I first got into exploring blockchain/smart contract dapps several years ago after learning about Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies. Bitcoin was a good start, but I felt that there were a lot more interesting use cases with Ethereum and programmable money and to me they seemed like a huge leap forward from “digital gold”. I found that Bitcoin doesn’t really make a good currency (more about stablecoins in subsequent posts), and I don’t consider myself a gold investor either nor a speculator. I wanted to be able to do more with blockchains other than trading, such as earning yield for example. I am much more interested in the type of projects that are being built on blockchains that were designed for more than speculation. So I decided to explore beyond Bitcoin, and started learning ethereum. I found that eth had a lot of potential, but wasn’t quite ready for mainstream adoption.
I never really believed in layer 2’s, for horizontally scaling Bitcoin or Ethereum for that matter. I prefer the vision of multiple layer 1’s and layer 0’s that connect them together. This is the approach that Cosmos apps and IBC, Dotsama parachains and XCM, or Avalanche sub-nets have taken. Multi-chain smart contracts a la Moonbeam or Astar takes this even further (see below). The current bridging technology is not quite there yet, but it is evolving rapidly. We will get into more detail in future posts.
Blockchain smart contracts
I found that the best place for me to start my journey was learning about Ethereum since they introduced Solidity smart contracts (Gavin Wood who is now at Polkadot). It was a good proof of concept and it kind of worked, although there were a lot of issues to resolve. Most early dapps were too slow, expensive, unreliable and unsecure to use. Meanwhile then other chains were being built with different approaches learning from the early problems. The next generation of chains (Web3 tech) proved to be much more scalable and much less expensive, and were more practical for more use cases (like payments or social media for example). The highly touted eth “merge” didn’t do anything to improve most of the weaknesses, but it did become more “green”. All it did was change the consensus process (POW to POS), and will be years before vertical scaling technologies like sharding will be implemented. I explored various Defi dapp projects first on Eth, and then other EVM chains like BSC, Polygon, Avalance etc. Then I started learning more about non-EVM chains like Solana, Cosmos, Dotsama (Polkadot and Kusama), and Near which already had better scaling implemented. Each ecosystem has its own advantages and disadvantages, but they were all evolving and getting better. Some faster than others. Same for the various dapp projects built on top of them. Both the blockchain platforms and dapps built on top were starting to improve and mature.
The next phase of development will also allow for interoperability and multi-chain capabilities. My vision is a cyber world where we don’t have to worry about all the details that are going on behind behind the scenes, much like the experience with web2 apps which are generally more usable. I see a future with specialized app chains that are a really good fit for a particular purpose, and rely on other chains for features that they lack or things like shared security for smaller chains. I don’t think The future is really about competition, and who will be the ultimate “winner”. I believe that we will end up using the best chain for the particular task at hand. Ex. what is the best solution for my problem and what tools should I use? The platforms that collaborate and form strategic partnerships will have the advantage, since its impossible to be “all things to all people”, and satisfy everyone. There will be many different use cases with different requirements. Generalized chains can not be optimized for every use case. Further reading ( a little more technical) :
Decentralized Social media
I also believe that there are lots of other really good uses of blockchain technology other than Defi. Truly Decentralized Finance really requires a lot of improvements in security, reliability, privacy and ease of use.
Another good fit for this technology is Web3 social media which has a lot of advantages over the current web2 apps. The article below goes into more detail about the advantages. In future posts I start talking about some good examples. There are several new platforms and primitives starting to emerge in various stages of production. There are no clear leaders yet but they are rapidly improving and have a lot of potential for good market fit. One example is mirror.xyz which I am currently using “as we speak” to write this blog post.
As I do more testing and evaluations, I plan to write about my experience, and I hope that you find it useful. I would also like to get feedback and comments about what you think, and your experiences with the same or other projects.