Is blockchain synonymous with bitcoin? Is it illegal? Is it something done by gnomes on a boat offshore? You couldn't be faulted for wondering these things and more., and for asking what government is doing with this stuff in any of the aforementioned is true. Thankfully, our friends at the National Institute for Standards and Technology have put together a "Blockchain Technology Overview" to dispel the miasma of doubt. ANd they set the stage quite nicely:
"Because there are countless news articles and videos describing the “magic” of the blockchain, this paper aims to describe the method behind the magic (i.e., how a blockchain system works). Arthur C. Clarke once wrote, “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic” . Clarke’s statement is a perfect representation for the emerging use cases for blockchain technology. There is a high level of hype around the use of blockchains, yet the technology is not well understood. It is not magical; it will not solve all problems. As with all new technology, there is a tendency to want to apply it to every sector in every way imaginable. This document attempts bring a high-level understanding of the technology so that it can be applied effectively."