What is Ethereum?

Before you can understand ethereum, it's a good idea to first understand the internet.

Currently, our personal data, passwords and financial information are mostly stored on other people's computers - in the cloud and servers owned by companies such as Amazon, Facebook or Google. Even this CoinDesk article is stored on a server controlled by a company that requests a fee to store this data if needed.

This setup has a number of conveniences, because these companies deploy a team of specialists to help store and secure this data, and remove the costs that come with hosting and active time.

But with this convenience, there are also vulnerabilities. As we have learned, a hacker or government can get unwanted access to your files without your knowledge, by influencing or attacking third-party services - meaning they can steal, leak, or change important information.

Brian Behlendorf, creator of Apache Web Server, has gone further by calling this centralized design the "original sin" of the Internet. Some, like Behlendorf, argue that the Internet has always been intended to be decentralized, and a fragmented movement has emerged using new tools, including blockchain technology, to help achieve this goal.

Ethereum is one of the latest technologies to join this movement.

While bitcoin aims to disrupt PayPal and online banking, ethereum has the goal of using a blockchain to replace third-party internet - parties that store data, transfer mortgages and track complex financial instruments.

"Computer World"
In short, ethereum wants to be a 'Computer World' which will decentralize - and some people will debate, democratize - existing client-server models.

With ethereum, servers and clouds are replaced by thousands called "nodes" run by volunteers from all over the world (thus forming "world computers").

The vision is that ethereum will enable this same function for people anywhere in the world, enabling them to compete offering services above this infrastructure.

Scrolling through a regular application store, for example, you will see a variety of colorful boxes that represent everything from banking to fitness to messaging applications. This application relies on the company (or other third party services) to store your credit card information, purchase history and other personal data - somewhere, generally on servers controlled by third parties.

The choice of your application is of course also regulated by a third party, because Apple and Google maintain and compile (or in some cases, censor) certain applications that you can download.

Take for example online document services such as Evernote or Google Docs.

Ethereum, if everything goes according to plan, will restore control of data in this type of service to the owner and the copyright to the manufacturer.

The idea is that one entity will no longer have control over your records and that no one can suddenly ban the application itself, while taking all your notebooks offline. Only users can make changes, not other entities.

In theory, this combines the control people have of their information in the past with easily accessible information that we normally use in the digital age. Every time you save edits, or add or delete records, each node on the network makes changes.

It should be noted that this idea has been filled with skepticism.

Even though the application seems to be possible, it is not clear which blockchain application actually proves to be useful, safe, or scalable, and whether they will be as comfortable to use as the application that we are currently using.
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