Decentralized networks typically follow one of three network architectures:

  • P2P.
    • BitTorrent1.
    • GUN.
    • IPFS-based databases - OrbitDB / 3Box.
    • Airdrop (unironically tho’ - P2P).
  • Federated hubs.
  • Cryptonetwork - cryptoeconomic incentives + P2P.
    • Bitcoin, Ethereum, blockchains.
    • The Graph.
    • Filecoin, Arweave.

1 BitTorrent pioneered tit-for-tat, arguably the first P2P network with an economic model. It stands out from the rest.

Comparing the architectures:

  Strengths Weaknesses Challenges
”run your own node”
- capture-resistant
- robust decentralization
- all nodes have same influence, no power law dominance
- unreliable performance

run your own node:
- unsuitable for mobile (battery)
- always online is difficult
Federated Hubs - performant
- better security
- easier upgrades
- susceptible to capture, censor
- owner is liable
- owner pays cost for users
- network of fiefdoms

- cross-hub bridging (cracks begin to show)
- scalability (Farcaster is doing some great work with CRDT’s here)
Cryptonetworks - capture-resistant
- performant
- zero liability
- better security (commercial incentive)
- upgrades require coordination - decentralization (e.g. AWS problem)

Where federations fail.

Some examples:

  • Email. It is practically impossible to run your own SMTP server nowadays. Every major email provider (Gmail, Microsoft, Yahoo) needs to curtail spam, and it is a system of behind-the-scenes agreements to get your email server accepted into this trusted network (read: your emails to regular people don’t go to spam).

My image Name

from @dystopiabreaker

Why cryptonetworks over hub models?

A cryptonetwork is a decentralized architecture which is capture-resistant, with more reliability than pure P2P due to money-at-stake, without the complexity and resource requirements of running your own node.

A good heuristic for technological progress is how much complexity is abstracted away. For example, building a web app doesn’t involve allocating and freeing memory, that’s abstracted away by the JavaScript VM. Likewise, when we think of the future of building capture-resistant social apps, will devs be building their own database networks and indexers?

Why cryptonetworks over hub models?

  • It’s autonomous and on-demand.
    • An AI could command our services programmatically. Payment for services occurs solely through smart contracts.
  • Unlike BitTorrent/GunDB, no need to run your own node.
  • Unlike Federated model (Farcaster, Matrix), the network is P2P. Each node has roughly the same influence, there is no power law dominance.
  • Service level guarantees - queries per second, liveness.