Towards the tail end of 2017, numerous blockchain technology industry experts and commentators began to release their predictions for 2018. These predictions are as varied as the number of cryptocoins available in the market. Such is the scale of the crypto and blockchain tech space almost anything is literally possible. Digital tech is advancing at an incredible rate and with it comes the possibility of protocols that only a few years ago seemed impossible. From deep learning to machine learning, artificial intelligence and even the emergence of the Internet of Things (IoT), the scene is positively buzzing with a lot of developments. Within this ever-growing catalog of eye-catching innovations, DApps have emerged as one of the areas to look out for.
DApps stand for Decentralized Applications and they have come about as a direct consequence of the emergence of the Blockchain. After Satoshi Nakamoto’s successful implementation of the Bitcoin Blockchain, the world was made wiser to the possibility of creating intuitive, self-governing DApps. One of the predictions that has been made by experts concerning the crypto and blockchain tech space in 2018 has been that it will be the year for DApp projects. Before attempting to provide a comprehensive analysis of the merits of such a prediction, it is important to briefly examine what DApps are.
What are DApps?
A single statement definition of DApps is still elusive. The concept isn’t fully understood yet it in all its complexities. It is, however, more common to describe DApps according to a series of 4 core features. These features are as follows:
A DApp must be decentralized meaning that all records of operation and app transactions are stored on a public ledger. So, DApps run on blockchain or blockchain-like cryptographic networks that have no central server or network hierarchy and all nodes are essentially equal. This decentralized public ledger must be accessible to all participating nodes on the DApp.
The incentive-based feature of a DApp is based on the need to create a reward system that encourages network nodes to participate in the DApp. Once you take centralization off the window in a network, the onus now falls on the nodes to individually and collectively perform the duties that a central server would ordinarily perform. DApps have crypto tokens (coins) that are native to the app and are used to carry out transactions and validate the blockchain of the DApp. These tokens being a store of some value become the appropriate reward for participating in the DApp network.
3. Open Source
All DApps are open source projects, their source codes are available to the public. The entire premise of the DApp is to create a new class of apps that no one can claim ownership of, neither can it be shut down or experience downtime. To fulfill all of these parameters, a DApp project simply has to be an open source project that is built on community collaboration. Developers and enthusiasts from all over the world converging on a specific point on the digital map to create a decentralized application protocol. As with all open source projects, decision making and governance is all about consensus.
4. Consensus Mechanism
With the need for consensus established by the fact that the governance of a DApp is inherently autonomous, a working protocol is required for achieving the consensus with the DApp blockchain. Any and every decision within the DApp is subject to such a protocol and it is usually implemented in the form of cryptographic hashing protocol. There are quite a number of protocols, with Proof-of-Work and Proof-of-Stake being the most popular and widely used.
In order for an application to be called a DApp, it must have all 4 of these aforementioned features. As a result, it is correct to say Bitcoin is a DApp, albeit not a sophisticated one as it requires a lot of protocol layering in order to offer robust DApp functionalities. Also, Ethereum can also be classified as a DApp, although this would be a gross oversimplification of what it truly is. Ethereum is more of a platform that allows developers to build their own DApps. As a result, many of the more popular DApps like Augur, Golem, and Aragon were built on the Ethereum network.
Potential Impacts of DApps on the Global Scene
DApps offer up pretty much the same benefits as a blockchain protocol in general but in a more sophisticated way. Think of a DApp like a more streamlined blockchain protocol, offering a particular solution or set of solutions. They will generally bridge the gap between users and service providers across many business segments, without the need for mediating third-party involvement.
Some of the potential impacts of DApps that could potentially be seen from this year 2018 are as follows:
· Improved Data Ownership Rights
Not many ordinary users of the Internet realize this, but data is arguably the most valuable asset in the digital world. In the mainstream centralized Internet construct, despite the fact that data is provided by users, ownership and control of the data is in the hands of Social Media Platforms, apps, and websites just to name a few. When you post personal information on your social media platform, it becomes the property of that platform.
DApps will create an environment where ownership of data will be transferred back from internet corporations to the hands of those who actually create and post them. Instead of data monetization being the exclusive preserve of the big internet companies, the average user of the internet will be able to make money from his/her internet usage.
· IoT Integration
It is exciting times as far as the actualization of the IoT concept is concerned. DApps are becoming an even more prominent part of the IoT process. This is due to the fact that experts have realized that blockchains are a veritable solution to the issue of data transfer due to the increased number of data points brought about by a literal Internet of all Things.
Blockchains have no central servers and data transfer requires connection to the nearest peer node. With such a fast and efficient protocol, DApps will play a leading role in the actualisation of the IoT.
· Enhanced Digital Security
Cryptographic protocols embedded in the framework of DApps provide robust security features that will offer improved digital security. The blockchain is theoretically immutable and as it grows in size, this immutability becomes even secured. DApps will provide the building blocks for a safer, more secure internet where user data is protected from hackers and digital spies.
With quite a number of DApp projects already up and running, there is the possibility that 2018 will see many of them entering advanced testing phases. Each DApp project on its own provides some exciting potential and they all roll up to create a more sophisticated digital ecosystem.