Welcome to Blockchain Journal
Welcome to Blockchain Journal, launched in January 2023. As a leader of many technology editorial brands over more than 30 years, I've taken a lot of risks in my career as a journalist. But none of them involved the launch of a brand-new media property targeting enterprises, businesses, and startups with advice about a technology with as many daggers in its back as blockchain now has.
In fact, when I was first approached about the idea in early 2022, the market capitalization of cryptocurrency ($3 trillion at its height) had lost nearly 50% of its value in less than three months. Not only was it the apparent season for a catastrophic industry freefall, the mainstream media was filled with headlines of people getting scammed, hacked, and bilked for hundreds of millions of dollars. The industry was on everyone's radar, from governments to grandmothers … and some of the most cataclysmic, contagious, and unthinkable events – the implosion of TerraUSD and the collapse of FTX – were yet to come.
So, you can imagine how incredulous my friends, family members, and contemporaries became as I took the opportunity to found Blockchain Journal more seriously while at the same time, the industry plunged deeper into an already ravenous abyss.
But the more research I did, the more I became certain of three things.
First, beneath the calamitous surface where cryptocurrency investors are drowning in extremely turbulent and shark-infested waters, there is a foundational element – Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT) – whose unique value proposition to businesses is completely separate from all the retail investment activity. It's a world unto itself where, for those businesses that discover its potential (something you'll be reading a lot about here on the pages of BlockchainJournal.com), DLT can become one of an organization's key automation platforms for digital transformation, business innovation, and industry disruption.
Second, throughout the world's business organizations, there are few if any people who are truly aware of the transformative potential of DLT relative to other technologies. In fact, given today's headlines portraying the blockchain industry as being about nothing more than the risks of cryptocurrency investment, it's literally impossible for a technology or business professional to do anything but "judge this book by the thin veneer of its cover."
And third, from the perspective of this media professional, who has been serving enterprise technology audiences for over 30 years, even if a few blockchain-curious personnel exist inside today's businesses, they are woefully underserved in terms of their information needs by the astonishingly large number of website, blogs, Twitter feeds, and Discord channels dedicated to the blockchain space. Go to just about any one of the so-called crypto sites – big or small – and you'd be hard-pressed to find a steady drumbeat of deeply prescriptive content when it comes to the idea of blockchain as an application platform for business reinvention. It's as if one of the most well-known facts in the media industry has escaped all of them; when it comes to almost any technology category (new or old), enterprises and businesses typically drive more value than any other segment.
There is no doubt that DLT's business potential as an application platform is overshadowed by recent events. But this doesn't mean it's unworthy of attention from the business executives, IT professionals, and innovators who are constantly searching for that disruptive, technological edge that can lead to game-changing advantage. In blockchain, there is definitely a baby that shouldn't be so frivolously thrown out with the bathwater.
To help organizations understand and unlock the unique value proposition of DLT, Blockchain Journal (informally, "BCJ") will initially be devoting itself to four major areas of content:
- Blockchain Vocabulary: If you believe that you are computer savvy to the point that you can grok just about any technology article or hold your own in the geekiest of conversations, then you're in for a bit of a shock. Like I said earlier in this introduction to Blockchain Journal, I've been a technology journalist for over 30 years. Relying on my computer science degree and my early years as a developer, I've written authoritatively about some of the most complicated technical subject matter. After all, at the end of the day, most of computing is about moving bits across a bus, whether it's a network bus or a memory bus. But once you're grounded in some of these very basic computing fundamentals – toss in a pinch of memory allocation and a dash of registers – it usually isn't difficult to join just about any conversation. Unless of course, you're talking about the DLT conversation. Then? All bets are off.
When I first went down the blockchain rabbit hole (more on that later), I was mortified at how little I understood and even more terrified at how impossible it was to deduce anything from an ordinary sentence. There's no faking it. No nodding in agreement because you recognize a few words. Even the word "blockchain" – one type of DLT (and like Kleenex, an eponym colloquially used for the other types as well) – is often a misnomer unless you can pick up on the subtleties of the context in which it's used. Before business and IT professionals can even begin to consider the potential impact of DLT on their organizations (let alone collaborate as they should on new blockchain initiatives), fluency in blockchain vernacular is a must. For that reason, we are developing a glossary of DLT terminology that not only offers definitions, but relevance to business and IT professionals.
Additionally, given how your fluency with the lexicon will greatly improve your understanding and relevancy of everything we publish, Blockchain Journal's glossary is neither a single scrollable page of terms nor just a bunch of web pages similar to other article content. It's a part of the evolving infrastructural data fabric of our site. Using mouseovers (and taps on mobile), we give readers direct access to glossary entries from wherever the corresponding terminology appears across our site's article content. As you mouse over a term that's listed in our glossary, a definition window will auto-hover in place, giving you direct access to not just the term's definition as it appears in our glossary, but eventually, its acronyms, synonyms, and a list of other related terms (all searchable with BCJ's lightning-fast search facilities). Is a term missing or do you take issue with one of our definitions? We want to hear from you. You can email the [email protected] or engage with us in the #glossary-feedback channel on Blockchain Journal's Discord server.
