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WhatsApp crash: Are decentralized blockchain messengers a real alternative?
Centralized communication apps share one crucial feature: They crash often. Can decentralization offer a solution?
WhatsApp embodies the qualities of a centralized mindset perfectly: It has mainstream reach, an industry giant backs it and despite nearly one-third of the planet using it, people have absolutely no say over the final product.
When a product is controlled and managed by a central entity, it tends to follow certain processes during its lifecycle. Someone has to shoulder full responsibility for the various aspects of the centralized product.
The massive scale of the product turns even tiny updates into a chaos of human errors, database issues and not having enough time to test the version before pushing out the update to meet stakeholder expectations. Coupled with the numerous cyber attacks on the infrastructure itself, the more the service is centralized and managed by a single entity, the more the “usual suspects of failure” fill the room.
Communication-focused decentralized apps (DApps), on the other hand, provide anti-fragile systems, co-founder and CEO of Web3 service provider Heirloom Nick Dazè told Cointelegraph. He said that decentralized messengers get stronger with every user onboarded because they essentially function as “nodes” that keep the system functioning properly.
“The key difference is that there is not one single point of failure,” Dazè stated, likening it to a balloon that is compressed on one part, which becomes geometrically smaller while still containing the air from the compressed section: “All of the air still exists. It is just pushed to a different section of the balloon.”
Of course, decentralized apps come with their own set of challenges, and one of them is scaling. DApps can’t compete with centralized services without being able to take on a billion-level user base, but Dazè believes DApps can overcome scaling issues by answering two questions: “Where does all of this data ‘live?’” and “How do we reduce network spam?”
Addressing the first issue, Dazè sees public key-based addressing as a decent solution, “As it serves as a limiting function on the amount of data necessary to handle.” Regarding the second issue, Dazè said that disincentives for spam must be created, accompanied by Captcha servers.