I have noticed over time that while there are a lot of great articles on Ethereum, few are geared towards individuals who are not software developers. This is especially unfortunate as more and more people are investing in Bitcoin and Ethereum, without necessarily realizing what it is they are really buying. Sadly, in the Ethereum world, where ICOs are popping up every week now, this has led to a lot of people losing their investments or being scammed by projects that are not technically possible or are very impractical for blockchain technology.
Storing or changing data on the Ethereum blockchain costs ETH, but it is a one time cost. Retrieving the data is free, which is great for static content on web pages, like images. When a website hosts an image on the Ethereum blockchain, users can retrieve that image by pointing to its . Or rather, the website administrator would do this, and you as the user would have no idea. You would load the image from the Ethereum network in your browser without realizing it. It would look and act like a normal website, but underneath is a series of extremely complicated mathematics (aptly called mathemagic by the Ethereum Foundation) that make the most widely used encryption today look like crayon drawings.
So what about dynamic content? This is where smart contracts come in. Developers can use smart contracts to store memory or to “do something” on the blockchain. For example, imagine a (pretty awesome) website where users input a number, and the website computes and returns double that number. In this case, the website would send the submitted number to a smart contract that would store it in memory, then perform the doubling calculation and finally output the result. If the user wants to recall a calculation they made previously, or submits the same number as before, this can be done without needing to re-submit to the contract. All transaction history is permanently stored within the blockchain. You only have to calculate or “do the thing” once, and never have to waste precious CPU time again. You can simply recall the previous transaction and return its stored result. As more transactions are appended to the blockchain, computation becomes more efficient.
Never before with computing has something like this even been possible. Ethereum has many potential use-cases and I believe it will completely disrupt the cloud computing and storage industry. With Ethereum, I have been able to make websites that would normally cost over $100 a month to host in the cloud with just a single one-time cost of $0.12 to host static content and $7 a month in gas for the rest. It’s like watching the rise of the internet all over again.
There’s a ton of information out there on Ethereum, but most of it isn’t written for the 99% of people who aren’t programmers. I hope I was able to keep this post within the realm of the non-technical. If you have any questions, I would be happy to answer all you can throw at me (firstname.lastname@example.org), or feel free to get in touch with the team.