The Value of Uncensorable Technology in an Age of Censorship

Governments and corporations have deployed censorship to limit speech and deprive people of vital communication channels. The ruling elite are trying to shush activists and freethinkers, but they are losing control and lashing out in frustration. This is why the emergence of decentralized tools and uncensorable money is more vital than ever.

Also read: Bitcoin After Death: The Perils of Sharing One’s Fortune

Corporate Censorship and the Loss of Control

Facebook recently engaged in a massive campaign to purge a plethora of freedom-oriented pages from their platform. They removed pages such as The Anti-Media, Free Thought Project, V is for Voluntary, and Rachel Blevins. The move came after Facebook, Twitter, and Youtube joined forces to eject Alex Jones from their respective applications back in August.

The social media titans have become zealous in their mission to purge their platforms of anti-government messages and to stifle liberty. Twitter is now known as a company that embraces censorship, and Youtube has routinely demonetized pages that disseminate information that goes against their milquetoast company ethos.

It is unsurprising, though, that these social media giants have taken this route. They are centralized social media companies in an age of decentralization; they are outdated and ready to be displaced by scrappy upstarts.

People are also waking up to the depredations of government and corporate cronyism. They are beginning to acknowledge the broken nature of partisan politics. This mass enlightenment has led to an explosion of tools and technologies with the goal of subverting the system.

Emergent Uncensorable Technologies

Developers and entrepreneurs are fashioning tools with the purpose of freeing people and opening new information channels. They are also allowing value to be expressed in peer-to-peer ways that cannot be intercepted by State agents. There are several major technologies blossoming, but the most significant is uncensorable cryptocurrency.

Cryptocurrency, especially bitcoin cash, allows for the transmission of value in an uncensorable fashion. This means anarchists can fund their projects without having to worry about their money getting frozen, seized, or stolen. Having uncensorable money like BCH is indispensable for helping activists achieve their goals. If they had to rely on the traditional methods of receiving donations and funding their projects, the Visa and Mastercard networks could shutter their pipeline at anytime at the behest of the government. There are other options for uncensorable money as well, including nonero, horizen, and others. These monetary technologies aren’t social media platforms per se, but money is a form of communication and having uncensorable money is indispensable to thwarting censorship.

Along with bitcoin cash, uncensorable social media and messaging platforms have arisen. In Jamie Redman’s article Facebook and Twitter Beware — Censorship-Resistant Social Media Is Here, he mentions several applications that have actually been built on Bitcoin Cash, including, which is a decentralized version of Twitter. Platforms like Steemit have also emerged over the last couple of years. Steemit is a blogging platform that allows people to post content without having to worry about a centralized authority deleting their content. Users can earn cryptocurrency rewards for their posts, rather than having all the value they create siphoned by the platform and its founders. Other nascent decentralized media tools include Minds and Bittube.

The Decentralized Revolution is Currently a Bad User Experience

The problem with many of these decentralized social media technologies is they are still in their infancy. They are fresh out of the womb. This means they lack easy adoption. Their usability is limited and requires a degree of technological acumen. Their user interfaces are underdeveloped and sometimes suffer from technical problems. This makes the user experience suffer, causing people to leave the platforms.

The other problem is that the platforms have not experienced viral adoption as a result of the aforesaid issues. Established platforms such as Facebook and Youtube have an entrenched user base, many of whom have taken years to establish themselves. This means a system that is both user-friendly and prone to rapid growth will have to emerge in order to supplant these old applications.

The Technological Spring: The System Will Topple and Censorship Will be Mitigated

Nonetheless, these problems are mere technical issues that will be solved in time. These technologies will eventually prosper. The decline of the legacy systems is well underway; it is inevitable.

The maniacal drive to control people and contain their voice has led to the technological springtime we are now on the verge of witnessing.

New tools and technologies have cropped up not only to make human life more leisurely and simpler — they have emerged as a way to decentralize power. Iconoclasts and developers are building applications for philosophical purposes, to mitigate the effect of power on the rest of humanity. Their goal is to diminish the impact of violent hierarchies and to even the playing field.

