What is the Interchain?

Richard Burton
Jun 8, 2017 · 3 min read

(Many people smarter than I have thoughts on this. I am trying to answer this for myself. Here are some quick thoughts.)

When I was working with the Ethereum team, there was a dream of building an app store build atop of decentralised, blockchain-based protocols, instead of centralised, company-controlled APIs. My first little attempt in that direction was this:

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https://dribbble.com/shots/2175361-Ethereum-App-Store

Back then, it was too early for the idea to take off. Things are different now.

Today, we have a bunch of blockchains that have been built. We think that there will be many more blockchains in the future.

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The state of blockchains today.

As the difficulty of developing a chain drops, the number of them will increase. This was true for web pages on the Internet.

Before the Internet, there was a private ethernet in lots of schools, companies and governments. There were also public, isolated networks. After the Internet, all of these networks were connected together.

We think something similar will happen for blockchains. Someone will define the standards for the Interchain.

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The state of blockchains in the future.

The World Wide Web Spec helped define the Internet. A new spec will define the Interchain. It could be a sidechain system, or Cosmos, or Polkadot—or something completely new.

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Standards drive the network.

There are lots of ways the core units of the Internet match up to the core units of the Interchain. Hyperlink & Chainlink, Page & Block, Server & Miner.

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Internet ← General Point → Interchain

On the Internet, you request a piece of information. On the Interchain, you request to make a transaction. You used to be able to make a list of all the websites in the world. You can easily make a list of all the chains. That will change.

People will search the Interchain for what they need and use distributed applications in a new browser to make transactions. Sending money to friends, buying insurance, participating in a lottery, paying taxes, reviewing a new restaurant. You can do all of those things on the Internet by interacting with companies. On the Interchain, you will be able to do those things by interacting with protocols.

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Internet Browser & Interchain Browser

As more people used the Internet, the value of searching and requesting went up. As more people start to use the Interchain, the value of searching and transacting will go up.

We have a few *very early* ideas about what a browser for the Interchain might look like. Here’s a quick mockup I threw together yesterday:

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https://dribbble.com/shots/3549947-Interchain-Browser

Money is the first core application because it is required to kick off a transaction. We might branch out from there into chat, money transfers, health records or file storage. Each user interface will link itself to a protocol’s API instead of a company’s API.

If the Interchain does exist, we will integrate with it and try to make a simple and powerful browser for the Interchain.

Balance

Interfaces for the open source financial system.

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