Is Bitcoin in 2020 Really Like the Early Internet?

Published on by Coindesk | Published on

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It's a cliche at this point to compare bitcoin to the "Early days of the internet," since they are both examples of emerging technologies.

If we work with a vague definition of the World Wide Web going live in 1991, then within the first decade that ecosystem grew faster and had more demand for compliant use cases than bitcoin arguably has today, one decade in.

In 1994, the New York Times reported that companies were "Rushing" to set up shop via the World Wide Web, although the user experience was still "Slow" and "Crude." Just like blockchain technologists, early internet companies ran into scaling issues.

Such experiments are a far cry from the "Mainstream adoption" many fans predict bitcoin will undergo in becoming a global, self-sustaining currency.

Bitcoin may be behind the internet's timeline in terms of commercial use cases, but it has already achieved comparable social functions.

According to Allen, who focused earlier in his career on core internet protocols, the internet was also designed to offer more freedom of choice to the users - even though, through big-tech consolidation, the industry eventually failed to reach that vision.

Zcash co-creator and Electric Coin Company CEO Zooko Wilcox agreed that the early software projects he worked on were supposed to offer "Freedom" and "End wars," because people would just talk things out over the internet.

Marco Peereboom, a Dell alumnus and Linux veteran who is also currently the Decred community's New Systems Development Lead, agreed with Allen that the internet was built by idealistic young men who wanted to "Uplift humanity."

"The amount of snooping the government is doing, I didn't anticipate. More cryptography early on would have done the internet a lot of good, and more advocacy as well."

"Until the internet moves away from the ad-sponsored model, it will only get worse," Peereboom said, referring to potential surveillance and corporate dominance via upcoming Web3 models.

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