In the long term, this will cause power structures to topple under the weight of truth. Decentralized technologies will erode the ability of centralized institutions to censor freethinkers who pontificate on liberty and anarchy. Without censorship to indoctrinate the masses, the system will begin to unravel and the power elite will no longer be able to run roughshod over the people. Humanity will then be able to move forward into the future with dignity and decency.

This is the value of uncensorable technology.

Do you think uncensorable social media platforms will gain traction? Let us know in the comments section below.

Images courtesy of Shutterstock.

OP-ed disclaimer: This is an Op-ed article. The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own. does not endorse nor support views, opinions or conclusions drawn in this post. is not responsible for or liable for any content, accuracy or quality within the Op-ed article. Readers should do their own due diligence before taking any actions related to the content. is not responsible, directly or indirectly, for any damage or loss caused or alleged to be caused by or in connection with the use of or reliance on any information in this Op-ed article.

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The DApp Revolution: Rebuilding Society Through Decentralization

The DApp Revolution: Rebuilding Society Through Decentralization

This article about the DApp Revolution was written by Heidi Yu. Heidi is a serial entrepreneur, influencer marketing evangelist, and AI enthusiast. Heidi founded, a decentralized app store that returns power to creators and makers. 

If you can dream it, a decentralized application can do itAccording to a report from UK market intelligence firm Juniper Research, there will be “a significant expansion” in the implementation of blockchain-based DApps within the next year. The adoption is happening fast, and it behooves us all to familiarize ourselves with this revolutionary technology. 

Also read: Under the Tent: A Look at the Latest Openbazaar Marketplace Software

Windsor Holden of Juniper predicted in Forbes earlier this year that users should be able to download dApps to their Androids or iPhones by the end of the year. So what are dApps and how do they work?

Blockchain Technology and DApps, in a Nutshell

In order to gain an understanding of dApps, it is first necessary to have some knowledge about blockchain technology, the technology that underlies decentralized applications. If you aren’t already an authority on the actual crypto backbone, here’s a lightning fast crash course.

The blockchain is simply an immutable ledger of records that is organized into “blocks” stored on a decentralized network of computers instead of in one location like on a conventional centralized database. Strategist and blockchain specialist William Mougayar explains this using Google Docs as a comparison: “With Google Docs (or Google Sheets), both parties have access to the same document at the same time, and the single version of that document is always visible to both of them. It is like a shared ledger, but it is a shared document. The distributed part comes into play when sharing involves a number of people.”

This type of system beats the traditional method of sending records back and forth, allowing only one person to view and edit the record at any given time. At first glance this may seem like a security risk, but most of us trust the blockchain because of its unmatched level of safety and security. In a blockchain-based system, there is a copy of the database on each computer in the decentralized network, and each transaction processed must be validated by every single computer in this database, or the transaction cannot be completed. Once a transaction is completed, the record of it can never be destroyed or altered.

Blockchain Applications and DApp Features

If we think of blockchain technology as comparable to an operating system, then decentralized applications are like the software that runs on that operating system. And so, keeping this analogy in mind, dApps are essentially applications that run on top of a decentralized blockchain database.

DApps generally possess several common features. First, they must be open-source, which means that any changes to a dApp are decided by a consensus of all of the users in the database. Second, they are decentralized, which means they are stored on easily accessible public blockchains. The third distinctive feature of a dApp is that it should generate cryptographic tokens to incentivize validators of the blockchain. The last common distinguishing characteristic of a dApp is that tokens are generated via a cryptographic algorithm, like a Proof of Work (PoW) in order to show proof of value.

The whitepaper for Ethereum, the granddaddy of blockchain platforms, designates three types of dApps; the first is a basic money exchanging dApp, the second involves a currency but adds at least one more function on top of this like a gaming capability, for example, and the third is for voting.

What Can DApps Do for Me?

For our purposes, let’s consider the second type of dApp described in the Ethereum whitepaper, the kind that has a currency but performs other functions as well. This is the type of dApp that will likely prove the most useful to average business folks who will drive the mass adoption of blockchain technology, due to its potential to provide everyday utility and convenience.

The original impulse behind the development of the world wide web was similar to that behind the development of blockchain technology, which was to provide a democratized and collaborative ecosystem for exchanging information and conducting business. This is a dream that has been long since been co-opted by large corporations like Google and Amazon. The advent of blockchain technology and dApps represents the wholesale revival of this dream.

