Let’s start at the very beginning. What will happen when you open your browser and access a website?
When the Internet was first created, it was supposed to be decentralized—but that’s not currently the case. One of the central points risking failure are DNS servers that translate domain names like stxnext.com to IP addresses such as 22.214.171.124. This domain world is controlled by centralized, national institutions, for instance NASK in Poland or ICANN in the US.
But very soon, selling web domains and transferring domain ownership could be handled through blockchain. We could have an immutable ledger of who owned what domain at what time, as well as the payments for each domain. Once this happens, the market will be fully transparent.
Crucially, this would be a ledger that centralized, national institutions wouldn’t be able to influence. There are projects already working to achieve just that, such as Namecoin. And that is hardly the only instance of blockchain bringing about changes of this kind.
You might notice a pattern forming here: when blockchain comes in, centralized institutions go out.
In the blockchain world, your browser will have micropayments built-in. You will be able to make use of this to pay a cent’s worth of some cryptocurrency to view an article, for example.
Even miniscule amounts of value will be easy to exchange and keep track of once cryptocurrency tech reaches maturity. While some transaction fees are bound to remain, micropayments will be largely free of additional charges and user-friendly.
Advertising models will change, as will subscription models, potentially evolving into “pay as you go” or services paid by the day.
This will also allow you to appreciate the content you see on the web to a greater, tangible extent. A “like” will have actual value, expressed in crypto tokens.
Actually, that’s already happening: take a look at steem.io. It’s a social media platform where you can create content to earn Steem, and then use your Steem to express your appreciation of other people’s content.
To sum up, in the blockchain world your wallet will be plugged directly into your browser, allowing you to transfer value instantly. Support charities, shop online, tip artists—all via true one-click payments built into your browser.
Blockchain will also allow you to create a secure personal profile that confirms your identity. You will be able to browse every website you visit either through your personal profile or incognito.
This may not sound very exciting initially, but consider this: you won’t need to register anywhere anymore.
Additionally, you will decide what data you share on your profile and what data you transfer to each site—full transparency guaranteed.
You will even be able to sell your data at will, for instance by sharing your ad preferences or your location and gaining utility tokens that in turn give you access to many different services, such as streaming or exclusive content.
The way this works is you create a personal profile that functions as your identity verification, data vault, and wallet—all at the same time. This profile is protected by a pair of keys: one private, and one public. The private key can be used by you and you alone, while the public one can be seen by everyone and used to verify your identity.
Security-wise, the biggest selling point of your private key is that it’s a) extremely hard to break, and b) irrecoverable. Seriously, there is no password recovery system in place; once lost, your password is gone for good, no matter how much crypto you may have on it. So while using it lets you sleep better at night, make sure you have that password saved and safely stored someplace.
The main purpose of your public key, on the other hand, is validating your signature, but that’s about it—no one can use it to sign anything for you.
Currently, we are giving away our personal information mostly for free, without a genuine system of checks and balances to prevent big data companies from profiting off of them at our expense (looking at you, Facebook). In the blockchain world, we are in control, as we should be.
The changes in the new blockchain reality would go beyond just the browser experience, though.
Imagine the impact of the blockchain economy on servers. In the vein of projects like Filecoin or IPFS, blockchain could remove the need for centralized server providers. The servers you use could be dispersed around the world.
Additionally, everyone could offer their hosting capacity, bandwidth, and CPU to join the global cloud. You could buy a server, hook it up, and lease it out to start earning crypto as a service provider, becoming part of a global network. In doing so, you would eliminate all middlemen and all payment providers.
As a result, the future Web could be entirely distributed. There would be no single point of failure.
We’ve said this already, but the common thread continues here, as well: whatever service blockchain touches becomes a shared economy.
For DNS, managing DNS servers or selling domains stops being a problem. The state of each domain gets saved on the blockchain.
For servers, you no longer need hosting companies. Service providers like Amazon are still free to offer professional data hosting on their servers, but they can’t dictate the price if they participate in the shared economy. The market balances the price out organically via the associated utility coin(s).
For web ads, the power shifts from centralized providers like Facebook back to you, the user. With your personal data secured through blockchain tech, you control who gets your info, and if they do, they have to offer you something of value in return. (Check out the Brave browser and the Basic Attention Token (BAT) for an idea of how this could work.)
The shift also encompasses the way businesses monetize their content. Doing it through micro-payments allows them to focus on the quality of the content they deliver, instead of resorting to traditional ads and clickbait.
It’s easy to get excited thinking about all the possibilities that blockchain projects could open before us. Some claim that this new technology could even help us end world hunger, promote gender equality, and preserve world peace.
Still, the future remains largely unknown. There’s a lot we can’t yet predict.
How will the new, blockchain-powered shared economy work?
How will the amount of resources and number of players in the system change?
Can we prevent these networks from recentralizing?
Will the idea itself even take off at all?
With that in mind, let’s proceed right to the last section. Realistically speaking, what should you do about blockchain for the time being, without falling prey to the hype?
We have reached the end of our two-part “Blockchain 101” series of articles. By now, you are hopefully familiar with the many applications of blockchain and what it spells out for the future. However, we’d like to leave you with a little bit of advice and several things to keep in mind should you decide to go forward into the world of blockchain:
Notice that this list of recommendations does not include an item saying, “Invest in all the cryptocurrencies you can get your hands on.” For many blockchain projects, creating a token that increases in value is not a priority, and could even be counterproductive. As with any investment decision, you should do more research beyond our humble articles and be smart about how you spend your money.
The question of investing in cryptocurrencies aside, though, there is no doubt that we are on the cusp of a digital revolution the world hasn’t seen since the creation of the Internet. The jury’s still out on what exactly the blockchain-powered future holds, but whatever it is, it’ll shake the foundations of life online as we know it.
One thing is certain: a change is coming, and it is right around the corner.
Are you ready for it?
Thank you for reading. We hope this article helped explain and summarize the potential of blockchain tech, and what impact it may have on the world of business at large.
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