Walter Isaacson wrote a blog post last week suggesting that the Internet is broken and outlining how he would fix it. I think that most of his suggestions are currently being built using blockchain technologies. Here is his list (in italics) and my reactions to it.
1) Create a system that enables content producers to negotiate with aggregators and search engines to get a royalty whenever their content is used, like ASCAP has negotiated for public performances and radio airings of its members’ works.
While not “a system to negotiate”, services like our portfolio company Mediachain‘s platform will provide much of the underlying infrastructure for this to happen.
2) Embed a simple digital wallet and currency for quick and easy small payments for songs, blogs, articles, and whatever other digital content is for sale.
3) Encode emails with an authenticated return or originating address.
While not blockchain based, standards like DKIM and SPF in the email sector provide some of this today. I am also excited about a blockchain based identity later like the one being built by our portfolio company Blockstack.
4) Enforce critical properties and security at the lowest levels of the system possible, such as in the hardware or in the programming language, instead of leaving it to programmers to incorporate security into every line of code they write.
Blockchain based applications can use the underlying security of the blockchain (using sophisticated cryptography) to achieve higher levels of security in their applications.
5) Build chips and machines that update the notion of an internet packet. For those who want, their packets could be encoded or tagged with metadata that describe what they contain and give the rules for how it can be used.
I am not sure you would need a chip or a machine to do this.
The bottom line for me is that we don’t need to build a new Internet to fix the issues Walter articulates in his blog post. We just need to continue to build new capabilities on top of our existing Internet. And, right now, the biggest potential contributor to those new capabilities is the blockchain.