How DApps Can Democratize Human Interaction

To illustrate how dApps could help promote the democratization of business and human interaction, suppose that you are the owner of a small clothing business, and you would like to hire people to make patterns and sew. You would also like to set up an online shop for your clothing line, and maybe even livestream fashion shows. Selling your goods through your online shop, doing your own bookkeeping, and livestreaming your line to customers through your dApps frees you from the burden of having to turn over a hefty portion of your profits to middlemen, like the typical selling platforms. This returns the power to small businesses and individual entrepreneurs allows anyone who dreams of working for him or herself to do so, without the worry of daunting overheads and payments to third parties.

There are literally dozens and dozens of companies coming online that embrace the power of decentralization and dApps. Examples include BOOSTO, a dApps store for social media influencers, and Vultur Social, a decentralized crowdfunding platform. Within a short period of time, anything you find in the centralized app store will be available via the blockchain. The revolution has begun.

The Return of the Family Dinner

The social impact of blockchain technology could be as far-reaching as its effects in the business world. More and more people rely on IoT (Internet of Things) technologies, which allow us to monitor our homes remotely and do things like switch appliances and alarms on or off with the aid of our smartphones. It’s not hard to imagine how much lost family and personal time could be restored to us as these technologies advance.

Envision making dinner while still at the office, using a meal service-driven refrigeration and cooking unit that you control from a decentralized blockchain app. Each part of the dinner, from the pasta to the vegetables could be cooked optimally in its own compartment according to your specialized instructions and ready as soon as you get home. Everyone meets at home after work, or chess club or lacrosse practice with dinner all ready to be served, leaving more time for families to relax and reconnect.

As we become more reliant on IoT technologies, it is important to make them as secure and dependable as possible. The drawback of these devices is that they rely on central databases that are vulnerable to hacking and data loss. The more safe and reliable these systems become, the more we will be able to implement them in our daily lives. With blockchain technology, running all of your IoT devices becomes secure, resistant to hacking and utterly dependable.

DApps could also transform other aspects of daily life, like promising trustworthy online interactions with friends you haven’t met yet. A dating dApp would largely eliminate the problem of “catfishing” so prevalent in the online world, since the trustworthy environment of the blockchain makes it very difficult to pretend to be someone you’re not. These days we meet as many if not more people online than we do in person. This added transparency allows us to do so with greater confidence, restoring some of our lost ability to truly connect as fellow humans.

Blockchain-based Checks-and-Balances

Within systems of governance from school boards to executive branches, potential leaks and security breaches can become a thing of the past. The use of blockchain-based email and other systems will secure communications and facilitate the enforcement of checks and balances, holding decision makers accountable.

There are almost as many ways that this technology could transform lives as there are people to drive its evolution and eventual adoption. DApps are appealing because they are adaptable to individual needs, and they level the playing field between up and comers and those that are already large and in charge. 

Do you think DApps will revolutionize the world? Is the technology viable and ready? How many DApp platforms are scams? 

Images courtesy of Shutterstock

OP-ed disclaimer: This is an Op-ed article. The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own. does not endorse nor support views, opinions or conclusions drawn in this post. is not responsible for or liable for any content, accuracy or quality within the Op-ed article. Readers should do their own due diligence before taking any actions related to the content. is not responsible, directly or indirectly, for any damage or loss caused or alleged to be caused by or in connection with the use of or reliance on any information in this Op-ed article.

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The Nakamoto Imperative: Why We Have to Build a Decentralist Culture


The following opinion piece on building a decentralist culture was written by Max Borders, director of Social Evolution and author of The Social Singularity

Some people have made good money buying and trading tokens. And on net, that’s a good thing. Whether you’re a trader or lucky hodler, you’re contributing to human progress.

But it’s not enough.

Also read: Korean Banks to Limit Services for Crypto Traders Without Real-Name Verification

Satoshi Nakamoto did not write the seminal 2009 white paper in order to get rich. He (or they) wanted to commit arson against the old order; a rigged game. Satoshi sought to “change our relationship to power,” as Brian Robertson might say.

