchain-technology-guide/

What is bitcoin? (n.d.). Retrieved June 28, 2019, from https://money.cnn.com/infographic/technology/what-is-bitcoin/index.html

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