How Ethereum Could Change the Way the Internet Works
Ethereum was launched just two years ago, on July 30, 2015, and in that time the fledgling cryptocurrency has taken the growing industry by storm. Not only has Ethereum's digital currency, Ether, grown in price by up to almost 40 times at its highest point earlier this year, but the Ethereum blockchain which undergirds the token has prompted massive shifts in the way that the crypto world operates. In the past year or so, initial coin offerings, or ICOs, have spun off as a result of Ethereum, generating more than $1 billion in funds for new startups via an innovative form of crowdsourced funding. And now, according to a report by Coin Telegraph, some analysts predict that Ethereum could even change the way that the Internet works.
Ethereum Nodes Proliferate Dramatically
Péter Szilágyi, team leader for Ethereum development, posted to Twitter recently, providing an image from Google Earth which shows the dramatic spread of Ethereum nodes all across the globe.
The tweet does not even likely include all of the nodes and it may not be entirely accurate, as Szilágyi converted ethernodes.org's Internet Protocol (IP) addresses into specific geographic locations before plotting them on Google Earth maps. Nonetheless, the image reveals a great deal about the spread of Ether, as well as for the potential inherent in the Ethereum network to create a new global internet. How could this work, exactly? One possible realization is that smart contracts, the basic protocols making up the work of the network, are operable in many ways without the use of external overseers. This has led some analysts to speculate that the Ethereum network could allow computer-to-computer communication that could be uniquely autonomous: a new kind of internet with all sorts of new possibilities.
Looking at Szilágyi's photos, it's relatively easy to tell where Ethereum is the most popular around the world based on the relative density of Ethereum nodes. There are substantially more Ethereum nodes in U.S. and the European Union areas at this time than there are in Asia and South America. However, Ether mining has spread dramatically into China and Japan, among other parts of the world, suggesting that there may be even more nodes to come.
Node Density and Connectivity
Szilágyi added that "node density seems to go hand in hand with connectivity, industrialization, and wealth. My best bet as to why the discrepancy is that running a full Ethereum node is resource intensive." Comparing the U.S. and the European Union, the two most densely-populated regions for Ethereum nodes, central Europe has the greater density levels. This is perhaps to be expected, as the central development team behind Ethereum is based in Europe. However, the growth of node density around the world suggests increasing connectivity and could even spawn a decentralized Internet based on the Ethereum blockchain. How exactly that might manifest, and precisely what it would mean for Ethereum's future, is difficult to say. Still, it seems likely that Ethereum will only continue to grow in importance, and that it may even topple Bitcoin as the most successful cryptocurrency around the world.