In other words, it’s time we put mission before money.

The Great Open Source Project

In an unpublished chapter of Holacracy, Robertson writes:

Perhaps this then is the next step for our current societal governance. Perhaps it’s time to allow the centralized power of current governments to give way and dissolve, and allow new methods of achieving order to emerge from the ashes—ones that don’t have legislators and regulators to buy, or the power to make aggression legal or peaceful exchange illegal. Ones that are themselves subject to the forces of evolution and selection based on the value they add, rather than holding themselves outside of that process as monopoly providers.

We should remember that with every trade, investment, or new line of code, we are doing more than benefiting ourselves. We are participating in a great open source project that will forever change our relationship to power.

And we need to build culture around that fact.

The Core Tenets of Decentralization

The Social Singularity is my contribution to building a decentralist culture. I figured we needed to start with a manifesto. Whether in this book or some other works, we have to develop and propagate our ideas, whether through film, art, or our version of scripture. After all, culture, rules and tools work together in co-evolutionary fashion toward societal change.

“We shape our tools and then our tools shape us,” social theorist Marshall McLuhan is credited with saying. Likewise we we shape our rules and then our rules shape us. Cryptocurrencies rules and tools in one. And with mass adoption, new culture and new values follow. Humanity evolves.

But culture need not be a lagging indicator of technological change. We can continue to develop the decentralist culture along with some core tenets. Maybe something like:

  • Seek to maximize sovereignty for the individual;
  • Create protocols that allow for individuals peacefully to self-organize;
  • Innovate in parallel with power in order to “underthrow” it;
  • Develop virtuous, mutually beneficial ecosystems that extend to all humanity;
  • Find ways to assist the least advantaged in our society, without creating dependency;
  • Strive for mass adoption through simplicity, security, and low transaction fees;
  • Engage in collaborative relationships and healthy interdependencies;
  • Generate overwhelming value for the many, as opposed to taking advantage for the few;
  • Bring a healthy skepticism of experts and authorities;
  • Attack power’s weak joints and leverage points;

The Moribund Nature of Politics

Notice how there is nothing in all of this about politics per se. That’s because politics is dying. And decentralists are killing it.

Politics is a zero-sum system of dominance and hierarchy. And DOS — our democratic operating system — is mostly a spectacle designed to keep people pliant, willing to cling to a dying order.

Experimentation with new socio-economic systems is not political in the way we traditionally think of politics. It is about creating a market of governance models and communities, which will generate a condition in which the best systems win.

In this way decentralism is post-political, which is why you find former progressives and libertarians locking arms in solidarity around crypto.

Some, like writer/developer Justin Goro, say it’s post-ideological, because within any token economy (as well as within any ecosystem of tokens) ideology is an “engineering problem.” And solutions to engineering problems either succeed or fail.

Evolve or Die

All systems must therefore evolve or die. This Darwinian matrix doesn’t give a shit about your ideals. You have to criticize by creating.

That’s what we’re up to here. We’re not just making money. We’re realizing a mission fundamentally to change our relationship to power. And every single new line of code is an act of subversion.

Do you think we will build the fully decentralized system? What do you think abut the phrase “you have to criticize by creating”? Let us know in the comments section below.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock. 

OP-ed disclaimer: This is an Op-ed article. The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own. does not endorse nor support views, opinions or conclusions drawn in this post. is not responsible for or liable for any content, accuracy or quality within the Op-ed article. Readers should do their own due diligence before taking any actions related to the content. is not responsible, directly or indirectly, for any damage or loss caused or alleged to be caused by or in connection with the use of or reliance on any information in this Op-ed article.

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Peep the future of distributed ledgers with the leaders of Hyperledger, Parity Technologies and Tradeshift

As cryptocurrencies emerge from the speculative bloodletting of the past months, believers in the promise of distributed ledger technologies for business and consumer applications are casting about for what comes next.

On our stage at Disrupt San Francisco we’ll be welcoming some of the leading thinkers in how distributed ledgers can create an entirely new architecture for computing and new processes for almost every conceivable transaction framework.

