Predictions about our near future are mixed and varied. So many of us have a lot to say about what’s coming next. Some commentators believe general-purpose blockchains will rule in all spheres. They predict the likes of Ethereum, Avalanche, Cardano, and Solana will spearhead this advancement even in financial, social, and marketplace spaces on the internet. One matter dampens the likelihood of this possibility. This is that of on-chain storage.

The Thing about General-Purpose Blockchains

Ethereum and other general-purpose blockchains have done a great job in interoperability with storage light applications such as decentralized finance. However, these blockchains fall short at scalability when it comes to handling storage-heavy applications. Such applications include social media and marketplace applications.

As a result of this limitation, the world will need innovations. This innovation by way of architecture will be needed to push aside web 2.0 and usher in web 3.

To Infinity and beyond

Solana, Ethereum, Cardano, Solana, Avalanche, and all the other general-purpose blockchains available today were not for the limitations of our present-day type of applications. Applications with set limitations. These limitations that apply to the amount of data or state of user sessions are known variables that software engineers always put into account, in particular, because these resources are not inexhaustible.

State Augmented vs State Neutral applications

Social media applications present a different challenge. The data that is created by users is indefinite and unpredictable, in some cases. We expect users to create their accounts, set up their user profiles, submit a post or two. We expect them to interact with other users on the platform and do several other tasks that they may see fit. Social media apps are therefore state-augmenting. Unlike financial applications for example. Those are state-neutral. Decentralized finance is a prime example of this difference. Regardless of the number of transactions users make, the volume of stored data is still just a limited amount of data, especially displaying the total balances of each user.

The Underestimated Gap

With social media applications that integrate blockchain technology have double duties. These social media applications need to keep financial data and also keep data generated by users in their social networking activities.

For social media applications and other applications that require state-augmentation, storage and indexing requirements are an important challenge to address. This will call for customized blockchains specifically for these types of applications. Decentralized Social (DeSo) is worth noting at this point, as a worthy example. The cost for maintaining state-augmented applications in the social media space can quickly become prohibitive because of the storage, index, and querying demands thereof.

Now, the costs for storage of 1GB in an on-chain state are different across providers. On top of that, it is anticipated that costs will only rise over time for these general-purpose blockchains were not designed for this type of storage demand. As a result of these limitations, many services are unable to jump on to the web 2.0 blockchain technology because the incremental costs are just too prohibitive. This is even if they use services like Arweave or Filecoin.

In further view, it is easy to see that this limitation was significantly under-anticipated when the infrastructure of general-purpose blockchains was being designed. With growing demands, this gap is blatantly obvious. It seems finite-state applications were the key focus from the get-go. Social media applications and marketplace applications were not considered as solutions that would need to work seamlessly over this architecture. Now this underestimation has brought us to this current predicament. Fast forward to the present day and here we are with an opportunity for further advancement approaching.

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