Bitcoin has inspired a widespread global community that cares about decentralizing trust. Blockchain is the underlying technology, but in addition to the tech, the community is ready to believe in and embrace non-centralized and censorship-resistant applications. I believe that today the timing is right for this movement to extend beyond money and towards other use cases. Decentralization, long-term, will change the applications we will use on a daily basis.
Every major tech cycle had sometime major fundamental characteristic change in the platform. As we’ve seen with the transition from web 1.0 in the 90s, to web 2.0 in the 00s, to mobile in the 10s, every change in a platform’s fundamental characteristics enabled the birth of disruptive mainstream use cases. For web 3.0, that characteristic is decentralization and the cost of trust in our applications we use on a daily basis.
Here’s a table I made that summarizes all major tech cycles for consumer applications:
I believe we are right at the brink of a totally new cycle in applications, which is decentralized and censorship-resistant apps. It’s definitely a challenge to try and hypothesize what the next Web 3.0 use cases will be. As Olaf Carlson-Wee from Polychain explained, “it’s like in the early internet, it was hard to imagine facebook, so I think we’re going to be comparing, or port rather, web 2 things on to this web 3 or decentralize user-owned web, but that overtime, we’ll find those web 3 native applications, those are the things I really care about even though right now they do sound somewhat sci-fi and I think it’s unclear what they look like.”
In addition, Olaf emphasized that the use cases that will be disruptive in web 3.0 are the ones that simply have not been possible before the infrastructure towards a user-owned web: “to me a lot of what I’m interested in are the applications that will be natively enabled by this technology, not improvement in payment speed or store of wealth, but like the internet, the most breakthrough things were not possible in an analog world, so Facebook, say, there was not an offline version of Facebook, so what I’m looking for and am excited about are those use cases enabled by blockchain technology.”
If I had to guess, here are some dapp use cases I could predict that may benefit from a user-owned web:
- Censorship-resistant publishing & content
- Censorship-resistant social media
- Decentralized marketplaces
- Decentralized money and transfer of value
One of the main reasons we haven’t seen enough dapp interest and developer adoption yet is the infrastructure, I believe, is not ready yet. I’ve put most of my attention on predicting what the dev stack will be for this next-generation of app use cases. I’ve narrowed it down to the following pieces:
I would love to see more creative dapp ideas to be hacked together. I don’t think every single dapp needs a multimillion dollar ICO. Dapps can be built lean and smart product teams can get them to market quickly. Here are a few ideas on how we can inspire more teams to build dapps:
- ICOs can create ecosystem funds to invest in dapps that build with its protocol
- We could see more ICOs for dapps, not just protocol ICOs
- We could see totally hobbyist developers hack together dapps
- Dapps may be able to extract usage fees and make it profitable for developers
- Schools, universities and other educational resources should start teaching development on new decentralized protocols
In May 2017, when bitcoin was around $1.7k, journalist Henry Blodget said Bitcoin “is the perfect asset for a speculative bubble.” The low float of cryptocurrencies, and relatively much higher turnover compared to traditional equities, makes crypto a much more volatile asset, as Dan Moorehead recently explained on Bloomberg. Crypto is a more “hype-driven” market, and addition to the small float, makes it a lot easier to see huge booms and pull backs. It’s important to observe that the secondary market and trading characteristics of bitcoin is the same for all protocol tokens. If the web 3.0 dev stack protocols get real dapp adoption, and we see real dapps responsible for transactions on the web 3.0 protocols, they could potentially be some of the highest returning investment opportunities available to us today, and returning in the next 5–10 years.