What is William Mougayar’s book ‘The Business Blockchain: Promise, Practice, and Application of the Next Internet Technology’ about? Read the GreatBooks&Coffee book review and summary of Mougayar’s book ‘The Business Blockchain’!
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Book Review & Summary:
‘The Business Blockchain: Promise, Practice, and Application of the Next Internet Technology’ – William Mougayar.
So, I would say that ‘The Business Blockchain‘ by William Mougayar is definitely not a bedside table and I strongly advise that you take a pen and something to take notes on if you plan on reading it. Having said this, the book is a must-read if you are interested in new technology and Blockchain discussions. Period! I’m a 30-something Ph.D., I read a lot, here’s my book review.
MEETING THE BOOK
The blockchain is one of those trendy topics at the moment, alongside Fintechs (financial technologies) and other technology-related topics.
The problem is, only a few proportion of those who talk about those topics actually know about those topics.
This book actually helped me understand who had a clue or not.
It all started a week before a technology conference I was invited to. One of the speakers, a fintech expert, had been asked to act as a moderator to one of the panels and hoped that I could help him decide whether one of the panelists actually knew about the topic.
I knew a couple of things about the blockchain obviously, but I needed a little bit of help. Knowing how fast I read and process books, he asked me to read Mougayar’s book ‘The Business Blockchain: Promise, Practice, and Application of the Next Internet Technology’ .
170 pages later (Hardcover), I showed up at the conference. Not as an expert of course, but I had done my homework so I had a pretty good understanding of the subject matter. In particular, following the moderator’s advice, I’d made sure I was ok with the technical vocabulary and the major key concepts all blockchain experts ought to know about.
The thing is, William Mougayar is a general partner at the tech fund Virtual Capital Ventures, he sits in various tech company boards and is generally described as “the most sophisticated” business thinker on the blockchain topic. In other words, he is a recognized expert and leader in the disruptive technologies field, and chances were that the book would help me get things right.
Anyway, I attended the panel event. And you know what? The panellist I was asked to look at had most of it wrong… and eventually admitted it. He didn’t master the concepts, had the terms wrong… In short, he should have read Mougayar’s book before showing up… It’s as simple as that!
So let’s review the book!
‘The Business Blockchain: Promise, Practice, and Application of the Next Internet Technology’ by William Mougayar is a very insightful book written by a recognized thought leader in the technology industry.
This is a medium-size piece (less than 200 pages) that really deserves to be read by anyone interested in new technologies and, in particular, in the development of new economic sectors such as crypto-currencies and FinTechs.
The book discusses what the Blockchains are and comments on challenges and opportunities. It provides a very complete overview of the subject matter in a way that is approachable to experts and non-experts.
The style is accessible. On the one hand, Mougayar focuses on a complex topic that relates to technology developments and internet know-how, which means that he uses some technical terms and concepts at times. On the other hand, he clearly aims at explaining the Blockchain issue and takes the reader by the hand throughout, with practical examples being provided to transform a theoretical discussion into something practical that can be understood.
The book is separated into seven clear chapters which all deal with a specific and carefully treated topic. We are however going to look at the themes more than at the chapters.
As usual, I’ll go deeper with the first big theme of the book in this book review, but for more insights on the other themes please have a look at my book summary of William Mougayar’s book’The Business Blockchain’ – which you can get for just $3,99 with your 20% member discount! Isn’t that beautiful?
Anyway, the first theme of the book relates to a central question: what is the Blockchain?
More than merely introducing the book, this theme is a fundamental introduction to the topic as a whole.
Simply put, Mougayar explains that the Blockchain has already been relied upon for some time now, but he also insists that there is a major lack of awareness on the subject matter.
To him, most people have no idea about what the concept of Blockchain means. Most people have no idea about the role they play. Most people completely ignore what operations they perform. Last but not least, unsurprisingly, most people, businesses and regulators therefore have no idea about the major role the Blockchain will play in the future either.
In his words, “Blockchain are not a product that you can turn-on and use. Blockchain will unable other products that you will use, while you may not know there is a Blockchain behind them”. This is because the Blockchain works as a fundamental sequencing logic. It is a different way of automating processes through a network relied upon because of its ability to generate trusted operations without any interference or central influence.
Let’s repeat this sentence here, as it is key to understanding what the rest of the book is about. The Blockchain is a fundamental sequencing logic, it is a different way of automating processes through a network relied upon because of its ability to generate trusted operations without any interference or central influence.
Hey, but wait, what on earth do you mean here? Ok, let’s explain this.