For Brian Behlendorf, the executive director of Hyperledger, distributed ledger technologies represent a powerful path for the future of networked computing — no matter the underlying technology.  That’s why Behlendorf –through the Linux Foundation — is investing resources in ensuring that viable open source distributed ledger projects are supported and coming to market for any number of applications for businesses and consumers.

One of the leading lights of the internet revolution, Behlendorf’s career shaping the future of the networked world began in 1993 when he co-founded Organic Inc. — the first business dedicated to building commercial websites. Going on to become one of the foundational architects of the Apache http protocol, Behlendorf has served as the chief technology officer of the World Economic Forum and as an executive director for the technology investment fund, Mithril Capital.

Meanwhile, Parity Technologies is attempting to ensure that businesses don’t need to worry about the underlying technologies at all. Selling a suite of services that are all enabled by distributed ledger technologies and cryptographic computing, Jutta Steiner is giving businesses a way through the maze of competing protocols with a service that can enable the creation and adoption of distributed apps for businesses.

“We see it as a way for people to build blockchains that fulfill their particular needs,” Steiner told our own Samantha Stein at our Blockchain event earlier this year in Zug. “One of the challenges we’re addressing in this is to come up with a scalable framework.”

Before Parity, Steiner was responsible for security and partner integration within the Ethereum Foundation when the public blockchain first launched in 2015. Steiner also co-founded Project Provenance — a London based start-up that employs blockchain technology to make supply chains more transparent.

Supply chains are at the heart of Tradeshift’s offerings — and the company is hoping that distributed ledgers will be too. That’s why the company created Tradeshift Frontiers, an innovation lab and incubator that will focus on transforming supply chains through emerging technologies, such as distributed ledgers, artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things.

“The use cases we’re working through Frontiers cover a very wide variety of themes, including supply chain financing, asset liquidity, and supply chain transparency,” said Gert Sylvest, co-founder and GM of Tradeshift Frontiers, at the time. “There is so much more potential than just cryptocurrencies.”

That potential will be one of the things that Sylvest, Steiner, and Behlendorf discuss. We’ll hope you’ll be in the audience to listen.

Disrupt SF will take place in San Francisco’s Moscone Center West from September 5 to 7. The full agenda is here, and you can still buy tickets right here.

Decentralizing the Web: Handshake, Akash and the Quest for Censorship-Resistance

Decentralizing the Web: Handshake, Akash and the Quest for Censorship-Resistance

Censorship-resistance is a hot topic right now. On an internet where prominent voices are being silenced and deplatformed, and free speech services are being threatened with the same fate, decentralization is more urgent than ever. But for so long as centralized hosting and DNS services retain the power to ban dissenters, full decentralization will be impossible. Handshake and Akash Network are two new projects hoping to make a censorship-resistant web possible at last.

Also read: Report Finds Mining Activity and Bitcoin Exchange Development in North Korea

Decentralizing “The Last Mile” of the Web Is Hard

Decentralization is all relative. No matter how censorship-resistant your dapp, app, or platform, for so long as ISPs retain the power to block domains, and hosting providers to shutter offending websites, content will remain vulnerable. Achieving full decentralization calls for mastering ‘the last mile’ – the digital distance separating the creators and consumers of content. Handshake and Akash Network are two emerging systems that hope to help in that regard.

Decentralizing the Web: Handshake, Akash and the Quest for Censorship-ResistanceHandshake is a decentralized certificate authority that aims to become a peer-to-peer root DNS service. Its purpose is “not to replace the DNS protocol, but to replace the root zone file and the root servers with a public commons. The Handshake protocol maintains the root zone file in a decentralized manner, making the root zone uncensorable, permissionless, and free of gatekeepers.” Top level domains can be registered, bought and sold on Namebase, using Handshake coins (HNS).

Akash Hosts It, Handshake Points to It

Akash is a decentralized cloud marketplace and deployment platform. It provides a distributed alternative to the cloud infrastructure provided by the big three of Microsoft Azure, Google, and Amazon. In recent weeks, Azure has twice threatened to pull the plug on hosting due to perceived “offensive content” (i.e free speech) that was posted on the platform. With Akash, applications can be housed in containers that are mirrored and stored on multiple cloud servers, resulting in low latency and minimizing the risk of the plug being pulled, as is the case when being hosted by a centralized provider.

