When looking at the Web3 ecosystem as a whole, there are brilliant ideas and DAPPs: we have DEFI, NFTs, Private Smart Contracts, and more. We can notice that these are crypto-centric solutions built to solve crypto problems, and are best used by typical crypto users. While one could argue that some of these are onboarding new users to Web3/crypto, the end result is still the same: these applications are constrained to the crypto ecosystem only with little impact on our day-to-day life or real-world activities.
If we want to make an impact on the real world and onboard the next billion crypto users, we need to consider how we can impact these users without having to “onboard them to crypto”. We need to meet them where they are instead of onboarding them to our tools and ecosystem. We need to help them and improve their day-to-day activities, not try to convert them to new ways.
One could argue this is easier said than done, or that we simply lack the technology to do so. This is the reason for my post today. The pragmatism and pace of innovation in the Polkadot ecosystem, make it a unique place to explore the above and figure out how the work we all do can be put into the hands of the next billion users.
In fact, this is what we aim to solve with Nodle. We recently publicly release our work on Smart Missions: an innovative way to build Web3 DAPPs that interact with the real world through our network of smartphones. Indeed, smartphones are itinerant and have a plethora of sensors that are not present on traditional servers. DAPPs leveraging these properties can “sense” the real world and react to it. This opens a whole new category of Web3 DAPPs that intertwine with the real world: verifiable loyalty programs, geographic DAPPs, contextual applications, and more.
I’d love to receive some feedback from you all on not only Nodle’s work but also the problem raised. Do you see some potential solutions? Do you think this is a problem worth considering?
Here are my thoughts, I think it is worth restating that: We need more real-world applications
When looking at the Web3 ecosystem, it is made of blockchains and DAPPs mainly focused on DEFI, NFT collections and a suite of Smart Contracts.
We are now 12 years into the early adoption phase of crypto, given the relative stability of large blockchains ecosystems we can consider that we have reached a certain level of maturity.
It is time to bring adoption to a large number of regular users. To reach these users and mainstream adoption the UX needs to be frictionless; all the complex aspects of holding a crypto wallet should be running in the background of apps and services we use daily.
The pace of innovation and capabilities of the Polkadot ecosystem make it a unique place to figure out how the work we all do can be put into the hands of the developers that often haven’t touched web3 yet but build apps and services that are used by everyone.
The paper we released provides a way to build Web3 DAPPs that interact with the real world through a network of smartphones.
With 6.3 Billion active, smartphones have gained mainstream adoption and have a plethora of sensors, radios that are not present on traditional servers. DAPPs leveraging these properties can “sense” the real world and interact with it. This opens a whole new category of Web3 DAPPs: from proving participation at events, attendance at exams, geographic locations to developing loyalty programs, social networking DAPPs and proving the authenticity of media and contents.
I have been watching Web3 closely for years, and while it’s been super cool, it has never presented a breakout reason for normal users to adopt it. The reason has to be compelling, something so much better than what technologies are already in use that everyone wants to try it out. We have seen this over and over again – with Netflix and YouTube for online video/streaming, the iPod for online music (phase 1), then Spotify and Pandora (online music phase 2), the iPhone (smartphones), GoPro (sports cameras), and more. What Web3, NFTs, and distributed ledgers can bring is something that remains so incredibly rare – authenticity, proof, and truth. Every photo and video you take can be attributable to you and a specific location, and a specific time. What does that unlock? What if you can sign up to be a “street photographer” and receive assignments on the fly to cover breaking news – like maybe shots of an NBA playoff game? What if you could create royalty streams for sounds sampled from video captures? What if every time you were in a store, you could earn tokens by taking pictures of products and the store prices, or where the products were located and the condition of the display? Honestly, these may not be the best examples of ideas – but there has to be something that lights a fuse under people or businesses and pushes them to adopt Web3 because they see immediate value.
I agree, the next challenge for the community is democratization / reducing friction.
Technology is amazing but no one goes to a website or an iPhone app because it runs the latest database. They are looking for great experiences / value
Mobile is definitely the key to building a seamless experience of trust. How do we get from a couple of users to billions? And most importantly what can we do in the future that we cannot do today with existing technology.
Ai is a good example of that, no one cared about GPT but chat-GPT changed everything thanks to a more natural UX (and instruct-gpt) the same leap should happen in our communities.
Geographic airdrops in your examples looks like a great idea! Looking forward to get my free coffee
Real-world use cases are not just building what we do in Web2 in Web3 - to my mind that is a waste of time, effort and money.
To make this work you need to re-think from the ground up how you would build software making use of specific properties that only a blockchain and a p2p network can bring to solve problems that cannot be solved any other way.