So far, our systems have been relying on what Mougayar and all the experts in the field call “centralized” mechanisms, that is, systems contained within one central source. Here, a central server operates transactions and manages data; but because all the data is “centralized” it can also be influenced by whoever has a direct access to the system. Owner, or hacker.
For Mougayar, this therefore means that a centralized system is vulnerable and that it is overall largely unable to generate trust. Yet, trust remains the key component of any transaction!
The Blockchain, in contrast, is a decentralized system which relies (and depends) on multiple computers capable of containing and preserving the authenticity of data because all the servers and computers share the exact same data. Said differently, while data in a centralized system can be corrupted by whoever gains access to the central system, data in a Blockchain-based system is trustworthy because the whole network guarantees the authenticity of every block of the chain.
Mougayar thus provides multiple definition of the Blockchain depending on the perspective one or another actor might take. To technicians, the Blockchain will describe a database and transactional system. To a business, the Blockchain will rather describe a a solution to operate transactions and exchange assets and values without having recourse to influencing or corrupting the intermediaries. Etc.
Accordingly, the Blockchain can also be seen as a trusted validation system that is nothing more than the “continuation of the history of the internet”.
This point is a key argument for Mougayar, who insists that the Blockchain is overall a “new protocol that sits on top of the internet” and has the potential of reshuffling the cards. The Blockchain, however, is not a new internet. It is a technological development that already challenges past and current technologies, it is a new opportunity to control value flows without intermediaries taking over, but it is not a new internet.
Mougayar gives many practical examples of how the Blockchain can operate, but one is particularly easy to understand: banking.
While banks are cash managers that set up cash management strategies, their interaction with their online clients is limited to giving them access to the database that contains their personal financial information.
The Blockchain, in contrast, is not about managing cash. It is about providing a verification system ensuring and guaranteeing that transactions are safe and trustworthy. Hence, whilst online banking can require manual operations by the bank and entails a margin of error, automatic Blockchain operations are about increasing transactional safety by making the need for such an intermediary obsolete.
Of course, and as those familiar with Blockchain technologies will expect, Mougayar also describes the Blockchain system by referring to the well-known issue of the “Byzantine Generals problem”. Simply put, when planning a military action, a General needs to mitigate attempts by traitors to take over, he needs to send messages and to know that his messages will arrive on time and unaltered. The General needs to trust the messenger.
From a more modern perspective, the Blockchain plays the role of the trusted messenger capable of transmitting information by means of hashing, certifying, encrypting and decrypting data blocks operating one after another (in chains). Without forgetting the role played by signature when it comes to authenticity guarantees.
Thus, Mougayar describes the Blockchain as a large system that helps securing a variety of activities ranging from crypto currency to transaction and development platforms or computer infrastructures, open some systems (such as Bitcoin) or peer-to-peer mechanisms. It is an additional trust layer that certifies that blocks of information are reliable and which accordingly guarantees a trusted chain of transactions.
‘The Business Blockchain: Promise, Practice, and Application of the Next Internet Technology’ contributes to a variety of discussions on modern technologies.
Considering that the Blockchain has become a trendy word lately for technology-oriented people, Mougayar’s book can be considered as an introductory piece useful to understand the basics. But it also has the merit of taking the readers to the next level to the extent that it does explain many subtleties essential to understanding the issue.
The book helps getting the basics right, which is important to highlight because defining the Blockchain is not easy. Even “experts” tend to struggle with the exercise when asked. And I’ve seen it with my own eyes.
‘The Business Blockchain’ (as the full title suggests) also explains the potential of the Blockchain technology for business. Mougayar talks about a revolutionary type of infrastructure, about a mechanism that nobody sees but which is clearly there already. It is not only a matter of crypto-currencies, it is also a computing infrastructure, a platform capable of following the validation of successive transactions, as well as a development platform based on open source and peer-to-peer technologies.
Last (but not least), the book talks about a technological revolution and Mougayar points to the Blockchain’s ability to create a valuable system in which the role and influence of intermediaries is limited: with the blockchain, the time-consuming (and overall subjective) trust-building process is replaced by automatic chain actions which guarantee reliability and help identifying weak spots.
That’s it for now, but don’t stop here! The next step for you is to move on and learn something!
As always, I hope you enjoyed this book review! Please let me know what you think with the comment box down the page, especially if you read the book, if you feel like buying it, or if you read my summary!
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I am a thirty-something PhD and I read a lot. GreatBooks&Coffee is my books blog! Because nowadays most people never finish the books they buy, I am sharing my reading experiences to help you pick the right books you will want to read up to the last page!