If you are a frequent user of the New York Times, CNN, Pinterest, Reddit, Twitch, Spotify and many others, you may have been unable to access or use these services for hours on June 8. If this is the first time you are hearing this, and curious about what happened google fastly internet outage and you’ll get plenty of coverage on what happened.
Our point of coverage and relevance to lidonation is to underscore one of the premise of blockchain technology. If you live in many parts of Asia, many parts of Europe, the US or Canada, Australia, or some parts of South America, you might have a understandably untrue idea about the internet. People in these areas seemingly wake up and go to sleep with the internet, powering just about aspect of theirs lives: interfacing with governments, entertainment, work, relationships, and health care to name a few. Because of this ubiquity, many of us see the internet as this resilient global always on thing that no one controls. The June 8 outage is reminder that not only is the internet not very resilient, but it is also highly centralized and controlled by a select few.
A brief definition of the internet
The internet is essentially a collection of computer hardware and network services. These services are managed and controlled by different bodies, often for profit companies, all incentivised to work together with the goal of making money. Some of the services include things like, Network Access Points (NAP), Point of Presence (POP), Routers, Switches, Domain Name Service (DNS), Actual physical Cables, Open Source Software Repositories, and Content Delivery Networks (CDN). You don’t neccessarily have to know what these things are or what they do, only that each thing is controlled by a relatively small group of people. More often than not, a small to medium failure of any of these systems can cause a chain reaction leading to failures in other systems, resulting in June 8. According to data from spglobal.com significant parts of the global internet was disrupted over 350 times, just in January and February of this year.
One premise of blockchain technology
One of the sell of blockchain technology is the idea of permisionless decentralization. This idea is basically saying that hey, lets do away with having only a few top companies hold the right to provide a particular service for the entire world. Instead lets do this:
- Lets think of all the rules before hand
- Put all that rules into computer code
- make the code public so anyone can download it
- Let anyone, whether you are a company or college student, take that code, and install it on a computer system.
- Connect their system to other systems around the world to provide the global service
- Get paid
This is an oversimplification and we skipped a lot of details. For example, it’s not possible to change the code and connect it to the network, the other computers on the network will know refuse to work with computer with different code. Another skipped part is how the code is updated. Blockchain technologies will often provide a way for every computer on the network vote and accept changes to the code or rules, so if we forget to put something in the rule ahead of time, we can go back and change it. However, we have to tell everyone and either everyone or a super majority have to agree.
This is not to say, internet is bad blockchain is good. Rather, internete is good, lets use the blockchain to make it better. In many ways it’s good that the internet keeps failing, hopefully this will lead to the rapid spread and eventual ubiquity of blockchain technologies making everything we care about more secure and actually decentralized.