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The Decentralized Database Revolutionby@decentland
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The Decentralized Database Revolution

by Decent Land LabsSeptember 11th, 2023
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Decentralized databases are becoming the backbone of secure, scalable, and user-centric applications. Serverless computing and multi-chain authentications are revolutionizing decentralized databases.
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The world of web applications is rapidly undergoing a fundamental shift from web2 to web3 technologies, with decentralization and composability at the heart of this transformation.


For dApp developers, this shift is not just a trend but a necessity. Decentralized databases, exemplified by permanent storage solutions like Arweave are becoming the backbone of secure, scalable, and user-centric applications.

What Actually Is a Database?

Technically, a database is just an “organized set of data held in a computer.” In theory, this means that anything more structured than a pile of files on a disk somewhere can be called a database. In practice, it’s more specific than that.


Databases of course provide a place to put files, but most importantly, they provide tools to find the exact data an application needs. A schema plus a query layer. In this sense, Arweave itself is a database -- one big pool of data, searchable with GraphQL.


The catch is that in permissionless systems, it’s a matter of bottom-up standards, not top-down schemas. The Atomic Asset (SWS-1) and Asset Discoverability (ANS-110) standards both specify ways to make Arweave data easy to find and use in any application, promoting interoperability.


Database, find me 100 memes and funny blog posts on Arweave.

The Rise of Decentralized Databases

Censorship, rent-seeking, data availability problems. Decentralized databases have emerged as the antidote to these pitfalls of centralization. They offer unparalleled security, data immutability, and user sovereignty. Arweave, for instance, epitomizes this with its "pay once, store forever" model, making it a cost-effective and pro-user solution for permanent dApp state storage.


In the Arweave ecosystem alone, teams at Kwil, WeaveDB, HollowDB, Glacier, and more are working to provide developers with a way to easily use and query Arweave with familiar syntax.

A small section of the Community Labs Arweave ecosystem map (https://twitter.com/CommunityLabs/status/1696630131937230873/photo/1)

Empowering dApp Developers

Security and Immutability

The decentralized nature of these databases ensures that once data is stored, it becomes immutable. This is ideal for applications requiring secure, tamper-proof systems.

Scalability and Flexibility

Decentralized databases scale effortlessly with your application. The architecture of decentralized databases ensures data availability even if some nodes go offline, offering a reliable and scalable solution.

User-Centric Design

Decentralized databases give users unprecedented control over their data. It’s being stored with whatever database layer you choose, but it’s also there forever on Arweave, and no one can take that away. A compelling feature for dApps aiming to be more user-centric via data portability.

Cost Efficiency

The absence of central servers means no regular maintenance or need to provision infrastructure, reducing operational costs.

The Evolution From Centralization

In the Web2 era, centralized databases were the go-to solution for data storage and management. While they offered a controlled environment, their limitations were glaring: susceptibility to hacks, high maintenance costs, and being a single point of failure.


However, certain centralized elements, such as APIs and caching layers, still hold value and have been integrated into this new generation of databases.

The Hybrid Future: Best of Both Worlds

While decentralization offers numerous advantages, a balanced approach that incorporates elements of centralization can be incredibly powerful. After all, the blockchain trilemma states that a system weighted towards decentralization and security will sacrifice scalability.


Pick two

Base layer Arweave is both secure and decentralized, but without centralized helpers (caches, gateway magic, APIs, etc.) databases that leverage it can’t provide the experience users or developers have grown to demand -- we’re accustomed to web2.


What was once considered blazingly fast now just works™, and anything less capable isn’t an acceptable choice for most developers.


This hybrid model -- a decentralized base with centralized, hot-swappable helper layers -- acts as a bridge between what web2 expects and what web3 enables.

Real 🌏 Impact

Decentralized databases are making significant inroads in various sectors, from supply chain management and healthcare to financial services. Arweave's permanence is particularly useful in applications requiring long-term data availability.


“WeaveDB can replace centralized databases in all cases,” says LensPlay founder

Sahil Kakwani. “It's a standout choice for applications requiring decentralization, resilience, and high performance.”


In another WeaveDB user interview, Tepe founder Harang Ju noted that decentralized solutions “will easily replace traditional centralized databases in places where transparency and openness are key.”


While building the MEM explorer, the Decent Land Labs team implemented Kwil as an alternative to directly querying MEM interactions from the Arweave L1 chain. Compared to the GraphQL option, which takes several seconds, Kwil is able to return data almost instantly.


While mainstream adoption may be a little while down the road, essential components are being built and battle-tested in preparation.

Where We Stand…

At Decent Land Labs, we believe in user sovereignty, data composability, and the storage-based computing paradigm. The future is not just decentralized, it’s also hybrid, leveraging the strengths of both centralization to create highly capable, scalable, and interoperable systems with a strong foundation.


By embracing this shift and leveraging hybrid solutions along with the data permanence decentralization offers, developers are not just following a trend; they are preparing themselves for the future. Check out docs.mem.tech for more insight on how to integrate your dApps today!


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