The other aspect is that you should be prepared to face assumptions that you are building Web2 on Web3 - which is conceptually a bad idea - which can lead to your project getting sidelined, in favour of the sexy stuff like NFTs.
@chris you make very good points. To be clear, we are of course not suggesting building Web2 on Web3. The essence of my post is to suggest building Web3 DAPPs that impact the lives of their users in the real world. I can’t shake the feeling that as mainly technical builders in a technical world, we are building an alternative technocratic ecosystem if we focus too much on what we think is “sexy”. What is sexy may not be what has the biggest impact.
My main question would be about what might make a tangible impact in the real world. How can we better leverage the unique things we like in Web3 and leverage them to impact the world today? I am not talking about banking the unbanked, or empowering creators, can we have real-world use cases that are relevant to our daily lives? What else do we do in our daily lives could we revolutionize if we were to apply our own solutions to it?
Totally agree. If we can agree that creating DAPPs that impact our real lives in the real world is a valid goal, then we can discuss how to do so in a technical manner. This is something we tried to address with the Smart Missions paper - I know it is a bit long to read, happy to provide a summary if necessary.
The real world applications would rely on real world data. The challenge with bringing those data or proving any claim about them is that they are not like cryptographic or mathematical problems which can be proved solved and can be verified easily. However break throughs have only happened when some people took a challenge and tried to find a practical solution. I see the Smart Missions as an endeavour towards that real challenge. It turns out there are some solutions for at least a subset of practical use cases. Also there are some acceptable near solutions for some of the harder problems. I call this second category a near solution because one may argue they are not solved in strict theoretical senses. However, the real world life is also not reducible to a mathematical abstract. Things may work in real life based on our social constructs, fuzzy trusts and the interactions among us. So if for example a logic is break-able but the incentive for breaking is not high or the consequence of breaking is not huge or there is a decentralised dispute mechanism and etc, then that near solution could very well work for practical use cases and still benefit from the transparent and decentralised blockchain ecosystems. If Smart Mission achieves its mission for providing that innovative platform for inventors and ordinary people, would be a huge step forward.
Current implementations of web3 are not mobile friendly, nor accessible to people who are non-technical. There are billions of phones in use today and only a tiny fraction of those users have a wallet (<10%) Ease of use and a mobile first ethos will be essential. Its incredibly how much of web3 is really difficult to use on a phone.
We need to abstract away the “crypto” and focus on ease of use and core values of web3. Control over your data, and privacy are all things people can resonate with. We must distill these ideas and make them accessible without people having to understand Crypto curves, wallet connect, and backup phrases.
I really believe in the power of smartphones, and giving smart contract control to all the sensors and features of a phone. When building Mesh Networks in FireChat we realized that phones alone could build powerful data messaging networks. Phones have evolved exponentially since then, and most of our radios, compute, and sensors remain unused. Bringing smart contracts (which could normally only access the features of a server) into the hands of billions of people and devices will be transformative.
I think it’s a problem worth exploring.
You make a great point about making an impact for users instead of trying to onboard new users for the sake of onboarding them.
The Web3 ecosystem is currently facing a crisis of trust, due to the terrible events that it faced the past two years. It is not going to welcome new users thanks to a better user experience, or educating them. In fact, people started to use Web2 applications such as Wikipedia and Flickr without knowing that they were using Web2 services. They were contributing to those services without having heard of the user-generated content concept. They used those services because it was impacting their lives.
People will come to Web3 in mass because it is freedom technology allowing them to do things that they could never do before. For instance, I would love digging into use cases leveraging trust-less micro-transactions: people interacting with each other, providing value to each other without the need of a third party. The “micro” is important because for macro-transactions, it is already solved in Web2, and it is probably best to rely on a marketplace that manages issues between parties. But for micro-transactions, Web3 is the only viable solution. And those have not been explored yet.
And beyond people, we could have machines, i.e. smart agents running on smartphones interacting with each other and working together on behalf of their owners. All those agents need is a set of private/public keys, and a chain to record their exchange and agree on a contract. Those are exciting stuff that could never be done on the Web2 stack. It’s an exciting space to explore.
This enable a new category of web3 powered applications and makes many interesting ideas possible.
We definitely need to spend more time explorer on this area, building PoC and try things out. I am sure a lot of idea will end up not working due to practical reasons (e.g. unsound economic or security consideration) but we need to build & deploy them to validate the ideas and learn from those experiments.
This is a really interesting discussion.
The next blockchain phase is mass adoption.
The data blockchain can deal with is so limited because on-chain information is only verifiable.
If we bring off-chain data in this context “smartphones” data to on-chain, we can create a new category and blockchain provides benefits to the next billion crypto users.
I totally agree with this idea.
The most significant problem is how we bring off-chain data as verifiable.
