A way forward with open source and Blockchain
Blockchain brings the promise of transparency and security to transactions of any kind. In this article, Marta Piekarska explains how this transformative technology can change secured communications while relying on open source principles.
Today, most people understand the concept of open source. Many are fascinated by the sexiness of it. Open source is the new black. Same as Blockchain is the new black.
Blockchain brings the promise of tracking and giving transparency to all transactions and making them tamper-proof since individual transactions are not kept in a single place but stored on computers globally. It is a technology that, when built into other solutions, allows to remove the reliance on third parties for reconciliation, allows for clear transparency and audibility.
Once we got comfortable with the spectrum of the permissioned blockchains, like ones developed under the Hyperledger umbrella, and permissionless ones, like Bitcoin or Z-cash, the number of applications became countless. No wonder we are getting lost in the space. Some of the exciting examples include healthcare, the music industry, and insurance.
Blockchain offers healthcare a chance to reinvent what has always been a thorny problem — sharing medical records between organizations, and making them as easy to send back and forth, without risking security or compliance of patient data.
Counterfeit medicine is also a big issue pharma companies face in their everyday operations since there are many stakeholders involved in the supply chain. Recall of drugs and avoiding counterfeit drugs from entering into legit marketplaces will help in reducing the losses and improving service delivery to the end customer. Blockchain could be used to maintain the entire supply chain in healthcare.
For insurance, we can start digital identity systems and management of personal data. An identity created within a blockchain would be completely unique and offer a higher level of security that the insured party was who they claim to be and offer a greater sense of online security in general.
The reduced administration costs and increased levels of security are both major benefits to customers even if they are challenging for the current insurance model to handle. It is possible we could even start to reinvent government services through blockchain tech, from land titles and other sorts of registration and permit systems to identity systems or even voting systems.
The dark side of open source
However, there is a dark side to open source. It is the openness of participation. Unlike with pay to play options, in open source no one can force you to contribute back. It is a volunteer work of 150 members, 16,500 developers worldwide. But equally so many people develop in-house and forget, are shy, or anxious to share their stories. It is hard to admit you failed. It is hard to say you found bugs.
It is hard to face the community and contribute your work. Sometimes your company’s policy doesn’t allow for that. Sometimes it’s because it requires additional work. Sometimes it’s simply something you wouldn’t think of.
Truth is that open source is not a one-way road. We can only exist with contributors and maintainers. Without them, the projects will die. And today, thankfully, we have a vibrant community and meetups around the world – more than 70 up to date — but we always strive for more.
We’re just on the edge of blockchain’s potential. And there is no doubt that open source will fuel the big vision for this technology as part of a new Internet technology stack. The beauty of cross-company and an industry open source project like Hyperledger is that organizations can share the unprofitable and unsexy work of building the libraries and standards. The goal for the best-run open source projects isn’t just to solve some technical problem in an open way but to be a long-term bedrock foundation for a software ecosystem. This is what the blockchain community needs today, and that’s why Hyperledger exists.
This article is part of last year’s “All eyes on Open Source” JAX Magazine issue:
Open source skills are a boost for career prospects — if you don’t believe it, it’s time to bring out the big guns.
We invited the Eclipse Foundation, The Apache Software Foundation, Cloud Foundry, Red Hat, Hyperledger and more to show you why open source is important. You’ll surely learn a lot from their experiences!