- Awareness of Blockchain as an Application Platform: Enterprises and business are quite accustomed to the adoption of special-purpose application platforms, which have a very unique value proposition that is so widely available and so well-suited to certain use cases that virtually no competitive advantage can be acquired through attempts to build versus "buy" (although in the case of DLT, there is very little if anything to buy).
Examples include customer relationship management (CRM) systems such as that offered by Salesforce; enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems such as those offered by SAP and Oracle; and content management systems (CMS) like WordPress and Drupal. Sure, enterprises could build their own versions of these systems from scratch. But after nearly a half a century of buying and running business information technology, enterprises have wisened up to an important best practice; their precious resources (time, money, people, etc.) are best spent on initiatives that yield competitive advantage instead of on proprietary reproductions of commodity functionality that's already widely available to competitors.
Despite common belief (and many widely circulated tropes), as application platforms go, DLT is uniquely qualified to address a range of business use cases to which other application platforms are not well-suited. It's about the right tool for the right job. Some of these use cases may involve re-platforming an existing application because no amount of customization can bring an existing platform up to par with the functionality of DLT. Other use cases involve the opportunity for innovation where certain ideas were simply unthinkable before blockchain technology showed up on the scene.
In order for IT professionals and business executives to spot DLT as a potentially game-changing technology within their industries, they first need a source of educational content that not only drives awareness of DLT and its unique value proposition, they need to see its relevance to their use cases, business requirements, and opportunities to drive competitive advantage. However, even after that relevance is clear – as with any paradigm-shifting technology that came along in the last 30 years (internet, web, mobile, cloud, artificial intelligence, etc.) – barriers to adoption remain. Never mind the regulatory and compliance uncertainties. In the case of blockchain, the headlines in the mainstream media alone – which have nothing to do with the potential of DLT as an application platform – are enough to frighten any business technologist from ever thinking about using the technology.
But I've seen this movie before. You know, the one where a majority of organizations take a dim or ultraconservative view of some new technology and by the time a startup, competitor, or other early adopter has used it to wholly disrupt an entire industry, it's too late to react?
With the need for that sort of education, awareness, and management of the barriers in mind, Blockchain Journal intends to be the world's go-to source of information for enterprises interested in exploring the connection between the unique capabilities of DLT and their underserved opportunities for digital transformation, business innovation, and industry disruption.
- Choosing from Among the Many DLTs: Once our efforts in the areas of vocabulary and awareness have sufficiently whetted your appetite for a DLT project or strategy, selecting a ledger from the thousands of offerings out there (yes, there's more to DLT than just Bitcoin and Ethereum) can be daunting. But don't worry, Blockchain Journal will have you covered there as well.
For starters, if you're looking for some sort of Top Ten list of the best enterprise-grade DLTs, you've come to the wrong place. As you may have heard, "give a man a fish, feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and feed him for a lifetime." After working with this audience for more than three decades, I've learned that IT professionals are extremely contemplative and diligent in making their selections for just about every category of strategic technology. They rarely act immediately on the recommendations of others and prefer to research the attributes of the competing solutions in the context of the criteria that's most important to them.
Speaking of which, I've also developed an appreciation (one that will be clearly acknowledged in the content of Blockchain Journal) for how the enterprise selection criteria from one category of technology to the next hardly differs. Yes, businesses will eventually measure competing CRM systems on their abilities to better manage customer relationships. And competing ERP systems on their abilities to better manage corporate resources. But equally important to all categories of technology are the generic criteria that all businesses are sensitive to; total cost of ownership, interoperability, compliance with standards, reliability, and security just to name a few.
In the spirit of teaching a man to fish, Blockchain Journal will publish content that enables informed decision-making when it comes to considering the many options in the context of both DLT-specific criteria as well as your run-of-the-mill "this applies to everything we buy" criteria (even though no one actually "buys" a distributed ledger; one of many great topics that we'll explore).
- Putting Trends into a Decision-Making Context: In order to avoid today's trending blockchain news, one would have to be hiding under a rock – like Plymouth Rock or the Rock of Gibraltar. There is of course all the doom, gloom, and armchair quarterbacking that goes with the coverage of Sam Bankman-Fried and FTX, along with a never-ending stream of hacks and exfiltrations of funds (some very questionable, maybe others not so much). At the time I wrote this welcome message and mission statement, the press, blogosphere, and Twittersphere were busting at the seams with "I told you so's." Meanwhile, it would be impossible to enumerate the many forces currently influencing domestic (US) and international lawmaking and regulatory activities. It's enough to make anyone's head spin.
Given Blockchain Journal's focus on DLT as an application platform for enterprises and businesses, it might appear on first blush that these headlines are of little or no consequence to decision-makers. But, the truth is, there is relevance. For example, given how the collapse of algorithmic stablecoin TerraUSD negatively impacted the reliability of its sister chain (Luna), I've been arguing that businesses concerned with DLT uptime should avoid Luna-like chains whose reliability is dangerously tied to algorithmic stablecoins (as opposed to asset-backed stablecoins).
