One thing is for sure, there’s nothing permanent when it comes to the Internet. As the technology evolves, there are going to be changes of which the transition from centralized services on the internet to decentralized ones would be the most profound. We’re seeing Web 3 gradually becoming the focal point for new developments and this is set to be so for a long time because decentralization is an idea that’s exciting to be associated with.
Predicting a radically decentralized future, technology entrepreneur Balaji Srinivasan in his frequent postings on Twitter, suggests that crypto and decentralization will swallow the world. He might be proved right as more and more businesses and projects keep adopting Web 3 technology.
The chief adopter of the decentralization concept is blockchain technology and one tenet blockchain technology has always held strong is how decentralized it is. To know whether blockchains are as decentralized as they claim, we first need to understand what decentralization means.
What is decentralization?
Decentralization in blockchain refers to the transfer of decision making powers from a central body (organizations or individuals) to a distributed network. One of the main aims of decentralized technology is to reduce the amount of trust that is needed by participants in a transaction and to reduce their ability to exert influence and control in ways that might affect the functionality of a network negatively.
Every blockchain protocol, including dApps and Decentralized Autonomous Organizations (DAOs), adopts different levels of decentralization. This is to ensure that decision making does not rest with one person. In a DAO for example, various components make up the different stages of decentralization. The community is carried along in the governance and decision-making processes. Community members have a say on what direction the community goes in and they can chip in their ideas and thoughts through votes or proposals. Smart contracts and third-party services that provide them may be partly decentralized or fully centralized, depending on the community. But what happens when the decentralization ethos of a blockchain project or community is broken. A perfect example to understand this is the recent crash of the Solana blockchain that saw transactions paused for 17 hours.
Solana, a high-performance blockchain that is optimized for scalability currently hosts about 338 dApps on its network and has about $8.08 billion locked in its protocol. The blockchain recently became inoperable for over 17 hours and this caused the entire chain to be inactive for that period. Transactions and other on-chain activities couldn’t be completed and it caused a lot of worries. The crash meant that the protocols and projects who were relying on the blockchain for the execution of their transactions saw a 17-hour pause in their operations too.
What caused the Crash?
After preliminary investigations by Solana, the crash was a result of a denial of service attack. Grape Protocol had launched their Initial DEX Offering (IDO) on the Raydium network and this generated bot transactions that flooded the network —peaking at 400K TPS. Because Solana is only capable of handling 50K TPS, the system could not bear this large influx of transactions and this created a memory overflow.
Anyone can participate and carry out transactions on a ledger in a decentralized network. Blockchains are decentralized but there is a need to do more when it comes to fixing eventualities that might happen (like what happened with Solana). Mechanisms must be put in place to combat the vulnerabilities that will arise and ensure that transactions continue to be carried out smoothly and correctly the blockchain has come to be known for.