I appreciate the feedback received since my last post. During the Christmas break, I’ve had the time to reflect further on the above discussion.
In my initial post, I focused on retrieval markets for Radicle through incentivized seed nodes. I anticipated that after the release of Radicle 1.0, a global network of seeders would emerge to host and serve relevant content.
However, I thought that there may be a distinct market gap for Radicle users seeking a combination of the following attributes: high performance (minimal retrieval latency), availability, and censorship resistance.
Through one-on-one conversations with community members, it became clear that for individuals primarily concerned with censorship resistance, the unbeatable choice remains unstructured peer-to-peer networks coupled with self-hosting. Despite existing friction, this option offers the highest level of censorship resistance.
But for those seeking a blend of performance, availability, and censorship resistance, the landscape is significantly different. Let me elaborate further.
My primary question was whether there would be a market willing to pay for this combination of attributes. To explore this, I delved deeper into professional users, including traditional companies, app developers, and DAOs.
While my initial assumption was that many of these users would prefer dealing with a conventional company they can contact, I realized this might not always be the case. In the industry we operate in (crypto networks), my thoughts immediately turned to IPFS. What’s noteworthy about IPFS is the following: while not many individuals host personal websites on IPFS, IPFS has clearly achieved product-market fit with dApps, crypto protocols requiring metadata, and various crypto-related applications. On IPFS, most retrievals are handled by traditional centralized providers, though they are clearly exploring alternatives like Saturn due to the consequences of centralization and the market opportunity.
So, why do app developers use IPFS?
In our industry, most app developers highly value user data sovereignty, aim to avoid hosting user content in centralized databases to prevent their apps from being captured, and prioritize security. IPFS allows them to build applications while satisfying all three of these requirements, despite its limitations.
As users of IPFS ourselves (we extensively use IPFS for Drips and pay for a gateway for retrieval), the concern of relying on a 3rd party provider is always there. In addition, one significant drawback we encounter with IPFS is the inability to modify content once it’s published (e.g., a description on a Drip List). Users must publish a new content addressable link on IPFS and checkpoint it on the Ethereum main-net, which is prohibitively expensive. Generally, IPFS excels with static content but falls short compared to Radicle for dynamic content such as software artifacts. For example, an app developer could publish their web app as a radicle repo, and any seed node could offer to serve that repository on the web. This deserves a more detailed post, which I will share before the 1.0 launch.
Returning to my main point: assuming Radicle gains adoption as a decentralized solution for software hosting and software artefact distribution, then it’s only natural for demand for decentralized & performant retrieval to emerge from app developers. Think software artefacts, generic metadata (like the metadata we use on Drip Lists), or even more intriguing is to think about decentralized front-ends, a need that pretty much all crypto apps have/ are willing to pay for as @cloudhead pointed out to me!
I believe this presents an intriguing opportunity for Radworks to offer a decentralized network for retrieval of software artefacts. Of course, the next question is whether a decentralized retrieval service can compete with the likes of Cloudflare in terms of pricing and/or performance. But maybe that’s not even needed, as the blend of the three attributes I mention above make it unique enough. To me it feels that this is a very interesting opportunity for Radworks to explore.