Conversations with a Junior Blockchain Developer Part V

A: We meet again!
B: Yes :)

A: Readers really love your content but sometimes you really go deep.
B: I tend to think that I rather stay on the surface :)

A: Lol, let’s get right into it, you mentioned once that you were working for web2 company. What are some main differences that you see between web2 and web3, is there something also to watch out for?

B: Web3 is all about owning content and no tracking, in some web2 companies this is already the case that due to GDPR actually there is not much you can store about the user. Some companies of course do not adhere to laws. Web3 takes GDPR in this sense to the next level, can’t do store private data > won’t store private data.

Be careful though, we are still in transitory period, some websites which are made for web3 are actually web 2.5 or even in some cases web 2.1 / 2.2, some of it is acceptable due to transition.

A: Why is that?
B: If you have still normal login without using login via wallet then you are in web2 world, website collects your email, links to your other accounts, effectively building your profile. Intentions of web 2.2 websites maybe noble now but it is centralised.

A: There are no pure smart contract websites with wallet login?
B: Oh they are, for a long time, I just mean it is still possible to find web 2.2 experiences that masquerade themselves as web 3.0. For full login via wallet web experience blockchains do no scale well enough yet, costs would be massive of adoption.

A: Yes Ethereum has login via wallet and Cardano anything?
B: Yes Cardano has two solutions currently and we will see which one will be formalised as part of CIP (Cardano Improvement Proposal — https://cips.cardano.org/), one of them is NFT Key another one is Identity by Clark Alesna.

Web Login on Cardano

A: WOW, pretty cool, I can login via wallet… dope…
B: Yeah, there are a few nice use cases possible… imagine that you donate on a website or pay for content on website in order to see something or so called NFT as access token, website detects that you have a subscription in your wallet valid from certain date until certain date and gives you access to the premium content. Imagine browsing a website on which you normally see advertising but you wouldn’t because you have … advertising free experience as NFT token as authorisation token.

A: Pretty cool.
B: I know.. but fees can still be high, (e.g. on Ethereum) and scalability is still not there, right now ideas are being tried out, technology foundation is being laid out on smaller user scale and initial experiences start already working. Ethereum also has a similar web login but it is expensive, not affordable I would say for retail users.

A: Wait Solana already has cheap transactions and 65.000 TPS…
B: Solana is a controversial project, they achieve this throughput at the cost of decentralisation, their tokenomics (ca 50% of supply in hands of VCs) is also very controversial for those that want to invest, for users of course it doesn’t matter. There is a heavy VC capital concentration there. We tend to think of Solana as PayPal 2.0, it is a VC play. Ethereum and Cardano have aspirations for complete (Cardano) or almost complete decentralisation (Ethereum).

A: Any other interesting things from web2 companies and your experience you can tell us?
B: Sure I can, what surprised me is that there is quite a lot of very talented developers and architects which I know that don’t really care about web3 or blockchains, either they think it is a fad or a scam.

A: Examples?
B: Some don’t feel it, some trust government to take care of everything and web2 companies to fill the rest of gaps, some see things like DogeCoin, Shiba and are speechless — WTF?, some question the whole pay to send money model (fee markets), some really don’t believe that “code is law” and last but not least some trust government so much that actually they would go even the other way around, they would work towards modifying cryptography in such a way that there is a backdoor with people with special access (governments).

A: Who wants to modify cryptography, now you got me really scared and thinking?
B: There has been a proposal from Martin Kleppman (Martin Kleppmann, really amazing researcher from the UK), it is justified as protection for children, etc. When it comes to technology, research on CRDTs (reader: Conflict-Free-Data-Structures), I have nothing but respect for Martin.

A: Modifying cryptography, that’s insane. Wait what, they don’t like auctions as well? Lol, L1 blockchains are scarce resources, you need to have auction and fee models.
B: Well, I spoke with one of them and he doesn’t seem to think this, since in Internet infrastructure nobody has to pay more to to have somehow prioritised traffic (QoS). It is ubiquitous. In major cryptocurrencies, as usage of network is high, you pay higher… not very accessible and egalitarian.

