Blockstack and the Emergence of the Decentralized web

Blockstack, a New York-based company aiming to build a platform that powers decentralized applications, recently raise $5.3 million from Union Square Ventures. The funding round represents a strong validation for the emergent market of decentralized web applications.

I’ve been following Blockstack for a while and I continue to be impressed by their bullish vision based on building the infrastructure for a new type of internet. Blockstack relies on blockchain technologies as the core element of its platforms. Even though there are many blockchain application developer platforms in the market, Blockstack seems to be laser-focused on assembling the right infrastructure building blocks for the implementation of decentralized web applications. In that sense, Blockstack enables capabilities such as storage, naming resolution, identity management which are foundational pieces of web applications. The latest release [0.14.0] includes major enhancements including the new Atlas network that improves the reliability of the core store infrastructure compared to previous versions based on distributed hash tables(DHTs).

Learning from the Internet 1.0

To understand Blockstack’s vision or the general ideas behind the decentralized web, it might help to go back to the early days of the Internet. During those days, the efforts were not centered on building social networks like Facebook, dating applications like Tinder or messaging platforms like Snapchat. Instead, the efforts were focused on building the core Snap chat of the internet and powering the first generation of application that leverage that infrastructure to improve user’s lives. Following that analogy, we can start envisioning the building blocks that are going to be needed to power the decentralized web using platforms such as Blockstack. Here is a quick list:

— Networking (Web 1.0 equivalent: Cisco): Building the basic networking protocols in areas such as routing, multi-casting, traffic optimization, etc will be essential to power decentralized web applications.

— Browser (Web 1.0 equivalent: NetScape): The decentralized web is likely to require a new type of web browser optimized to work with content distributed in a federated network.

— Search (Web 1.0 equivalent: Google): In the decentralized web, search will be likely to remain the prevalent for discovering and accessing data.

— Storage (Web 1.0 equivalent: Oracle): Storage models for files, structured and semi-structured data and other assets required by decentralized web applications is also a MUST have capability for decentralized web applications.

— Identity: Identity wasn’t a big component of the web 1.0 generation but it has become a foundational piece of the internet and is definitely relevant to decentralized web applications.

— Content Distribution (Web 1.0 equivalent: Akamai): Content distribution and routing is a hard problem to solve but an essential component of decentralized web solutions.

— Standard Based and Infrastructure Agnostic: I saved the most obvious for last :) A decentralized web infrastructure MUST be able to work across different blockchain networks without introducing heavy dependencies on any particular infrastructures. Even though platforms such as Blockstack are still heavy reliant on the Bitcoin blockchain, its architecture provides a step on the right direction.

— Killer Consumer Apps (Web 1.0 equivalent: Amazon.com, eBay): To increase the mainstream adoption of the decentralized web, the industry will need to produce killer consumer applications that drive mainstream users onto this new type of infrastructure. Ecommerce seems to be the obvious market to tackle in this area. a decentralized Amazon.com or eBay (ex: OpenBazaar) makes a lot of sense for the decentralized web. s

Written by

CEO of IntoTheBlock, Chief Scientist at Invector Labs, Guest lecturer at Columbia University, Angel Investor, Author, Speaker.

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