What is Polkadot? A Beginner's Guide

What is Polkadot? A Beginner's Guide
Photo by Sofiya Levchenko / Unsplash


Polkadot is a blockchain protocol that connects independent blockchains, allowing them to communicate with each other and share data. This allows for the creation of a more interoperable and scalable web3 ecosystem.

In this article, I will discuss what Polkadot is, the problems it aims to solve, who created it, and why it is so highly rated. I will also discuss the Kusama network, which is a canary network for Polkadot.

What is Layer 1 in the Crypto and Blockchain Space?

In the blockchain space, Layer 1 refers to the underlying blockchain protocol. This is the foundation upon which all other applications and services are built.

There are many different Layer 1 blockchains, each with its own strengths and weaknesses. Some of the most popular Layer 1 blockchains include Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Solana. This layer is the foundation on which everything else is built.

What is Polkadot?

Polkadot is a Layer 1 blockchain that was created by Gavin Wood, the co-founder of Ethereum. Polkadot is designed to be a more scalable and interoperable blockchain than other Layer 1 blockchains.

Polkadot achieves scalability by using a technique called sharding. Sharding divides the blockchain into smaller pieces, which allows it to process more transactions per second.

Polkadot achieves interoperability by using a technique called parachains. Parachains are independent blockchains that are connected to the Polkadot network. This allows parachains to communicate with each other and share data.

What Problems Does Polkadot Aim to Solve?

Polkadot sets out to address three key challenges faced by the blockchain industry: scalability, interoperability and security. Scalability is a common concern in the blockchain space, as traditional networks like Bitcoin and Ethereum face limitations in handling a high volume of transactions. Interoperability, on the other hand, refers to the ability of different blockchains to communicate with each other effectively. Blockchains are often vulnerable to attack. Polkadot solves this problem by using a number of security features, such as a unique consensus mechanism called nominated proof-of-stake.

Who Created Polkadot?

Polkadot is the brainchild of Dr. Gavin Wood, one of the co-founders of Ethereum and a prominent figure in the blockchain world. His vision was to create an ecosystem that fosters blockchain innovation and eliminates the siloed approach often seen in the industry. Wood is also the founder of Parity Technologies, the company that is responsible for developing Polkadot. Parity Technologies is a team of experienced engineers who are committed to building secure and scalable blockchain technology.

What is Kusama?

Kusama is a canary network for Polkadot. This means that Kusama is a testnet for Polkadot, where new features and updates can be tested before they are released on the main Polkadot network.

Kusama is named after the Japanese word for "unpolished gem." This name reflects the fact that Kusama is a work in progress. However, Kusama is also a valuable testing ground for Polkadot, and it has helped to ensure that Polkadot is a secure and reliable network.

Photo by Noah Buscher / Unsplash

Why is the Polkadot Ecosystem So Highly Rated?

The Polkadot ecosystem has garnered widespread acclaim for several reasons:

  1. Scalability: Polkadot's unique design allows it to process multiple transactions in parallel, boosting scalability and overall network performance.
  2. Interoperability: By enabling cross-chain communication, Polkadot fosters collaboration between different blockchains, promoting innovation and efficiency.
  3. Governance: Polkadot's governance model empowers token holders to participate in decision-making, ensuring a more democratic and community-driven approach to network upgrades.
  4. Security: Polkadot employs a robust, shared security model that provides a high level of protection against potential attacks.
  5. Substrate Framework: The Substrate framework, developed by Parity Technologies (founded by Gavin Wood), enables developers to build custom blockchains and dApps on top of Polkadot with ease.

What's on the Polkadot Blockchain or Ecosystem?

The Polkadot ecosystem is a bustling hub of diverse projects and applications. Some notable elements include:

  1. Parachains: These are individual blockchains that connect to Polkadot's relay chain, allowing them to benefit from its security and cross-chain capabilities.
  2. Bridges: Bridges facilitate communication between Polkadot and other blockchain networks, expanding the scope of cross-chain interactions.
  3. DOT Token: The DOT token is the native cryptocurrency of the Polkadot network. It plays a vital role in governance, staking, and bonding parachains.
  4. Polkadot Decentralised Applications (dApps): Various dApps are being built on Polkadot, ranging from DeFi platforms to NFT marketplaces and more.

The Polkadot blockchain is home to a number of different projects, including:

  • Substrate: Substrate is a blockchain framework that can be used to create new blockchains. Substrate is used to create the Polkadot network itself, as well as a number of other parachains.
  • Interlay: Interlay is a project that is building a trustless Bitcoin bridge on Polkadot. This will allow users to transfer Bitcoin to and from the Polkadot network without having to trust a third party.
  • Acala: Acala is a decentralized finance (DeFi) platform that is built on Polkadot. Acala offers a number of DeFi services, such as lending, borrowing, and staking.
  • Moonbeam: Moonbeam is an Ethereum-compatible parachain on Polkadot. This means that Moonbeam can host Ethereum-based applications and services.

These are just a few of the many projects that are built on Polkadot. The Polkadot ecosystem is constantly growing and evolving, and it is an exciting time to be involved in the project.

The DOT token

The DOT token is the native cryptocurrency of the Polkadot network. It is used to secure the network, participate in governance, and pay for transaction fees. DOT holders can earn rewards by staking their tokens and participating in governance.

Here are some of the key benefits of holding DOT tokens:

  • You can stake your tokens to earn rewards.
  • You can participate in governance and vote on important decisions that affect the future of the Polkadot network.
  • You can use DOT tokens to pay for transaction fees on the Polkadot network.
A gold DOT coin is alone on a dark surface
Photo by Traxer / Unsplash


This innovative project has its sights set on overcoming scalability and interoperability challenges, unlocking the potential for seamless blockchain collaboration. With Dr. Gavin Wood at the helm and Kusama acting as the proving ground, Polkadot is driving the future of blockchain technology. So, whether you're an investor, developer, or just curious about the crypto space, keep an eye on Polkadot, as it continues to push the boundaries of what's possible in the blockchain world.

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Please note that the information presented in this review is for informational purposes only and should not be considered as investment advice. It is important to understand that cryptocurrency assets are known for their high market volatility, and engaging in buying, selling, or trading them involves substantial financial risks. It is recommended to exercise caution and conduct thorough research before making any investment decisions. The responsibility for any financial consequences resulting from your actions lies solely with you.

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