A brief history of the internet…
Web 1.0 was the very first iteration of the internet. This era can primarily be categorised by static websites that could only display information. This would allow users to browse, but not interact with data on a website. This ultimately meant that use cases for Web 1.0 technology were severely limited. Essentially, users of Web 1.0 technologies were passive consumers of content.
As we moved into the late 90s, search engines like Google started to introduce new possibilities to the internet. This enabled websites to become more interactive. This iteration of web technologies introduced much more improved and sophisticated user interfaces that were much more interactive and immersive. Now, we could build actual interactive applications instead of just displaying content online. Social networking and ecommerce exploded thanks to these new possibilities and this era of the web can be defined as Web 2.0.
The increased focus on user-generated content meant that Web 2.0 was less about observation and more about participation. Naturally, Web 2.0 content caused a huge increase in data produced and stored on the internet, which introduced completely new business models. Those that were quick enough to capture this valuable data and monetize it profited significantly.
The problem with the first two iterations of the internet however was that they were very dependent on third parties and third party service. This meant that personal data, which was the most valuable digital currency of the Web 1.0 and 2.0 eras, was fully in the control of the centralized entities that stored it. This meant that users of these technologies were essentially treated as products. This caused tremendous backlash as users felt manipulated and as personal data got breached.
Now, we’ve entered the Web 3.0 era. This iteration of the internet can be described as the “decentralized internet”. With Web3 technologies, there aren’t any centralized authorities or entities who can block, control or deny access. Web3 is fully decentralized. Because modern blockchains, the infrastructure that powers this technology, are turing-complete, pretty much any application or service imaginable can be programmable. And thanks to the introduction of blockchains, most Web3 interactions and transactions benefit with regards to security, speed and cost.
And then there were blockchains…
The first blockchains enabled the facilitation of basic financial transactions without the need for intermediaries. Essentially, this meant that we could transfer data securely without centralized entities needing to be involved. While this might not seem so impressive now, at the time this was revolutionary.
The problem with the first iteration of blockchain technology however was that there was a serious lack of scalability, transaction speed was low and there were significantly high transaction costs. These issues partnered with the lack of programmability and the inefficient energy consensus protocols meant that in its current state, blockchain technology was far from being widely adopted.
But even as blockchain technology improved, there were still several issues with the fundamental technology. Ethereum, which was the first blockchain network to introduce the concept of Layer-1 decentralized applications, thanks to smart contracts, still suffered with tremendous scalability issues. And while Ethereum competitors could solve the scalability issue, they lacked immensely in decentralization and security.
This problem is known as the blockchain trilemma. This is the issue where blockchain networks struggle to find a balance between scalability, security and decentralization. On top of that, these blockchain functioned on domain specific languages, which introduced barriers to entry for developers that were only familiar with different, general-purpose programming languages. This meant that in some cases, developers could not viably build decentralized applications on certain blockchain networks.
So while modern blockchains solved many problems that plagued their predecessors, most notably improving consensus mechanisms and increasing scalability, they still weren’t viable options for mass adoption.
So, let’s introduce Gear…
Gear is a smart contract platform that allows anyone to develop and deploy a dApp in a decentralized network as well as in the Polkadot ecosystem, just like on Layer-1 blockchain networks, but better!
With Gear, all smart contracts are WebAssembly programs that are compiled from different programming languages such as Rust, C, C++ and others. This lowers the barrier to entry for developers that are not so familiar with blockchain development because they can build dApps in programming languages that they are more familiar with. This will help introduce a whole heap of amazing developers to the Web3 industry! On top of that, WebAssembly enables near-native code execution speed when applications run in browsers, which’ll help to improve user experience when dealing with decentralized applications.
In addition, for smart contract interactions, Gear uses the actor model for communications approach, which is parallelizable and shardable by design. This enables the utilization of various language constructs for asynchronous programming, which significantly streamlines the asynchronous processing of transactions. This enables the running of dApps that support business logic of any project in the decentralized Gear network very, very quickly.
On top of that, because Gear will be a Polkadot parachain, integrating with the Polkadot network will enable efficient and revolutionary cross-chain communication and allow developers to deploy their applications in one of the most promising ecosystems in the most time and cost effective manner possible.
Essentially, the use of WebAssembly means that applications that deploy on Gear can be written in most general-purpose programming languages and that they’ll be able to run at near native speed. In addition to improving user experience, this will also contribute to increasing transaction throughput and reducing transaction costs. Parallelizable architecture will further contribute to increased speed and the actor model for message-passing communications will keep the network clear, efficient and secure. These two unique features ensure that transactions occur at the highest of speeds, resulting in the cheapest transaction costs. As Gear will be a Polkadot and Kusama parachian, applications that deploy on Gear will also have access to the benefits that comes with being a Polkadot parachain, which’ll mean that developers can tap into one of the most emerging and promising technologies in the world.