I am less interested (capable) with the technical side, than the social - but Hardfork 26 (scheduled for the end of July according to @blocktrades) is going to be highly disruptive and I am not sure how the average user is going to get disrupted yet, or if they will notice at all.
It is exciting!
For example, over the last 3 years, Custom JSON transactions have exploded thanks to @splinterlands changing their codes to improve game experience, as Custom JSONs allow for the "hiding" of information on the open blockchain, among many other things. Other games have followed suit, but if you have a look at the https://hiveuprss.github.io/hiveisbeautiful/ site, you will see just how large of a load Splinterlands puts on the transactions. There is a new JSON parser that lightens this load on the nodes substantially, which means that there is additional scalability for development.
In general, there are a mass of optimization codes being implemented that will improve the performance and hopefully reliability of running nodes, as well as lower the performance requirements, reducing the cost to fire additional nodes up, or scaling back some of the more expensive ones to a less heavy performer. While I believe that the average user isn't going to see much of a difference here in their daily usage, this creates a strong foundation to build from, which will impact on the average user.
HF26 - the HAF fork
HAF is an application framework for creating highly scalable decentralized apps that operate on the Hive blockchain-based network. With HAF, data from the blockchain network are pushed into a SQL database (PostgreSQL) for easy consumption by HAF apps. This means that HAF-based apps can easily be designed and maintained by database programmers with no previous experience with blockchain-based programming. Stolen from BT here
It is that last sentence that I am hoping will be cause for disruption, that developers with "no previous experience with blockchain-based programming" will be able to build easily and quickly for the Hive blockchain. This has the potential to close "the gap" heavily between Web2 and Web3 development processes and in so doing, welcomes in a lot of "legacy" developers into the Web3 mix.
By lowering the barriers to entry into development, there is a far greater potential that developers will start "hobbying" on Hive, building and tinkering with their new applications here instead. This means that there is the potential for more Hive integrated development to take place and, get pushed out into the the application marketplaces. Pair this with the potential for funding or partial funding incentive through the Decentralized Hive Fund (DHF) that can support proposals, and there is additional potential to attract developers to build.
A week back I wrote a post talking a little about the Changing Meta of Splinterlands. In gaming, it is generally limited to the optimization of "how best to play to win" the game itself, but this is Web3, not traditional gaming. So, while introducing new cards and abilities disrupts the gameplay, the "full stack of gameplay" is disrupted with any change that shifts the economics of the game. For example in the case of Splinterlands, the introduction of rentals, the introduction of additional tokens, the way the rewards mechanisms work, the print volumes, the ability to stake, LAND considerations, VC investment levels.. (the list goes on) all change the meta of the entire experience. The "best way to play to win" depends on which game you are playing in the Splinterlands economy.
With the release of every Hardfork, the meta on Hive changes. For instance, the dissolution of the majority of Bidbot markets was brought on through changes in the code known as the "economic Improvement Proposal" (EIP) that altered the reward structure splits, added a slight curve and encouraged the use of downvotes, by removing the cost of 2.5 of them a day. While none of these things were enormous changes, what they did do is change the behavior of users and through this shifting of "current chain culture", the profits from the Bidbots quickly disappeared, by introducing more risk of usage and, lowering the return for delegators. The last Hardfork built further on this by removing that curve and introducing voting windows that made automated voting no more lucrative than manual.
The HF26 release is looking to do the same, where there could be a significant change in "current culture" on the development side of the equation, incentivizing application growth and experimentation. I say current culture because the culture is always changing and there are always many sub-cultures in play concurrently. But, "code is law" at the point that code is in effect, but that code can change over time. This hardfork will change the code and I am quite certain that in due course, exploits will be found that will have negative implications on the chain and community in some way. but, this is the strength of decentralized development, which means that once that happens, it is up to the community to discuss, combat and build changes to the code. This is the "antifragility" development process of blockchains in effect.
Essentially, what is happening through HF26 is a reimagining of the code in ways that will improve performance and scalability of the blockchain. But, this isn't just good for node operators, because it simultaneously makes it far easier for developers to build applications and gives them a wider and more robust set of tools to work with, lowering the "cost" of development, at least mentally. Once developers are enthusiastic about building, it is very difficult to predict exactly what they are going to develop, but I would suspect that for the most part, it will be a closing of that gap between Web2 applications and Web3.
Currently, Web2 has a huge centralized advantage over Web3 development because of toolset and control, but through a process akin to osmosis, as the membrane between 2 and 3 becomes more porous, that toolset is going to leak into the Web3 environment for usage. HAF and HF26 is part of this process, as it pokes a few more holes in the membrane, giving gateways for the high concentration toolkit to leak through into where there is a low concentration. This improves the equalization of the sides and the legacy advantages of Web2 start to lessen, but due to the nature of Web3, the legacy system is unable to utilize the advantages Web3 offers natively. This means that eventually, Web3's toolkit isn't just on par with Web2, it is fuller and due to the incentives, the advantages to build and interact on Web3 will become stark in contrast.
All of this takes time to develop and just like the move from combustion to electric cars, there is a lot of infrastructure considerations involved. However, similarly, if you are looking for speed off the line, you are going to have to spend a pretty penny on a supercar to have a combustion engine beat an electric family sedan. Right now, the mainstream are still looking at Web3 like an oddity or a fad, judging it on the current capabilities, while forgetting that the same people looked at electric cars, social media, digital cameras, smart phones and the internet itself in the same way;
It will never be as good. It will never be widely adopted. It will never last.
Developers have proven them wrong every time so far, why would this time be any different?
[ Gen1: Hive ]
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