Handshake is the Missing Link in a Decentralized Web
Part 0: An Introduction to Handshake
If you believe that blockchain technology is only about cryptocurrency, you’re dead wrong. The real story being written right now is the complete replacement of the infrastructure of the internet. So while Bitcoin serves as the financial rail and Ethereum exists for applications, Handshake solves another crucial piece of the internet; Domain Names.
If you’re a domain addict you’re going to love Handshake
Handshake is a single purpose blockchain for registering and resolving domain names. Most of you should be familiar with registering domain names. If you’re anything like me you regularly head over to your favorite domain registrar to feed your habit. But why? Why is it that only a few companies have control over the TLD’s like “.com” or “.net?”
I think ICANN I think ICANN
ICANN is the nonprofit body that controls the current domain name ecosystem. Unlike most villains of the decentralized struggle, ICANN isn’t really a villain at all. ICANN was founded by the same sort of open source computer hippies that populate the world of crypto today. The main problem with ICANN is the same one that exists in any sort of centralized institution, regulatory capture.
Again, I want to be abundantly clear that ICANN does a great job within the current architecture of the internet. But this is the future baby! Where we’re going we don’t need centralized institutions.
To illustrate how it’s the current architecture that is the issue and not the people you need look no further than the recent sale of the “.org” TLD. In short that TLD was owned by a non-profit who recently announced they were acquired by a private equity firm. There are some other details that make this deal appear a little shady.
So what is Handshake? Do I need to wear gloves?
The only bad thing about Handshake is the fact that its name represents a currently forbidden social practice. Rather than butcher what Handshake is all about I’ll just share a snippet from their website.
Services on the internet have become more centralized beginning in the 1990s, but do not fulfill the original decentralized vision of the internet. Email became Gmail, usenet became reddit, blog replies became facebook and Medium, pingbacks became twitter, squid became Cloudflare, even gnutella became The Pirate Bay.
This is a beautiful pair of sentences. The key phrase for me is the part about fulfilling the original decentralized vision of the internet. This fact is lost on the billions of people who use the internet everyday. The web was created as a tool for open communication and free flow of ideas. Projects like Handshake are merely taking those initial ideals and hardening them with new tools, like the blockchain.
In it’s simplest form, Handshake replaces ICANN and centralized companies like GoDaddy with an open permissionless network. So now, instead of paying application fees and spending billions of dollars to own the right to control “.org” anyone can bid on a TLD and start offering domains to anyone else. What’s better is that there is no centralized body for governments to lobby and request routing to a given site be shut down. This is revolutionary.
Ok I’m sold, where do I get my own TLD?
Lucky for you there is a company called Namebase that already exists. Right now you can exchange your $BTC for $HNS and bid on an auction for a TLD. Once you’ve got that coin in your wallet you can begin bidding to your little hearts content. If you want to see Handshake site in action here is an incomplete list of site using it.
My current favorite is .waffle/
What does it all mean?
Domain names are a core piece of how the internet works. They are so ingrained in our everyday life we hardly think of them anymore. Yet without Handshake the vision for a re-decentralized web is lost. You can have all the Ethereum apps in the world but what’s the use if they’re all censored. Bitcoin can’t be the currency of the internet if all sites that use it are blocked.
Handshake is the missing piece of the decentralized web that opened my eyes to how possible re-decentralization is. We have the power to take the internet back and reinvent it with greater freedoms. Whats even better is that you don’t have to be a coding mega genius to take part. All you need to do is hold some coins and buy some TLDs.
Shoutout to the Namebase team for some more links and context!
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If you’re enjoying these posts and want me to keep them coming you can tip me some $HNS: hs1qpqtj33nrzmt9lyulah6p2s73zjg5zshkq7r2sq
Or you can buy some Handshake Merch
Edited By: Steven McKie