A: You know very well that blockchains do not scale well yet, right and also I can see some idealism here, there is simply commercial reality… in addition you know that there are some really legitimate people in blockchain industry that are building tech
B: Sure, I am just telling you why they are not joining. Regarding “code is law”, I remember one architect I met laughing it off as a good joke. Now he works for a bank, he knows that code is not law, let’s not kid ourselves, “code is law” is some idealistic approach.

A: I was digging a bit and I saw that Cardano is actually written in Haskell, doesn’t it concern you that it is effectively centralised / federated because it will not be possible to change company developing core Cardano infra due to the fact that there are not many Haskell Developers?
B: No, it doesn’t but I can understand why somebody would be concerned. First of all, if Cardano becomes really popular, there is enough of Haskell or functional programmers in the world to continue developing it. Second of all, all web2 projects that I ever took part in that failed big time not because of technology, they always failed due to business reasons, e.g. lack of customers or too expensive product. Third of all, if this really becomes issue one could rewrite Cardano core infra into Rust or Golang (in parallel). This is the least of my concerns right now I would say.

A: What’s the biggest concern there you have?
B: Decentralised governance, this one is super tricky. If Cardano gets it right it will be awesome, if not, things won’t be pretty.

A: Project Voltaire is still far away right?
B: Yes but Cardano has already project Catalyst:

It is not usual to find that sometimes very important projects are not funded because voters don’t see a bigger picture and don’t fully understand priorities. Project Catalyst tries to piggy back on the idea of Wisdom Of the the Crowds but it is still very early days, project is in alpha stage. More and more funding is being released but there are many inefficiencies there.

A: Examples?
B: For instance, some folks complain about Haskell but Reach Language (https://cardano.ideascale.com/a/dtd/Reach-POC-on-Cardano/368725-48088), which turns Haskell into JavaScript for Cardano wasn’t funded in recent funding round… and then voters didn’t even chose only 200k USD for Open Source Development Ecosystem challenge as part of Fund 8, something that sends shivers down my spine. Great Web3 ecosystem of libraries for developers is very important. Cardano needs great wallets, network libraries, new programming languages instead of only Plutus and many other things. If you look at the list compiled by Cardano Fans, a lot still is to be desired:

A: Ok, but as you mentioned it is alpha…
B: Yes but Cardano cannot afford major screw ups now, competition is fierce

A: Do you see other challenges?
B: Yeah, like Ledger Live integration, Cardano Foundation was supposed to do this but they didn’t and zero communication why. It’s spooky a bit. Perhaps there are legitimate reasons but communication is the key.

A: Many people also question the whole Africa strategy, doesn’t seem like there is much buy in from VCs, right?
B: Yes, VCs are very impatient because their clients are impatient, they want instant yearly yield and yield yield yield, with things like Africa investments go into 5 years, 10 years or even possibly decades. There is however tremendous potential in African continent because there are many capital inefficiencies and lack to basic financial services, e.g. if people have no connectivity to Internet, no identity, how can they have credit score? If companies from the US do not trust African governments, isn’t blockchain exactly the right way for money flow to happen? Mantra: can’t do evil > won’t do evil.

A: Yes it is, strange, there is a lot of potential on there I think.
B: Absolutely, for banks and many institutions it makes absolutely no sense to go there because value which can be extracted in the short period from people for them is way too low to justify investment

A: Over time it can change and also numbers add up right…
B: Exactly but for this you need piggy back on economy of scale and you need to have cheap infrastructure

A: WOW, thanks, today a few business topics as well I can see.
B: Yup, why not, it’s not that world should be centered around technology, it should be centered around people and luckily collectively over time we are improving.

A: Thanks, cool Steven Pinker, I like him a lot.
B: Me too, one of my favourites as well.

A: See ya next time!
B: Bye!

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