Blockchain is Platforms, with a “s”
Contrary to popular belief, a blockchain platform is not inherently more valuable than other types of projects.
If you only scratch the surface of this market, you would think that our community has reached a true consensus on the prior importance of investing in protocols and smart contract technologies versus decentralized applications.
But is such apparent agreement based off data or dogma?
As a response to the expectations of influential stakeholders, and rather than trying to demonstrate the tangible value of decentralized applications to consumers, many engineering teams end up making platform promises they can hardly fulfil.
With increasingly more Elephant money flowing to such projects, at the expense of making the case for Blockchain (and DAG) technologies with DApps, the polarization of the cryptocurrency market could quickly prove unhealthy.
This post is an attempt at exploring why.
Your favorite cryptocurrency YouTuber probably doesn’t get it
Although there’s something uniquely exciting in betting on the technology that could birth the next Internet, very little justifies the sometimes despicable treatment of DApps in token sale analysis.
The underlying opportunity behind any project lies in its very ability to get adopted by its target audience and to capture value in the industry it is trying to disrupt.
A main net doesn’t magically increase the TAM, SAM and SOM of a Ledger-based product, that’s market analysis 101.
If anything, DApps are just trying to solve different problems for different stakeholders, while platforms either build the distributed infrastructure to host them or the tools to develop them.
These are truly three chapters of the same engineering story.
With the top performing coins being platforms, it is easy to fell for the trap of inductive reasoning when it comes to designing valuation frameworks. Everybody feels comfortable with the idea of repeatable success, especially in an uncertain market, comprised of highly volatile assets.
But it’s probably high time to challenge a model that crystallised a design choice into a debatable project requirement.
Contrary to decentralized ledgers, design choices are thankfully not immutable.
A platform is a design choice, not an oath
The Blockchain space is in dire need of leaner practices.
As you know, the way we build Blockchain projects has steadily shaped into a) making promises in the form of a white paper, and b) deliver on these promises according to a public roadmap.
This approach has its merits in terms of transparency but it also makes it harder to adapt the direction of a Blockchain product as it undergoes market validation. It tends to set stakeholder expectations that could infer Blockchain rigor mortis, instead of properly benefitting customer alignment (which is what lean execution is about).
If a milestone were to be removed from the project’s roadmap for example, stakeholders could state concerns that the project isn’t doing what it promised to do in the first place. While true, should a proposed change, driven by tangible insights and backed assumptions, ever lead to some of the massive schisms we’ve witnessed in the space?
Surely in a System of Beliefs like Blockchain, roadmaps are poised to be mistaken for pilgrimages... But they feel much more like an episode of The Walking Dead to some of the Blockchain companies out there.
At the end of the day, Blockchain teams need all the weapons to avoid getting bit by a horde of coinpetitors.
The future is platforms with a “s”
There’s no such thing as building a DApp on a single blockchain platform. In fact, that’s not even how centralized applications are built today.
For the past years, developers have been rapidly moving away from building monolithic applications to adopting more distributed development approaches like microservice based architectures.
As explained in one of our previous posts, a microservice architecture lets you structure an application as a collection of small, loosely coupled services. They increase the velocity of developments and the maintainability of the product as the company grows. They also give developers the freedom to use a wide variety of technologies, across dozens to hundreds of microservices.
Architecturing softwares always comes down to using the right technology for the right job. In a distributed architecture, specialized technologies and platforms are combined to achieve a desirable outcome in the most efficient way.
In Blockchain terms, it means that most DApps, platforms and protocols will ultimately rely on multiple other DApps, platforms and protocols to mature into fully-fledged solutions and pave the way to more intuitive user experiences.
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