What Happens When You Compare Blockchains to Cities?

Netta Korin
Netta Korin

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3 months ago

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Last month Haseeb Qureshi wrote an innovative blog on blockchain, making the analogy that rather than networks, blockchains should be thought of as cities. In this way there is no winner takes all scenario, rather each blockchain has s speciality with a thriving community around it. For example - he compares Ethereum to New York City - congested and slow and comfortable for the high net worth. Solana is LA - massive territory but less expensive than NYC, where NFT makers can thrive. I often write about other projects or programs. Today I would like to write about Orbs in the context of Haseeb's analogy - how can we describe our own blockchain?

My take on Haseeb's metaphor is that L1 blockchain protocols are cities in the sense that they provide the fundamental infrastructure for everything. Imagine a new settlement. At first it is just a few houses, connected by dirt roads. As time goes on, more houses and public buildings are built to provide the growing population with basic civil services such as health, education, town administration etc, and this little settlement evolves into a small town where people live and work. In a sense, any small town or village is identical to the world's largest metropolitan areas (only smaller), i.e. they are places in which people live, work, kids go to school, and so on. In blockchain, what matters most is a single concept - security. The base layer network must be deployed over as many independent nodes as possible, so that the consensus mechanism will be as decentralized and distributed, thus will hold the most confidence of users. This is what causes a blockchain to be regarded as the most secure to store value, whether in total market cap or in total value locked (TVL) of DeFi assets. It is no surprise then that 7 of the top 10 tokens with the largest market cap (as of writing these lines) are L1 protocols, while the remaining 3 are the largest stablecoins.

As our town develops into a city, both in size and population, it requires a new set of utilities and services to maintain growth. Without these services, the town would naturally split into multiple new smaller towns. For example, as people live farther and farther from the town's commercial center it takes them longer to commute. Unless the city provides an efficient public transportation system, fewer people could come to work in the morning and leave in the afternoon. Instead they will look for an alternative commercial center, closer to their home. However, an effective transportation system solves this problem, thus the commercial center of our city can scale to regional importance, rather than local. The example Qureshi uses is building skyscrapers in cities to maximize land, a scarce resource. The blockchain analogy is of course L2 protocols that add scalability to L1 infrastructure. One way to do it is introducing side chains, in which transaction speed is significantly higher, while cost is substantially lower. Thus, while parties may generate thousands of transactions on the L2 protocol, it would suffice to notarize only the bottom on the L1 protocol. Just as a single subway car can take at least 50 commuters, saving the space and pollution of 50 cars, and just as a piece of land can be used to build a skyscraper instead of a one story building.

While the current stack, i.e. the combination of L1 & L2 protocols, provides security and scalability, most apps still maximize their value add. That is exactly why a new layer is required, or L3. Finally we arrive at where Orbs fits in this metaphor. Orbs 3.0 is an L3 blockchain protocol, which aims to allow new applications to extract their value. This concept was first introduced by my co-founder in a previous blog post. The best example is Open DeFi Notification Protocol powered by Orbs, which was recently launched. This protocol provides applications and their users with decentralized and free mobile notifications for crucial on-chain events, e.g. price movements, near liquidation events, changes in smart contracts and many others. Naturally, this is merely a live example of how L3 can be utilized to assist applications in growing, maximizing their reach and optimizing their added value.

Let us return to our city metaphor and see how we can relate it to Orbs: As the city further grows, so does the variety of new services it offers. Now that there are sufficient services for people who live outside the city to commute easily and companies can grow faster, they are ready to consume a new set of services and products that enable them to accelerate their growth even further. Orbs is part of the acceleration and efficiency creation, with a focus on DeFi and Web 3.0 applications. Notifications, yield farming - these are first steps in our focus on financial efficiencies.  Perhaps it is due to my many years of running hedge funds, but in Haseeb's analogy I am inspired to envision Orbs as the building blocks of a Wall Street for his cities - a decentralized Wall Street of course. I know, I know, blockchains are not really cities, and all this is obviously just a metaphor, but with the growth of Web 3.0, DeFi and the Metaverse, we believe blockchains will become an increasingly integral part of our lives. With that in mind, the Orbs team is working hard to position Orbs as an important utility layer, generating value creation and enhancing experiences, as part of our digital decentralized future. In my nearly five year involvement with this project, I have never been more excited about our team or more confident about our future than I am today.

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