Decentralizing the Web: Handshake, Akash and the Quest for Censorship-Resistance

Akash is by no means the only distributed cloud computing provider, but it’s an example of how the current limitations of the internet, which prevent true censorship-resistance, can be overcome. As it stands, decentralized apps are dependent upon the website they’re hosted on remaining online. You might own your Cryptokitty as an ERC721 token, but without to serve its accompanying cute kitty pic and provide a visual interface for trading and breeding it, that token has no utility. It’s a similar story with dapps such as Augur and IDEX that require connection to components of the centralized web to function.

Zero Censorship, Zero Centralization

Decentralizing the Web: Handshake, Akash and the Quest for Censorship-Resistance“Akash provides the CPU memory storage and Handshake provides DNS – it’s a marriage made in heaven,” proclaimed Akash founder Greg Osuri, in conversation with “I was so excited when I saw Handshake…Any application on Akash will use a Handshake DNS server. It’s a mutual partnership where they help us by giving the value of a decentralized network and we help them with adoption.”

Greg Osuri claims that Akash is currently running the largest Handshake testnet, comprising of 16 nodes, as the two services prepare to be rolled out across the web. With its own testnet, which launched earlier this month, Akash is utilizing eight distributed cloud servers around the world which equate to “half a terabyte a capacity that could host 1,000 dynamic sites or 10,000 static websites”.

Decentralizing the Web: Handshake, Akash and the Quest for Censorship-Resistance
Handshake’s token allocation

In an attempt to distribute ownership of the root zone far and wide, Handshake is giving 70% of its tokens away to the developer community. Like Akash, it is fully open source.

Decentralization is not absolute, and thus it is impossible to create a network that is 100% censorship-free. Projects such as Akash and Handshake are a step in the right direction, however, and hopefully a harbinger of the web to come.

Do you think projects such as Akash and Handshake will gain traction and make the web more censorship-resistant? Let us know in the comments section below.

Images courtesy of Shutterstock, and Twitter.

Need to calculate your bitcoin holdings? Check our tools section.

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Messaging firm Line launches a dedicated crypto fund

Messaging company Line is continuing to burrow deep into the crypto space after it announced the launch of a $10 million investment fund.

The fund will be operated by Line’s Korea-based blockchain subsidiary Unblock Corporation, which is tasked with research, education and other blockchain-related services. The fund will be called Unblock Ventures and it’ll initially have a capital pool of $10 million but Line said that is likely to increase over time.

The company said the fund will be focused on early-stage startup investments, but it didn’t provide further details.

Line is listed in Tokyo and on the NYSE. This fund makes it one of the first publicly traded companies to create a dedicated crypto investment vehicle. The objective, it said, is “to boost the development and adoption of cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology.”

Line claims nearly 200 million users of its messaging app, which is particularly popular in Japan, Taiwan, Thailand and Indonesia. The company also offers a range of connected services that include payment, social games, ride-hailing, food delivery and more.

This marks Line’s second major crypto move this year following the launch of its BitBox exchange last month. It isn’t available in the U.S. or Japan right now but Line envisages closes ties with its messaging service and other features further down the line.

These moves into crypto come despite some serious downturn in the valuation of the space this year following record highs in January which saw the value of one Bitcoin touch nearly $20,000 and Ethereum, among others, surged. In the months since then, however, many cryptocurrencies have seen their valuations decline. This week, Ethereum dropped below $300 in what is its first major price crisis. Bitcoin has, for many years, risen and fallen although January’s valuations took the extremes to a new level.

Note: The author owns a small amount of cryptocurrency. Enough to gain an understanding, not enough to change a life.

Decentralized Apps Might Be the Future but They’re Not the Present

Decentralized Apps Might Be the Future but They’re Not the Present

To their proponents, dapps – decentralized applications – are the future of internet. To their critics, they’re multi-million dollar sinkholes, with huge development costs, poor UI, and no users. Are dapps like Augur and IDEX early test cases for the web to come, or impractical experiments that are destined to fail?

