Database vs. Blockchain

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What is a database? And what additions does blockchain bring to the concept of a database? 

A Database Explained

In a database you store information such as the content of a page on your website. As a website owner, you can add new information and update those pages and posts. As a website visitor browsing through the website, you read the current state of the pages and posts from the database. 

Now, if the site owner updates a page and adds a post with a news article and the site visitor browses through the site again, the state of the database changed, hence they see the website with an updated page and a fresh new article. 

The benefit of working with a Content Management System is that you can easily publish and update content at all times. The downside is that this can be used against you as well. 

A Blockchain Explained

A blockchain is similar to a database. However, the special thing about blockchain is that it is secured with hashing. In a previous video, we learned how hashing works. Blockchains simply add hashing to a database. This brings an unprecedented layer of security and transparency to databases. 

If you would put all content of a site on a blockchain, this is what it would look like:

  • An update of a page is a blockchain transaction. 
  • Publishing a new page is a blockchain transaction. 
  • The state of the database (which can be read if a visitor visits your site) is a block. 
  • Thus, new transactions in a blockchain form a block. 
  • A transaction can be timestamping your hash, or in case of Bitcoin a transfer from person A to B -> new transactions form a block, and from blocks the state of the database can be read
  • Furthermore, Each block contains the hash of the previous block. This chains the blocks to each other, hence the name blockchain. This block, and the previous blocks, are not stored on one computer or server, but they’re stored across computers of many participants in the blockchain network. 
  • As you remember, if you only change one little detail in the input of a hashing function: the output changes completely. 
  • So, if anyone tries to temper with a transaction in an older block, the hash of that full block totally changes, making all the blocks in between invalid. It is absolutely impossible to change data in the past without everybody knowing it. 
  • Thus, with blockchain instead of a database, you have a fully transparent and secure way to store data in a permanent way! Cool huh?

Because of this, you can update a page, but you can’t modify the content without people knowing it. Do you see the difference? Timestamping with blockchain brings unprecedented integrity to content and commerce. 

And of course,you can still choose whether you want to show the previous revisions of the specific content or not. 

Timestamping with blockchain is super simple yet powerful: instead of a Bitcoin, we add the hash (thus “the fingerprint”) of the content to a blockchain transaction. You can now prove that specific content existed at the moment you timestamped the hash on the blockchain!