The ever-interesting Dave Gray mentioned something called the Sideways Dictionary the other day. The Sideways Dictionary attempts to define/explain technology terms by offering analogies rather than definitions.

For example, if you look up “blockchain” on the Sideways Dictionary, you’ll (currently) start with an analogy that begins, “It’s like the minutes at a Town Hall meeting, written by two very accurate people. . . .” There are currently five blockchain analogies. Some are better than others. The one analogizing a blockchain to to a public money ledger is one that I might use. The notion of “distributed ledger system” is so essential to an understanding of blockchain.

For me, getting a good understanding takes several tries from several different directions. I read many articles on blockchain before Gwynne Monahan and I wrote our “blockchain for lawyers” article called “Lawyers Get Ready There’s a Blockchain Coming” article in January, 2017. We made a valiant attempt in the article to explain blockchain in a simple and accessible way.

When I was asked to write an article on smart contracts (essentially, blockchain applications) for lawyers, “Thinking Smartly About Smart Contracts,” I tried to improve on that explanation. You never know how successful you are.

For me, the explanation of blockchain that worked for me was in the book, The Age of Cryptocurrency: How Bitcoin and the Blockchain Are Challenging the Global Economic Order, by Paul Vigna and Michael J. Casey.

After recommending the book to others, I realized that an explanation that might be wonderful for me could be entirely opaque to someone else. I’ve sent people to podcast episodes and articles that I thought were crystal clear and had people tell me that they could not make any sense of them.

I do, however, get asked on a regular basis to point people to resources that explain “the blockchain.”

I decided to publish this post in which I have collected a bunch of useful and succinct “blockchain explainers.” My idea is to keep adding to this post as I find useful explainers. there’s no doubt that I’ve missed many good ones, so I encourage you to submit comments to this post with suggestions for additions to the list and I can add them.

My focus here is on “Blockchain 101” information, not in-depth technical discussions.

Here’s my starter list (in no particular order at the moment):

If, after that, you are ready to dig in deeper, I highly recommend that lawyers (and others) get an understanding of business aspects of blockchain. Any one of these four books should get you started:

Blockchain Revolution: How the Technology Behind Bitcoin Is Changing Money, Business, and the World, by Don Tapscott and Alex Tapscott

The Business Blockchain: Promise, Practice, and Application of the Next Internet Technology, by William Mougayar

The Age of Cryptocurrency: How Bitcoin and the Blockchain Are Challenging the Global Economic Order, by Paul Vigna and Michael J. Casey

The Truth Machine: The Blockchain and the Future of Everything, by Paul Vigna and Michael J. Casey

Don’t be discouraged if it takes you several tries to grab hold of the concept.

If you have any other resources for the list, please let me know.


Symmetry Blockchain Advisors Beginner Resources (Debbie Hoffman)


[Originally posted on DennisKennedy.Blog (]

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