Also read: Bitcoin ATMs Now In The Thousands Around the World

Decentralized Cash is a Success But Decentralized Apps Remain Unproven

Hating on dapps has become something of a parlor game. They’re an easy target after all. While all the headlines are about VCs pouring millions of dollars of seed money into dapps like Crypto Kitties, and the highly publicized launch of Augur (market cap $311 million), behind the scenes, things are less than rosy. The latter, which launched with great fanfare several years and personnel changes later, typically has less than 60 daily active users (DAUs) and yet Augur is supposedly ethereum’s flagship dapp.

Decentralized Apps Might Be the Future but They’re Not the Present

A glance around the categories on Dappradar shows that the number of people talking about dapps is multitudes greater than the number actually using them. For less than 90 DAU, your dapp can make it into the top 20 for all categories and for around 230 DAU into the top 10. Only decentralized exchanges IDEX and Forkdelta, plus the runaway ponzi game Fomo3D, have more than 1,000 daily active users. It’s to be expected that numbers should be low in the evolution of what is still a nascent technology, but should they be so low that you could squeeze the users of the average dapp into a small room?

“Design is the Killer App for Crypto”

A widely shared article from Coinbase this week, titled “Why design is the killer app for crypto”, observed: “Blockchain today is often compared to the internet in the 1990s. When the internet first came about, you couldn’t have predicted that twenty years later people would be using it to share their houses and cars (thanks to Airbnb and Lyft). The builders of the web didn’t have to know what all the possibilities were — they were just a group of passionate people who believed that this technology was important and transformational to society, and they pulled together to work to make it a reality.”

Decentralized Apps Might Be the Future but They’re Not the Present
Coinbase cited road sign design as an example of how UI improves with time.

Dapps, and the other components that form what’s known as web 3.0, often look clunky and complex to outsiders. Spoiled by slick social networks, whose UI  has been polished till it shines with the force of 1,000 suns, web users are apt to look askance at dapps that fail to match the performance of their centralized counterparts. Once dapp design improves, and the speed of the blockchains they run on increases, so the theory goes, the users will come. Federico Ast, founder of decentralized justice protocol Kleros, agrees, telling

New technologies are usually received with skepticism. It’s easy to dismiss a new technology when you compare its very first iteration with the established versions of previous technologies.

From GPS to Bitcoin Wallets, Early Versions Always Suck

As anyone who’s been in bitcoin from near the beginning will know, decentralized technologies have already came a long way. There were no QR codes or mobile apps with the first BTC wallets: just slow and unintuitive desktop builds that called for synching the entire blockchain. GPS is another tool, built into our phones, we take for granted, but watch an episode of Top Gear from the late 90s and you’ll see Jeremy Clarkson testing a $5,000 GPS kit that’s as boxy as the car it’s installed in.

Decentralized Apps Might Be the Future but They’re Not the Present
Doges on Trial

Kleros’ first foray into the world of dapps is a test case for its justice protocol called Doges on Trial. Participants are invited to upload images of fake doges or even of cats to see if they can sneak them past the crowdsourced jurors. Like all dapps, it looks rudimentary and frivolous, but there are serious concepts being put to test. “Of course the very first cars were slower and more expensive than horses. And sending the first email was more expensive than traditional mail,” notes Kleros’ Federico Ast. “But the performance of new technologies increases exponentially. What may start as a ‘silly experiment’ proposing users sort a Doge list (“Hey, any 5-year-old can do that!”) may be the first step to fundamentally rethinking arbitration from the ground up.”

Decentralized Apps Might Be the Future but They’re Not the Present
Early GPS

It has been categorically established, nine years on from the genesis block, that a sizeable chunk of the population want decentralized money. It could be another nine years before we can say for sure whether they want decentralized apps. The number of daily active users for dapps are less than encouraging, but it would be foolish, at this stage of the game, to write them off, just as it has been proven foolish to write off the internet, GPS, and every other transformative technology we now take for granted.

Youtube and Twitter have come in for renewed criticism this week for censoring content

Besides, in an era of increasing censorship and surveillance, we need decentralized apps more than ever.

Do you think decentralized apps are the future? Let us know in the comments section below.

Images courtesy of Shutterstock, Dappradar, and Coinbase.

Need to calculate your bitcoin holdings? Check our tools section.

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