The Ethereum network is a distributed consensus platform that allows users to write and compute smart contracts in a distributed manner. Smart contracts are essentially Turing complete programs that are available at a unique address of the network. When the smart contract is run as part of a transaction, the result and the current state of the contract are stored in a verifiable consensus that is agreed upon by the entire network of nodes.
When a user wants to run a smart contract on some desired inputs, they provide currency known as ETH with their command. This currency is allocated to a specific set of nodes that contribute to adding the transaction to the distributed consensus.
If the smart contract involves moving monetary amounts to different individuals in the network then this is also recorded in the consensus. As such, this consensus represents the current state of the network along with exactly how much Ethereum currency is owned by each individual.
All transactions on the network are stored in 'blocks' that make up the entire consensus. In brief, the consensus is a single sequence of blocks with increasing unique identifiers that represent all the transactions in the entire history of the Ethereum platform.
Each block also has a unique hash identifier (a long hexadecimal string like
0xd4e56740f876aef8c010b86a40d5f56745a118d0906a34e69aec8c0db1cb8fa3q) that can
be used to retrieve and inspect the block. Each transaction within a block also
has a unique hash identifier that can be used to retrieve individual
transactions. When any new transaction is uploaded to the consensus as part of a
block, this update is sent around the entire network and anyone can read the
nature of the transaction that took place. This makes the entire state of the
Reading & writing content
To read content, a user needs to interact with a working Ethereum node. Such nodes can be run locally on a user's machine as daemons (such as: ). When the user access to such a node it can use the official JSONRPC API to send queries to the network, and learn about specific aspects of the consensus.
Writing content is just as simple, and can be done using a . However, writing transactions also requires supplying a certain amount of currency along with a secret key for an that holds that currency. If this can be provided, then the write transaction is sent to the wider network and added to the consensus.