I’ve been beating the drum on digital pets and economies of scale for digital assets for a while at USV. I really thought (and still think!) that would be the killer use case for Augmented Reality. Alas, AR has been pushed aside to make way for its hotter and more elusive cousin, crypto. This time, it comes in the form of CryptoKitties.
When Andy and Fred sent out an email on Sunday called, “Naming Our Kitten,” with an FYI that they’ve sired a cartoon cat together on the blockchain, I was confused but not surprised. First, it’s 2017 and second, this is the best use of blockchain I can think of. I’ve been waiting months for a discussion of cats and if it has to be tied to blockchain, so be it. To alleviate some of the confusion, I checked in with Andy to ask why, after months of discussion around things like public-key cryptosystems and multiparty computations, we’re talking about digital cats.
He had 4 good points:
- This is Fun
- The internet is always about cats.
- CryptoKitties is partially centralized, and for the right reasons. How will we handle that?
- It’s simple. And that’s ok. We don’t need to be figuring out the fundamentals of cryptography all the time.
So, after playing with cryptokitties, this is what I’m thinking about:
Scaling is a Problem
Ethereum is one of the most advanced networks in terms of ability to support scaling of Decentralized Apps. Yet here’s what happened this weekend: a very simple app on ethereum + a sudden surge in users (though by no means mass adoption) = congestion on the network and transaction issues that break things.
Fred Ehrsam has written elegantly on the topic of scaling issues in DApps. TL;DR, scaling to millions of users will present significant challenges and can’t run solely on chain.
Wallet As Identity
The first thing I did when joining cryptokitties was to link my MetaMask wallet to my coinbase account. My MetaMask wallet is my identity on this app. I think that wallets will be my identity on future decentralized apps and as such, the basis of “identity” is a collection of public / private key pairs.
As the DApp ecosystem emerges and users gain control of more data in more places, you could ostensibly be holding a collection of private keys to data wallets. I don’t know if there’s one wallet to rule them all, so one challenge / opportunity could be linking them together.
AR Pets + Blockchain
Can someone please make this or inform me of someone who is? This would be absolutely delightful and a marriage of wonderful technologies.
The handsome cat at the top of this page is the one that Andy and Fred have sired. He has been named Un-Super-Vised. He’s got some pretty cool lucky stripes and genetic traits.
As always, feel free to reach out if you want to chat about what you’re working on.