Similarly, despite an abundance of tea leaves to read, there's really no telling where exactly all the domestic and international lawmaking activities will land. The constantly shifting sands of regulation should be of paramount interest to early adopters who want to leverage DLT for competitive advantage while at the same time staying aligned to a moving compliance target.
In other words, it's important to keep an eye on the news, but maybe not necessarily for the obvious reasons that everyone might think. This will also be one of the objectives of the BCJ editorial team.
Blockchain Journal's Brand Experience
When building a site of BCJ's nature, content is unquestionably king. Not only am I a big believer in developing content according to rigorous, independent, and comprehensive journalistic principles (while maintaining its relevance to a specific target audience), I'm also a bit of a fanatic when it comes to the sort of brand experience our readers will get across a variety of devices. This isn't just about responsive design – where our pages dynamically reconfigure themselves according to desktop or mobile – it's about a fun, modern, frictionless, and intuitive user interface. Websites that serve the information needs of businesses are often boring and too business-like in their design.
While building BlockchainJournal.com, I challenged the designers to not only come up with an entertaining look, feel, and brand, but to also ensure that the user interface encourages search and exploration. Yes, we want the content to be enterprise-grade. But design matters too, and so, as time goes on, we will relentlessly look for opportunities to improve not just our information architecture, but the experience that sits on top of it.
As such, I encourage you to be on the lookout for some rather unorthodox design elements. For example, harkening back to the blockchain rabbit hole that I alluded to earlier, it's relatively impossible to explore a nook or cranny of DLT without falling into a rabbit hole. Appropo of this situation, when you encounter a Blockchain Journal article that's literally labeled "Rabbit Hole," you'll know that you've encountered one of our comprehensive, in-depth primers written with one goal in mind; to convert you into a well-educated, blockchain-fluent disruptor of the status quo.
Of course, what rabbit hole would be complete without the rabbit who dug it? So, along with the launch of our site, we'll be introducing DiLTy, the DLT rabbit (and the official mascot of Blockchain Journal). DiLTy is actually a cool little guy and, over the years, we envision him sticking his nose into all sorts of issues, starting with the World Economic Forum in Davos where DiLTy and the Blockchain Journal video team will be on-site to gauge the global interest in DLT after a calamitous year that didn't exactly leave a great taste in everyone's mouth.
Finally, no media brand can go the long haul without some form of sponsorship. Bringing BlockchainJournal.com to life has involved the help of full-stack developers, writers, editors, researchers, designers, web producers, and video specialists. Not surprisingly, they all expect to get paid for their work. In fiat currency too. The nerve of some people! So, as the editor-in-chief, I would be remiss not to disclose that our initial source of funding is Swirlds Labs, one of the many organizations that contribute to the success of the Hedera public distributed ledger. In light of this disclosure, there will be those who look to discredit the integrity of our editorial based on this relationship.
When I first started in the field of special interest publishing, my father (who himself made a career out of vertical market media), taught me that media companies are three-legged stools – content, audience, and sponsorship – and that it only takes the loss of one leg for the stool to fall over. If the integrity of your content is compromised in some way, you'll lose your audience; and if you have no audience, the sponsors will abandon you next. Once the sponsors are gone, you have to lay off your staff. It's a vicious circle.
This is familiar territory for me. For as long as I've been a technology journalist, I've been proving that it's possible to separate church from state; editorial from sponsorship. Most recently, I spent 10 years as the editor-in-chief of ProgrammableWeb.com, widely regarded as the official journal of the API economy. Shortly after ProgrammableWeb was acquired by MuleSoft in 2013, I was appointed as its editor-in-chief. MuleSoft (along with ProgrammableWeb) was eventually acquired by Salesforce in 2018.
Despite MuleSoft and Salesforce's ownership, ProgrammableWeb maintained its integrity as an independent, objective observer of the API economy and always, without fail, disclosed its relationship in any editorial that mentioned either owner. I wanted the impartiality of the editorial to speak for itself. Over that entire decade, ProgrammableWeb's editorial integrity was never challenged. In fact, ProgrammableWeb was so entrusted with the responsibility of impartiality that MuleSoft's competitors often briefed its editors under non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) in advance of their upcoming product news; a trust that was never betrayed.
MuleSoft acquired ProgrammableWeb because it was convinced that, if ProgrammableWeb could help educate enterprises on the importance of using APIs to reformulate their IT, then all boats in the API management market, including its own, would float higher. Similarly, as the idea for Blockchain Journal took shape, supporters from across the Hedera ecosystem were aligned to the need to objectively educate IT and business professionals on the enterprise efficacy of DLT not just for Hedera's own benefit, but for the entire industry. Eventually, when our website's technology is ready, there will be opportunities for other sponsors to get involved.
With all that said, I hope you find Blockchain Journal as educational and informative as we intend it to be. We are just getting started, so you may encounter a few unpolished edges and wrinkles. If you do, or if you have questions, comments, suggestions, or even criticism, I'm easy to find at [email protected]. I look forward to our journey together.