“Open Ledger Project”: A Linux Style Blockchain?

As I have commented earlier, Wall Street is diving into blockchain technology, as evidence by filing US patents (Goldman, BoA), and various consortia (R3, DBS  and others). For the most part, these groups are designing systems to use blockchains, but not Bitcoin. This makes total sense to me: most of the advantages to finance accrue from the cryptography and the distributed ledger, not from the currency. (Wall Street actually understands how money works, so this seeming rejection of Bitcoin a virtual gold is rather telling.)

Along these lines, IBM is leading a move to set up something called the “Open Ledger Project”, to be managed by the Linux Foundation (!). At the moment, this is at the press release stage of technology—nothing can be known about the actual technology.

The basic idea is to “develop an enterprise grade, open source distributed ledger framework” and “a cross-industry open standard for distributed ledgers”, analogous to the linux operating system and the World Wide Web. The participants are a consortium of large businesses.

As far as we can tell, Bitcoin itself is not the standard they are thinking of: this project appears to contemplate many blockchains that need to interoperate with each other.

Such a vision makes sense to me. The World Wide Web works because it provides standardized interoperability for many different networks and databases. Why would blockchains be different?

Looking at the press release does not fill me with overwhelming confidence in this particular initiative, however.   Details are sparse except about the names of the players. There is no academic participation, not even MIT or Stanford. No evidence of any public sector interest. No real explanation of what kinds of technology and standards might be contemplated, or how they would be delivered. (White papers? Standards documents, a la W3C? Reference implementations, a la Linux?  Licensed products?)

And, of course, no participation by the Bitcoin Foundation. Wow!  They are working with the Linux Foundation instead of Bitcoin Foundation.

Will 2016 see the end of Bitcoin?


Cryptocurrency Thursday



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