While the death grip of the bear market might have collapsed or constrained several cryptocurrency projects, 2018 might be better remembered as the year of ‘buidl’ and ‘spedn’ – where cryptocurrency enthusiasts turned their attention to not only building in-roads for ordinary people to use cryptocurrency, but further used blockchain technology to build new and decentralized platforms together.
While the fate of thousands of cryptocurrency projects (and their utility) might be in question, let’s look to take a view into the future and explore which projects might go on to find real-world use cases into the future.
Ethereum might be well-known to traders and speculative investors thanks to the fact that it is the second most valuable cryptocurrency by market cap, but the decentralized project’s real value and utility may lie in the continued development of decentralized applications (dApps).
Ethereum uses blockchain technology to replace ‘third party’ internet vendors that store data or keep track of complex financial instruments. Through Ethereum, servers and clouds are replaced by ‘nodes’ which weave together to serve as a decentralized ‘world computer’.
Ethereum replaces the need for a single server as a point of reference (which a server vendor might charge for) and instead provides a network of decentralized computers around the world through which information and requests can be run through. Ethereum aims to accommodate users around the world with control over their own data through a distributed computing platform wherein new projects could build services atop of the platform itself.
Why it might survive:
Ethereum, as a platform, poses an alternative to centralized services or monolithic empires (such as the likes of Google or Facebook) where smart contracts and other applications could be sufficiently decentralized to avoid hacking attempts, downtime, or collapse. While the argument that we have yet to see a truly unique dApp might hold some water at this point, some of the most successful dApps yet have in fact been gaming titles – the likes of CryptoKitties, for example, briefly became so popular that it caused congestion on Ethereum’s network.
Ethereum has further been adopted by a range of initiatives (both charitable and profitable) to not only provide to refugees in Syria, for example, but further to develop specialized smart contracts for a variety of industries.
Perhaps most notably, some may argue that Ethereum’s true killer app is the Initial Coin Offering – where many present cryptocurrency projects have had their humble (or not-so-humble) beginnings.
Basic Attention Token
While many of the internet’s most popular content creators might derive an income from the platform on which they staked their name (such as YouTube), there’s one cryptocurrency project that’s out there to change that.
Basic Attention Token aims to decentralized digital advertising by ridding middlemen of their monopoly – for example, while a popular content creator might be able to earn revenue through digital adverts or other forms of content marketing, large-scale social networks can take immense cuts out of a creator’s profits – and furthermore, the rules that outline this arrangement, as well as the scope of guidelines that allow content creators to operate, change over time.
Basic Attention Token, as an Ethereum-based ecosystem, carves out a decentralized marketplace where an advertiser can send an advertisement to users on the network paying with a token, whereafter a user can watch the advertisement and subsequently take a nifty portion of the token payment as a reward.
The platform is furthermore remarkable for its integration with Brave, the popular ad-blocking browser which was created by Mozilla co-founder Brendan Eich.
Why it might survive:
Earlier this year, a new integration on Brave allowed users to wire cryptocurrency donations to users on certain social networking sites, such as YouTube, despite previously supporting domain-level projects. The move was welcomed at a time when YouTube’s recent change in monetization policy rendered many high-profile content creators unable to effectively monetize (and earn revenue) their videos.
On a broader scale, monetization networks and centralized platforms have created a risky marketplace for content creators themselves – while networks such as Instagram, YouTube, and Facebook have largely made continued successes despite controversy, we need only look to the collapse of networks such as Vine to understand that these paradigms can change.
Basic Attention Token could feasibly enable a situation where content creators or marketers can direct content across several mediums and earn revenue in a universal cryptocurrency, and can be free of (or can at least mitigate) changing monetization policies and network censorship.
Golem is an Ethereum-based project that aims to create a global, open-sourced, and decentralized supercomputer. If one follows the idea that AirBnb uses a ‘latent’ economy of available homes for let or Uber uses ‘regular’ cars or drivers as taxis, Golem is a decentralized project aiming to connect latent processing power (found in most modern computers) as a decentralized supercomputer, where market actors can let portions of their CPU, and ‘requestors’ can rent that spare processing power to accomplish various tasks that might not be within the ambit of their personal machine.
As described by former Golem spokesperson Eddy Azar, Golem’s vision is to “replace the huge data centers that currently power the internet, and become the decentralized (and therefore non-monopolized and more secure) computing power behind the entire internet and just about everything on it”.
Golem officially began its lease on life in November of 2016, wherein the initiative successfully raised 820,000 ETH in just 29 minutes. As of today, Golem now works through a software client that bridges ‘providers’ (virtual lessees of spare computing power) with the needs of ‘requestors’ (individuals seeking to rent computing power).
While the concept might sound vaguely similar to Ethereum, Golem is not a platform for decentralized smart contracts or decentralized apps – but is rather an economy of processing power. For example, rather than see one computer issued with the full burden of a requestor, Golem distributes various small tasks across its network which, when combined, facilitate a full request.
Why it might survive:
While centralized entities, there has been a global shift (particular in first world markets) to ultra-lightweight and internet-reliant PCs; namely, the likes of Google’s Chromebooks or Microsoft’s Windows 10s-powered laptops might come to mind. As processing power becomes more scarce, and such networks become more popular, we may yet see a changing landscape in which more expensive processors (or other hardware equipment) become tethered to high-end products, while ‘lighter’ or more affordable devices begin to rely on cloud processing centers to fulfill more stringent requests.
With that in mind, projects such as Golem might be well placed to succeed in an economy where processing power can serve as a decentralized economy and a strong alternative to ‘centralized’ actors. Google, for example, has recently begun to experiment with the potential for game-streaming to Chromebook models in Project Stream, where gamers can play a title locally and rely on another processing machine for high-intensity tasks over-the-web.
What are your thoughts?
What decentralized projects do you feel will survive into the future, or offer real-world utility that we simply can’t ignore? Let’s talk in the comments below.