Blockchain Pixie Dust

...being a place I have put a few discussions, and/or links to interesting articles and resources, about blockchains and what they might or might not be good for. [I'm Jonathan Poritz; if you care, there is a whole lot more information about me on my home page.]

First of all, I should say that while I am quite critical of many proposed blockchain applications, I very much like the technology. I've done research in related areas of computer science. I've taught about blockchains from both a theoretical perspective on cryptography and from a practical perspective as an intricate and fun programming task. I would like nothing more than to teach about blockchains again — and I heartily encourage computer science students to take the class: it is full of useful and intricate ideas and practicalities related to cryptogrphy, PKI, hash functions, networking, data structures, distributed computation, consensus protocols, threat models, ... the goodies go on and on.

Unfortunately, I just don't see how this marvelous piece of computer science is at all the appropriate choice in most of the situations in which it is offered as a transformational new technology.

But I am trying to have an open mind! Please, explain to me where I'm wrong in my critique! Invite me to debate the topic! I promise I will be respectful and consider your answers carefully and without preconceptions (other than those coming from understanding the technicalities rather well).

In the meantime, here are a few things which I think have something important to teach us about blockchain applications:

NOTE: The favicon for this website is a cropped version of a [public domain] image of a beautiful flower by the Dutch painter Pieter van Kouwenhoorn (1599-1654), found at Wikimedia Commons.