Does Web3 infrastructure even matter if there are no apps?

Does Web3 infrastructure even matter if there are no apps?

In the Web 3.0 community, people often say we're in an infrastructure phase. They think the most important thing now is to build better basic tools for blockchains, like chains, ways to work together, and user-friendly software for accessing them. The idea is that once we have these tools, it'll be easier to make and use apps on blockchains.

But when we talk to the folks building this infrastructure, they say the hardest part is getting other developers to actually make apps with it. This seems even because we're really in an infrastructure phase, right?

We guess that things aren't happening the way people think. We're not just focusing on infrastructure; we're in a cycle where apps and infrastructure drive each other forward. History shows that new technologies usually start with apps being made, which then leads to building the tools and systems to support them. It's not like we build all the infrastructure first and then start making apps.

One reason this is a big deal is because everyone knows that the most valuable parts of the internet often become big platforms, like Facebook.

Understanding the Cycle of App-Inspired Infrastructure Evolution

First, new ideas for apps spark the creation of the tools and systems needed to support them. Then, those tools and systems make it easier to develop similar apps and to get more people using them.

Think about it like this: online courses and e-learning platforms were developed before the establishment of learning management systems (LMS) like Moodle and Canvas. While online courses can exist independently, the adoption of LMS platforms made it easier for institutions to manage and deliver digital learning content, thus fueling the growth of online education.

This pattern repeats with technology like the internet. First, there were basic apps like messaging and email. Then, infrastructure like Ethernet and TCP/IP made these apps more accessible to everyone. Later, web portals like AOL led to the development of search engines and web browsers. As more complex apps like Napster and Gmail emerged, new infrastructure like programming languages and cloud services followed.

The same cycle is happening with mobile apps. Initially, popular apps focused on streaming video, which led to the creation of infrastructure for adding video to mobile apps more easily.

This pattern also holds true for Web 3.0. Bitcoin was the first major app, followed by platforms like Ethereum and tools like Coinbase and Metamask. As more crypto apps and dapps emerge, new infrastructure continues to develop. New apps inspire the creation of infrastructure, which then enables even more apps to be made. It's a continuous cycle of innovation and improvement.

Web3 infrastructure can still hold significance even without widely adopted apps. Here's why:

1. Foundation for Future Applications: While there might not be many applications currently built on Web3 infrastructure, having a robust foundation in place allows developers to innovate and build new decentralized applications (dApps) in the future. Web3 infrastructure provides the necessary tools, protocols, and frameworks for developers to create decentralized solutions, laying the groundwork for future applications.

2. Experimental Stage: The Web3 space is still relatively new and evolving. Many projects are in the experimental stage, and it takes time for developers to explore the possibilities and develop applications that effectively utilize Web3 technologies. Even though there may not be widespread adoption currently, the infrastructure is essential for experimentation and iteration toward more mature and useful applications.

3. Ecosystem Development: The presence of Web3 infrastructure contributes to the development of a vibrant ecosystem surrounding decentralized technologies. This ecosystem includes developers, entrepreneurs, investors, and enthusiasts who collaborate, exchange ideas, and contribute to the advancement of Web3. Even without mainstream applications, this ecosystem plays a crucial role in shaping the future of decentralized technologies.

4. Infrastructure for Decentralized Finance (DeFi): One area where Web3 infrastructure has seen significant adoption is in decentralized finance (DeFi). While DeFi platforms are applications themselves, they rely heavily on Web3 infrastructure such as blockchain networks, smart contracts, decentralized exchanges (DEXs), and decentralized finance protocols. The growth of DeFi demonstrates the importance of Web3 infrastructure in enabling new forms of financial services.

5. Long-Term Vision: Many proponents of Web3 have a long-term vision of a decentralized web that empowers users, fosters innovation, and promotes privacy and security. While this vision may not be fully realized yet, investing in Web3 infrastructure lays the groundwork for achieving this vision over time, even if it takes years for mainstream adoption to occur.

Conclusion

In conclusion, while the current state of Web3 infrastructure may seem underutilized, it is important to recognize its significance in driving innovation and laying the groundwork for future decentralized applications. The cycle of app-inspired infrastructure evolution highlights the interdependent relationship between apps and infrastructure, with each fuelling the other's growth.

Web3 infrastructure serves as a foundation for future applications, enables experimentation, contributes to the development of a vibrant ecosystem, supports the growth of decentralized finance, and aligns with a long-term vision of a decentralized web. These factors underscore the importance of continued investment in Web3 infrastructure, even in the absence of widely adopted apps.

As history has shown, the development of new technologies often begins with basic tools and platforms, followed by the creation of more sophisticated applications that leverage these tools. The growth of Web3 infrastructure will likely follow a similar path, paving the way for a new generation of decentralized applications that transform industries and improve lives.