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How Can You Join a Blockchain?



How can you join a blockchain?

As you’ve seen in the previous chapters, a blockchain is a digital ledger of transactions that are added to existing blocks. These blocks are linked together using cryptographic hash functions. These transactions are added by individuals who undertake blockchain mining. And mining is just one of the many ways to become a part of the blockchain. There are other ways too, as we’ll discuss later in this chapter. 

 

However, let’s first take a closer look at how you get a transaction into the blockchain, in the first place. Once you understand that, it gets easier to understand how you can join a blockchain. 

How does a transaction become a part of the blockchain?

The simplest way to put it is that a transaction can only become a part of the blockchain after it is authenticated and authorized. 

 

Although there is no central authority governing blockchains, authentication is still essential for the transactions that are added to the chain. This is done using cryptographic hash functions, which help identify a user and give them access to their wallet. Each user on the blockchain is given a private key and a public key. And using the combination of these two keys helps in authenticating the user and in unlocking the transaction they want to undertake.

 

Similarly, authorization is also essential to make a transaction complete. The user needs to authorize the transaction once it has been initiated. 

 

Now that you’ve understood how authentication and authorization work, let’s take a look at the steps involved in getting a transaction into a blockchain.

 

  1. The transaction request is generated and the transaction is initiated.
  2. A block that represents the transaction is then created.
  3. This block is then sent to every participant (aka nodes) on the blockchain.
  4. The nodes validate the transaction, and then the transaction is completed.
  5. This transaction is then updated on the network.
  6. And the block is added to the blockchain. 
  7. The nodes (aka participants) receive rewards for the Proof of Work in the cryptocurrency that is supported by the blockchain.

So then, how do you become a part of the blockchain?

There are many ways to become a part of the blockchain. Let’s take a closer look at the ways in which you can join a blockchain or be a part of the blockchain ecosystem. 

 

  • By making a transaction on the blockchain

When you make a transaction on the blockchain, you immediately become a part of the network in a manner of speaking. Any transaction counts, like investing in a cryptocurrency, trading it, or swapping it for another currency.

 

  • By mining

Mining, as you’ve seen above, is an essential and integral part of the blockchain ecosystem. And that is definitely one of the best ways to join a blockchain. However, to get started with mining, you need to invest in some high-grade infrastructure.

 

  • By staking

Staking is the process by which you lock up or commit some of your existing cryptocurrency holdings to create more of the cryptocurrency. And if you already have some cryptocurrency in your name, you can try staking it to join a blockchain. 

 

  • By using blockchain-based applications

Another way of joining a blockchain is to use apps that are based on blockchain technology. For example, Uniswap is an app that helps you exchange currencies. Then, there is Helium Network, which allows users to own and operate wireless networks for Internet of Things (IoT) devices.

Summing up

There are many other apps too that you can use to join the blockchain ecosystem. If the rapid progress we are seeing today continues, it may not be many years before everybody is a part of the blockchain ecosystem in one way or the other, much like how we are all connected to the internet today. 

A quick recap

  • Mining is just one of the many ways to become a part of the blockchain.
  • Also, when you make a transaction on the blockchain, you immediately become a part of the network in a manner of speaking. 
  • Staking is another way to join a blockchain. It is the process by which you lock up or commit some of your existing cryptocurrency holdings to create more of the cryptocurrency. 
  • Another way of joining a blockchain is to use apps that are based on blockchain technology.



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