Ethereum (ETH) has changed a lot over the relatively few years it has been in existence. Originally, it was nothing more than a Bitcoin alternative.
However, it has evolved and continues to evolve to this day, but questions still remain about the platform itself — as well as the ability to continue scaling at the current rate.
The problem with Ethereum dapps is "The Deep Stack Problem"
It took decades of nerds making systems for each other to get to the stack complexity that made web1.0 possible. We are trying to make a categorically more complex stack, with categorically less skilled people.
— Rick Dudley (@AFDudley0) December 28, 2018
The tweet above highlights one of the many ongoing challenges Ethereum decentralized application (dApp) developers face, specifically in comparison to early-stage web enthusiasts. Whether or not this is a fair comparison remains to be seen.
Some Assembly Required
Given that Ethereum has only been live since July 2015, it is still in its primary stages of development. The origins of web 1.0, otherwise known as the internet, took years to create. It was entirely made up of web pages connected through hyperlinks. Interactive content did not exist, and most applications were proprietary.
Web 1.0 was made possible by the work of people with an intuitive understanding of the underlying technology coupled with a passionate commitment to enable optimal utilization. This coalesced to produce widespread adoption of the internet. It ended up taking decades to advance the web to a point where it was ready everyday use by the general public.
Ethereum’s creators display equal passion toward their cause. They hold firmly to the belief that the blockchain system is the way of the future. However, major structural differences exist in the development of the Ethereum platform which were simply not concerning factors for early web developers.
Moving Toward Adoption?
The first and most obvious difference is the time factor. Vitalik Buterin proposed Ethereum as a Bitcoin alternative in 2013. Two years later, in 2015, the platform was live.
While the time frame from conception to the public launch of Tim Berners-Lee’s world wide web platform was similar to Ethereum, the time to actually get to a place of potential widespread use was much longer. The potential for such a thing had existed for several years, and the dream was literally decades in the making. Furthermore, the true interactivity features of the web took many years to develop and manifested as the interactivity of web 2.0.
A second difference between the history of the web and that of Ethereum is the amount of funding both projects received. When Tim Berners-Lee conceptualized and created the world wide web, he was employed by CERN. He created the web as a communication device for scientists and educators to share information in an automated and connected environment.
Berners-Lee achieved this with very little financial backing, and certainly no crowdfunding. The potential for mass financial support efforts barely existed in the days before Berners-Lee created the internet. Other early internet technology had also developed without millions of dollars of backing.
When Berners-Lee and a select few of his associates at CERN realized the true potential of their communication tool, they made it a priority to ensure that internet access would be free and readily available on a mass scale to anyone who wanted it.
For this, the world is truly fortunate. Internet access is free because the technology was created and distributed by scientists and educators who in no way planned to profit off their invention, and in fact, lobbied against its monetization. This was not the case with cryptocurrency.
While the original creators did hold to a more pure view of the worldwide use case potential of blockchain technology, there is not a doubt that the opportunity for profit was equally at the forefront of their minds.
Digital money is only one small aspect of this conversation. For Ethereum in particular, the flexibility of the platform ensures almost unlimited potential for profit. Furthermore, the Ethereum ICO raised $18 million over 42 days — an unheard of amount at that time. Berners-Lee never had $18 million to work with. He and his cohorts also did not benefit from the type of fundraising that followed the ETH initial coin offering (ICO).
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, blockchain was born into a time and culture that supported technological advances at a level that has never previously existed. The rate of innovation today is unsurpassed. At no other time in history have things moved as quickly as they do now.
A Fair Comparison?
The very fact that an entire industry built its very own blockchain infrastructure, launched into widespread usage, and now thrives after just half a decade of existence is remarkable. This would not have been possible thirty years ago when the internet was invented. The use of blockchain technology is possible thanks to the internet and every advance made possible by it.
While these issues stand in the way of a genuine comparison between the internet and Ethereum, the reality is that Buterin’s Baby is likely still a long way off from genuine stability on the same level as the internet. Though certainly a likely candidate for success, much work, trial, and error remains to be done before functional usefulness has been sufficiently established.
Do you think Ethereum is here to stay? Will it sputter out before true widespread adoption occurs? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!
Images courtesy of Twitter