Everyone loves a fairytale on growing up. Who does not know Snow White, or Cinderella, or the “kiss from the Prince” that could bring back the dead to life or from a long sleep? Most fairytales are attributed to the Brothers Grimm but in fact, they only collected these tales and rewrote them along the way to “protect them from censorship” by the Church, which was very powerful during those days.
Moving now into adult life with my own family, I had begun unraveling the “secrets” of fairytales and their application to modern life. Even now, one could detect that “fairy tales in the German culture have a long tradition of political and utopian purpose, by the Twentieth century and it had virtually become the German genre.”
Take note also that, left, right and center, “political parties fought to acquire the hearts and minds of the young, and in 1931 almost 40% of the membership of the Nazi party was under 30.”
Here is my nagging question: Would the fairytales have survived better on the blockchain? Or are they also the inspiration for men to take control of their own lives, away from suppressive centralized institutions? Or is blockchain leading us out of the coming quagmire of dark days, when all can be suppressed and manipulated by politics and the ruling system?
Yes, precisely I am asking that crucial question – Is blockchain the modern day “Hansel and Gretel” story, a warning made indelible in the digital ledgers, forever free from suppression and immutable.
Blockchain: Future record keeper
Over the past ten years, in the fields of banking, investing, or cryptocurrency, you would have come across the term “blockchain,” the record-keeping technology behind Bitcoin. And if it doesn’t make much sense to you, you are in good company.
The generic definition goes like this: “blockchain is a distributed, decentralized, public ledger.” That sounds vague and leaves you slightly bewildered as to exactly what that means. The good news is, blockchain is actually easier to understand than that definition sounds.
When our kids were small we used to cuddle up in bed together before they went to sleep and I would tell them fairy tales.
One of them is the story of Hansel and Gretel, a sad story of poverty, hardship, enterprise and loss. In the tale, Hansel and Gretel are taken deep into the forest by their father and stepmother and left to fend for themselves, as their parents could not afford to care for them anymore.
The children had overheard their parents plotting, and Hansel had planned a way to get back, by dropping breadcrumbs as they walked through the forest so that he and Gretel could find their way back home again. Birds eat the breadcrumbs and they are unable to find their way out of the forest in this way.
The word breadcrumb comes from the fairy tale story of Hansel and Gretel.
A digital breadcrumb trail
We use the term breadcrumb trail today to denote connected bits of information that may be followed back to the source. The concept of a digital breadcrumb trail isn’t new. In the digital world, intentionally or unintentionally, we leave behind a trail, a series of connected pieces of information or evidence of information that can reveal a lot about our behaviour.
I’d like to set the scene for a modern-day Hansel and Gretel, one in which you play the starring role.
- Hansel and Gretel = You
- Breadcrumbs = the record of your education
- Your parents = potential future learning institutions, employers, travel opportunities and job offers.
- The birds = war, famine, political change, the closing of schools, loss of qualification records, theft, hacking, etc
Once upon a time, far far away in the land of India, Saanvi woke up early one humid morning, and the first thing on her mind was the English language test she was taking at school that day. She heard the buzz of the Dharavi slum around their small house, as people were up getting ready for work. Mumbai was on the move.
“Saanvi” her mother called,”breakfast is ready”.
She could smell the fresh Chapati her mother had baked in the kitchen, “Coming mother”.
She quickly looked through her Facebook feed, then checked her weather app for the weekend coming up. Saanvi had started leaving a trail of digital breadcrumbs…….
She jumped out of bed, dressed and washed her face, rushing through to breakfast.
On her way to school she sent a Facebook message to her friend telling him she was crossing the bridge near the Sunni Noori Masjid mosque.
Her friend replied: “Haha – you’re a bad liar! Your message location says you’re near Mahim nature park!”
She updated her Instagram story before she bought a cup of tea from the supermarket with her visa card, and arrived in school on time, unaware of the unintentional trail of digital breadcrumbs she had left so far that day.
We all leave these unintentional breadcrumb trails behind us every day.
Intentional breadcrumbs on the blockchain
What if, Hansel and Gretel (You) were intentional about creating education “breadcrumbs” on the blockchain, a record of all of your academic achievements, easy to follow back to you by “your parents” (potential future learning institutions, employers, travel opportunities and job offers.)
Blockchain breadcrumbs would allow you to create verifiable & immutable records of any types of data which are not possible using traditional technologies.
On the blockchain, you would be able to generate a Proof-of-Existence, Proof-of-Authenticity & Proof-of-Integrity of a file, record, document, certificate, or degree.
This will capitalize on the advantages of the Blockchain network in creating an ecosystem for the secure transfer, authorization, integrity, and authenticity of data, creating a platform for structured storage which is easy for you to use and access your data, and has good security.
This secure storage would be untouchable by the “birds” (war, famine, political change, closing of schools, loss of qualification records, theft, hacking, etc)
Saanvi smiled, secure in the knowledge that all her hard work was safely protected and easily accessible to anyone she wanted to share it with in the future.
Imagine the continuing saga of Saanvi in the land of Ai, crypto, and blockchain applications…
A fairytale invitation…
I leave you now with this parting thought: ‘Generally speaking, the fairy-tale garb was used to cloak an ideology that rationalized the use of power in authoritarian ways.’ But with the blockchain now in “proletarian” hands, what can we do with the breadcrumbs to win over the witch?