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"Beyond Bitcoin: A Literature Review of Blockchain Technology." S. Prowse. S. Terzis. Department of Computer and Information Sciences, University of Strathclyde. 2017. Download PDF (BibTeX) ILS

Blockchain, the technology that underlies the first and most widely known cryptocurrency Bitcoin, is a shared digital ledger that records transactions occurring across a distributed or peer-to-peer network. However, despite its potential for domains outside of finance, much confusion still exists surrounding both the technology and its applications. The overarching aim of this extended literature review is to identify current and emerging application domains and their requirements for blockchain technology, including potential observed challenges.

The incorporation of both academic sources and 'grey' literature yield a diverse variety of results with applications found in the fields of finance, government, healthcare, and the sharing economy. The text does not intend to provide an overly technical perspective, but instead offers an accessible foundation in key terms and concepts relevant to discussions of blockchain technology and its applications. The role of the information professional as an advocate for the understanding of new technological advances is also considered. With misinformation rife surrounding the use of blockchain technologies, information professionals may serve as one trusted and reliable outlet for public discourse surrounding new media.

It was discovered that the current literature exhibits a number of core similarities in application purpose such as the movement of assets, new modalities of verification, proof of ownership and/or traceability, and interrelationships with the concept of identity. However, noticeably lacking are cohesive frameworks and methodologies to evaluate the success of both technical blockchain applications and their wider social applicability. Recommendations include the implementation of social education campaigns for widespread uptake and acceptance, the need for governments and social leaders to work cohesively when advocating for, and regulating, potentially disruptive technologies such as the blockchain, and the role of academic and journalistic media outlets in providing information that is concise and accessible to a wide audience.