Blockchain and standarization
by Héctor Ugarte
Currently there are thousands of Blockchain projects worldwide, some of them based on forks of successful networks like Bitcoin or Ethereum, or others proposing completely new functionalities and architectures. If we envisage a future where Blockchain technology will be a pillar in the future Internet, it is necessary to begin discussing and identifying different possible standards that should be used in future Blockchain implementations. These standards would make it possible to easily interconnect projects of a different nature and to standardize the principles of this technology.
The evolution of Blockchain technology can be contrasted with the Internet. In Web 1.0 existing before 1999, and known as the Internet “read only” or “Web of documents” the information was only displayed with the possibility to use hyperlinks, then appeared the Web 2.0 known as the “Web of the people”, Where users could collaborate with content and / or modify them. Finally, the Web 3.0 “Data Web”, where information is shared and linked. Tim Berners-Lee, the creator of the World Wide Web, anticipates this evolution by proposing a fundamental pillar of the Web 3.0 known as the Semantic Web which is a set of technologies and frameworks.
The Semantic Web is based on RDF, a model for representing metadata. A set of RDF statements constitute a directed graph, in this way a large graph of linked data can be constructed. The main benefits of this technology are:
- Ability to link and map data.
A first effort to standardize this technology is the BLONDiE (Blockchain Ontology with Dynamic Extensibility) ontology. This OWL ontology can be used to express in RDF different fields of the structures of Ethereum or Bitcoin. It can also be extended to cover other Blockchain technologies. In addition, BLONDiE being OWL has the ability to make explicit knowledge available.
An ideal scenario would be that everyone would use only the original Bitcoin technology, and / or forks with minimum modifications. The protocol itself is already standardized and well-defined, but Bitcoin since presents many limitations and not being designed for other functionalities different than financial transactions, is not a realistic scenario. Currently the interoperability between Blockchain technologies is one of the most discussed issues in the Blockchain world and this is where we must focus our efforts.
Interledger, for example, is a project that seeks to make financial transactions between different Blockchain technologies. It does not use centralized systems like several current solutions, and promises to carry out secure transactions between a Bitcoin account and an Ethereum account among others.
The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) selected the Australian group “Standars Australia” to lead a committee to develop standards for Blockchain. The technical aspects to be covered are: terminology, processes and methods, privacy, cyber security, interoperability, etc.
It is necessary to start defining standards that will be used in the future. At the government level, countries should also initiate the implementation and implementation of a Blockchain system, which could have characteristics of its own and developed by engineers according to each country’s own needs.