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Blockchain: Big but small

Consider Amazon, the e-commerce bits of the company. While it might have started out as an online bookshop, it evolved into a generalized online marketplace.

So what was critical in the success of Amazon?

The internet would probably be a good answer to that question, among many other things. But how much of the overall software and business development efforts at Amazon do you think relate to core internet activities? Sure, it’s got a big online presence, which will require a lot of internet hardware, internet people and teams, ops, etc..

But in the grand scheme of things, how much of it all is directly related to core internet connectivity? Probably not that much..

Think about the other end of the scale, your personal website. If you’re semi technical and you manage to put together a website, then upload it, how much time did you spend thinking about internet protocol setups and related? Maybe a little bit when you set up your domain, or the final uploading and deployment. I think otherwise all your focus was on HTML, CSS, images, and maybe some JavaScript, PHP, or similar, with a little bit of database setup thrown in.

What I’m getting at is that, while the internet is critical infrastructure in both of the above cases, it plays a very small to almost insignificant part of the overall work that goes into creating what’s built on top. The time is spent elsewhere, on stuff that sits on top. The only exception is when it stops working..

The same will apply to the blockchain.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying the internet runs itself. I know there many competent and dedicated people involved, making sure it all runs as well as it does, 24/7, every day of the year. This stuff doesn’t happen through magic.

And neither will blockchain, with all of its infrastructure. Infrastructure we’re still defining, developing, building and deploying. But just like the internet, blockchain will become a critical infrastructure we’ll not spend much time thinking about. It will become 5-10% of your software architecture: Absolutely critical, but managed by some people you sometimes interact with, within the otherwise big but standard machinery of usual software development.

And of course, just like the internet, if your software doesn’t have those 5-10% of blockchain in it, it quickly becomes obsolete.