Review: The Billion User Table
Here’s a review and short contribution to the article and challenge on 1729.com.
You can find said article here. Its a short 10 minute read about how a smart contract platform can level the playing field for new startups as user onboarding is now trivial.
We take it for granted that we can interact easily with the services that we are used to. Social login allowed countless startups to utilise existing social network activity to onboard new users at the price of giving data to these social network operators.
Enter the world computer, Ethereum. In this case, we took it for granted that we could create an ethereum address and immediately interact with any DApp in the universe. Let’s take a look.
Ethereum has an incredible dominance in the blockchain space for DApps because of its first mover advantage. This graph has no sign of slowing down. Each address is unique to the user and does not rely on a pact with a social network operator.
What is this? Nobody can tell simply by looking at the address. Look it up however, and it is immediately evident it is WETH’s contract.
How about this? It works exactly like a typical web address. In fact, you could even customise it to be a vanity address like your_name.eth.
A domain service (Ethereum Name Service in this case) would let users keep a public address that’s more human readable for the rest of us.
Every web application, from the most embryonic MVP all the way up to Google, has a table called users (very few apps might give it a different name) whose job it is to hold the information that lets users log into and use the software — email address or phone number and (encrypted) password are the basic rows you’ll find in this table, but you also find a ton more proprietary data in there and in linked tables.
In this case, the entire Ethereum network is your user table. Stored in what is called a Merkle-Patricia tree.
This would make the state of your addresses immutable because of how the data is stored. Change one hash and the whole tree changes. This prevents horrific situations such as this:
And even worse, this:
Because it is transparent anyone can see how the transactions have flowed.
If anything were to happen to LinkedIn or to its internal assessment of the value of providing public endorsement data on-chain, the public would still have unfettered, permanent access to the old data.
Furthermore, even if any one app goes down, everyone’s data and prior interactions with said app is still safe. Auditors rejoice! You don’t have to trawl through thousand of e-mail like the infamous Enron scandal.
People underestimate the power of a decentralised computing platform. Rather than mangling multiple types of sign-in and sign-on solutions, you can have a single universal solution that is not only secure and tamper-proof but it truly belongs to you.
No need to sell your soul to social network operators to prove that you exist, get yourself verified through apps such as BrightID and voila you’re no longer a bot.