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This article is by Featured Blogger Bob Gourley from his blog CTOvision. Republished with the author’s permission.
Bitcoin was the first implementation of a working blockchain technology. The idea has been built on with several other implementations. One of the most exciting is Ethereum. In some instances Ethereum's coin, Ether, is compared with Bitcoin, and you see both cited in cryptocurrency value listings. But Ethereum's implementation of blockchain goes far beyond the one behind Bitcoin.
Ethereum is also a way of running distributed applications. Applications can be programed to leverage the Ethereum blockchain in ways that bring the power of an open and secure distributed ledger and data store to bear in very powerful ways.
What Should Executives Know About Ethereum?
At a minimum, we recommend everyone, especially executives, know that Ethereum provides a fabric for distributed applications. For most it will also be good to know a few other details, but that is the most important point.
What Should I Know About Ethereum?
Ethereum is an open-source, public, blockchain-based distributed computing platform and operating system featuring smart contract functionality. There is a cryptocurrency built on this framework called Ether that can be bought/sold/traded and mined like Bitcoin, but Ethereum is an environment that can also be used by any programmer to create coins or other applications that leverage the power of the global Ethereum network. This is what is kicking the world of distributed computing into high gear.
In general, there are three types of players in the Ethereum ecosystem, Users, Developers and Miners.
Users: Anyone can be a user of Ethereum. You can buy and sell Ether at Coinbase, can trade Ether or other Ethereum based tokens on coin exchanges, and can interact with smart contracts and functions of companies that offer Ethereum-based functions like smart contracts.
Developers: Most anyone with some programming or CTO experience can be an Ethereum developer. The language of Ethereum distributed apps (Solidity) is very easy to learn and there are many tutorials to get you started.
Miners: Miners are those that have decided to provide computing power to make the distributed apps work in return for rewards of Ethereum (Ether) or other crypto coins.
Open a Coinbase account. It is easy to do. And if you use it to invest at least a small amount of funds it will motivate you to track the dynamics of cryptocurrencies. It will also make you more fluent in many aspects of Cryptocurrencies.
Sign up for an account on the cryptocurrency enabled Earn.com. The reason to do this is their tight connection to the cryptocurrency startup community. Leaders in the community are looking for savvy users to inform of their startups and are using Earn to find thought leaders. They pay you to read their messages (you can donate that payment to charity or keep it yourself). My view is that any startup that is vetted by Earn and will pay to have me read a message deserves to have the message read and so far I have not been disappointed, it is a great way to learn what is going on in the community.
Read over the main page at Ethereum.org. It does a great job of describing what is possible in a very clear way. And if you are feeling daring, work through some of the tutorials there (if you build a coin let me know, I'd love to see it).