Blockchain - the Distributed Journal Technology

in blockchain •  4 months ago

Everybody has taken to calling blockchain a "distributed ledger technology".

At least from 2015 and the famous article in "The Economist" called "The Trust Machine" in which it was said

The blockchain is an even more potent technology. In essence it is a shared, trusted, public ledger that everyone can inspect, but which no single user controls.

(on a side note, remember when bitcoin "had been stable at around $250 for most of the year"? That's another quote from the same article)

However now, the very well regarded International Standards Organisation (ISO) has taken to establishing a terminology for blockchain systems in its Technical Committee 307 (TC 307), dedicated to "Blockchain and distributed ledger technologies" .

When reading its recently circulated Terminology Working Draft N 318 from July 25th 2018, I was suddenly a bit embarrassed upon falling upon this:


distributed ledger (3.19)

That is because I am no accountant but I know enough accounting to know that, despite what the newspapers and the general public has taken to believe, blockchains are NOT ledgers but "journals".

An accounting journal is different, very different from a ledger, at least to an accountant.


Of course for me or any normal person, I can sleep very well without knowing the difference between a "ledger" and a "journal".

As an IT person I am perfectly happy to go with the stream and talk about "distributed ledgers". Why would I want to appear as a "know it all" by insisting on "correct accounting terminology" when I'm not even an accountant myself!

But the problem here is that we are in a very formal setting: that of ISO and IEC which happen to have official definitions for these terms, definitions you can find here.

A blockchain does not have "debits, credits, and all other money transactions under each individual account or heading", the data is not organized. Thus it is not a ledger.

A blockchain does have a set of recorded, time-tagged event transactions, variable data, and/or comments, that may be logically ordered during retrieval.
So, while for the layman that I am, calling blockchain "a distributed ledger" is perfectly dandy, I do not see how can ISO justify catching its feet into its own carpet …

For ISO, in order for its own body of knowledge (its ontology) to remain consistent, a blockchain has to be "a distributed journal", not a distributed ledger, regardless of what the non-accounting oriented journalists and IT people want to call it …

If you know what witnesses are and agree that people commited to keeping this blockchain ticking play an important role ...

(by simply clicking on the picture - thanks to SteemConnect)

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I like how you "dissect" these "trendy blockchain words" we just eat up and swallow all the time with out thinking any further about it, it shows you are a very diligent person and a trustable witness, this is why I have voted for @lux-witness!!!

And I will try and spread the word, so that you at least end up on that top 50 list... That would be very cool!!!

I can't upvote this article right now because I lost 50% of my voting power, and I need to recharge. But I am with you in spirit!



Good catch Sorin, and one easily understandable by many laymen, once explained. I wonder why would these ISO and IEC guys fall in this trap. The only explanations I could come up with is they really don't know what a blockchain is and take the term used by those who should know it better for granted, or they don't really care. Either explanations are disappointing from organizations which set standards.


As I recently read a tweet from Michel Rauchs, blockchains are multi-disciplinary

Whereas ISO and IEC are expert organizations - experts are very good in their field but nearly clueless in any other field. The likeliest explanation is that the accountants in ISO do not understand anything about blockchain while the IT people who get blockchain don't know zilch about accounting ...


The likeliest explanation is that the accountants in ISO do not understand anything about blockchain while the IT people who get blockchain don't know zilch about accounting ...

That's why, when expert lines of communication are broken, layman language always works. With the condition that both parties still remember this language.

is good to have a few things that make our life better when we use the blockchain i belive that there is a posibility to replace the online with blockchain

Hallo @sorin.cristescu!
I invited you to join the "whitelist" on the MinnowBooster. It will need to be confirmed by 5 members before you are accepted, so patience is required. ;-s
Log in and have a look:
Good luck!


Hallo @nexit! Thank you, but ...

  1. I'm not exactly a Minnow ... and while I'd like to be a MinnowBooster, my engagement on Steemit is already at the maximum of my available time. I do not manage to find time for all the posts I'd like to write ... minnowboosting would not benefit a lot from my presence.
  2. I'd first need to hold a vigorous debate with you on why you'd see the Netherlands exiting the EU :-) I'm a big fan of the EU, as a matter of fact I work for the EU ... so I have trouble understanding people who don't like the EU :-)

Cheers !