Blockchain receives data through RPC, thus blockchain doesn’t know what kind of machine it interacts with.
Even it doesn’t know whether it’s the smartphone.
If malicious users behave like smartphones, the blockchain would be tricked and the token value would be zero.
I think that’s why any blockchain project can’t work in this area.
I would like to know how you verify and check the data from a smartphone.
Smart missions should be able to unlock the use cases you describe. Since it is a crypto ecosystem participants who decide to take on a mission can have a double incentive: the pure interest of the mission itself and the revenue or reward attached to completing synch mission which can be tokens or NFTs. I am particularly excited to this implemented in a way a user can create its own smart mission and assign its challenge/mission to another friend or group of friends.
A simple user experience that doesn’t require any technical knowledge is necessary to grow adoption.
Since you are talking about AI and chat, it is clear that enabling a similar interface to program a smart contract or a smart mission would be amazing.
I agree, IMO most of the crypto users still use crypto in a “wallet mode” - e.g. buy some, put it on your private wallet, and access it periodically. Mobile devices stand out in their ability to provide simple and UX friendly wallets, so it’s a good starting point. There is also stuff related to blockchain account abstractions (e.g. sign blockchain trx-es with your finger or face id) which can further simplify user experience.
Apart from that, I think its beneficial to analyse or think what users do mostly with their phones? My guess would be messengers and social apps like Instagram / Tik-Tok. So a good question of what can we offer users here in connection to their day-to-day mobile use-cases? as an example, I’ve recently seen some telegram bot allowing to transfer USDT using tg accounts, thats definitely opens up whole new level of web3 experience.
Simply creating an app that would reward users for their spatiotemporal and mobile device data, or for providing news / content on the go, or doing some google-streetview type of things, doesn’t seem to do the job (GeoGuessr and Pokemon GO didn’t get widespread adoption after all), since you have to “catch” user attention with your app/service and try to keep it afterwards. Users in general don’t like to do anything extra to get rewarded, they like watching short videos and messengers =)
I can see how making it easier to send tokens or USDt to any user can be a good use case. But I disagree on Pokémon Go, they have 400 million regular users, 8 times more than all active wallets combined.
I couldn’t agree more. It is important to prioritize simplicity and ease of use in the design of these dApps. The average smartphone user may not have a deep understanding of blockchain technology or the technical jargon that often comes with it. Therefore, the user experience should be seamless and intuitive, so that users do not even notice that they are using blockchain technology.
The average person does not spend a lot of time on their personal desktops/laptops, they spend enough time on a screen during their 9to5. I for myself use my smartphone for everything throughout the day and I assume that this applies to more people.
dApps need to be linked to a real world use case at some point to become part of the mainstream.
What needs to be done?
The majority of people spend their time on smartphones, so it’s essential to meet users where they are.
Investing in smartphone dApps is important for achieving mainstream adoption of blockchain technology.
The user experience should be a top priority in the design of smartphone dApps, including UX and UI development.
dApps must be designed with simplicity and ease of use in mind to create a seamless and intuitive experience.
Mainstream adoption of blockchain technology is not just about the technology itself but also how it is presented and experienced by the end-user.
So let’s get this done
WAGMI is the right mindset here. Let’s build and create together, to welcome every single one to our ecosystem.
This is a fantastic discussion and forgive me for coming at this from a totally newbie perspective but we are a new team to the ecosystem, so might have a slightly different take to most. Firstly, I think you should be a little more patient… what you have built is truly amazing and not only from a technical perspective… the culture is so supportive & non competitive. My background is web2 but a few years ago I saw the potential of web3 to solve so many real world problems, which led me to partner with my Co-founder at Xcavate.io to disrupt the real estate world… by solving two real world problems; 1. Easy access to Real estate development finance 2. Fractional ownership of real estate through NFTs. Our customers (real estate developers & real estate investors) are very keen to utilise the power of a trustless web3 system but clunky wallets are, I feel, one of the biggest barriers to adoption. Using any web3 dApp must be as easy as any web2 app… easy to follow steps that any non tech person with a phone can understand. The current wallets in the ecosystem while serving many dApp specific use cases do not meet (in my opinion) this basic UX need. I hope we can solve this together because once we get adoption of one use case, the cross fertilisation (due to the ease of XCM) will allow exponential growth for all of us.
Sorry to create two separate posts but I’ve just been reading about the Fearless wallet… it looks like a great mobile friendly wallet that is specifically designed for the whole dotsama ecosystem… it’s the best kept secret as I didn’t know anything about it until I noticed it’s been securing considerable grant amounts. It would be great if they are developing a SDK that can bolt on parachain specific functionality like KILT DIDs (saving teams having to develop their own)… what do others think?