Facebook’s blockchain experiment is positive for the industry

While Facebook's decentralisation experiments might have raised eyebrows for some, Ralph Vugts argues that the tech giant's move is actually a good thing for the industry.

The recent explosion in blockchain and cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and the thousands of knock-offs that followed, all promising to be the next big thing and to essentially make you rich, are all driven by one thing: pure greed.

When you’re looking at a crypto exchange and you’re thinking about buying some coins, what are you really doing? You’re betting that one will go up more than another.

No one’s buying Dogecoin so they can order a pizza online. Hell, even Bitcoin’s transaction fee is so high now it costs about the same as the pizza itself, which kinda defeats the purpose.

I’ll be honest, the only reason I started trading on these exchanges was to make a quick buck like everyone else. When it became harder to make that quick buck, I quickly lost interest and stopped spending my time creating scripts to analyze the next trend.

But being greedy gets a bad rap. While it’s not a great way to act as a human being (every dollar I made was one that someone else lost), in this case it helps drive technology forward.

Since the Bitcoin boom, fellow nerds have been working hard on building the next bigger and better decentralised currencies which are far more efficient to verify (no more $20 transaction fee when you buy your pizza).

While current Blockchain technology is great for storing small transaction-type data, we are still not really at the dream stage where we can build fully decentralised applications effectively.

You still need to build your services that interact with blockchain via traditional means (Bitcoin exchange websites for example). As a business it’s great for us, as we can still create solutions which bridge that gap.

But when Facebook recently announced that it was entering the Blockchain space, I rejoiced a little. While they will definitely have their own interests at heart, the amount of money and resources they will inject into pushing the technology forward will help propel it toward the dream stage of a fully decentralised internet.

We need more large corporations like this to start creating platforms and frameworks that make it easy and fast for developers to develop and bring their ideas to life.

While other large players like Microsoft and IBM are also starting to mature their Blockchain platforms, they still have a long way to go. Unfortunately, they are also focused on selling you more server time, so most of their solutions will be geared towards pushing those services. This makes companies like Facebook even more appealing, as they only want to harvest your data in the most cost effective and ‘secure’ manner.

Credit: HBO

If we wanted to go full Richard Hendricks from HBO’s hit comedy ‘Silicon Valley’, on this and build a truly decentralised internet, it’s going to take a lot of investment to get to that point. And a lot of this investment could lead to the IBMs of the world losing some market share as people no longer have to buy servers, leading to them putting the brakes on some really good ideas.

While the NBN in Australia is still a bit of a joke, around the world people’s home internet connections are getting faster and faster. And if blockchain technology takes off, like I hope it will, one day the data you need might be actually stored right next door to you.

Ralph Vugts is development director at Engaging.io.


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