Technological evolution and its impact on the human beings has been a debatable topic for ages. The technologies without which we cannot imagine our lives today have evolved from their basic states to what we know them today.For example, smartphones have brought a radical change to our work and personal lives. We see global nomads who are building out businesses from their smartphones, which is merely a decade old technology.
One such rising technology that holds the potential to create a more connected and better world is Blockchain – the digital ledger, that holds decentralized records of an unremittingly growing list of ordered records or blocks. Satoshi Nakamoto, who invented blockchain, is an unknown person or a group known by the pseudonym.
Blockchain saw its first application in the financial world as the technology behind Bitcoins. With time, it evolved and started finding usage in industries like healthcare too.
Deloitte conducted a data analysis of blockchain projects to understand its development and its ecosystem in an open-source environment. Using the metadata available on GitHub – the global collaboration platform, they came up with some useful insights on blockchain evolution and why blockchain is here to stay.
GitHub holds more than 68 million projects with nearly 24 million participants from across the globe, and this includes some important projects of the blockchain community as well.
The study reveals the brain behind blockchain, underlying programming, the organization of the entire network and communities of blockchain projects and developers.
Here are some of the important insights from the study:
- Open-Source provides the ideal place for the development of Blockchain
Open source software development platforms have been in realm since last 30 years. But, with some commercial entities placing high restrictions and license-based access to software code, we saw a dip in the open-source development.
However, the onset of disruptive era again fostered the development of a sharing economy, shifting many software development projects back to open-source ecosystem.
Open source is the ideal platform for blockchain development as it reduces the cost associated with arranging dedicated resources for software development.
- Number of Blockchain projects have grown significantly on GitHub, with nearly 27,000 projects in 2016.
The original core code that supported Bitcoin was published in April 2009. The study found that since the development of core code, the number of projects/repositories on GitHub related to blockchain has developed significantly, with more than 27,000 projects recorded in 2016.
The study also noted that organizations are increasingly developing blockchain projects. In 2017, they developed nearly 11 percent blockchain projects, as compared to 1 percent in 2010.
Some projects developed by organizations even helped in the development of new software platforms like Ethereum, Corda, Ripple, and Quorum, which can be used by developers to build applications. The study reported that an organizational project tends to be copied more frequently than those developed by individual users.
On being copied, the project along with its entire content becomes visible to the account that copied it, commonly known as citation network.
Organizations led projects are the backbone of most of the blockchain projects built on GitHub with, out of 20 most central projects, 18 being created and developed by organizations.
Thus, organizations tend to be dominating the development of blockchain as it appears to be more fruitful and purposeful as compared to individual participation.
- There are 772 different blockchain communities on GitHub
An open-source community is a group of developers who share common interests and takes part in developing the existing content. The Deloitte study on GitHub identified 772 different communities of blockchain on GitHub, where each community has developed through active collaboration between various projects.
In the blockchain sphere, the project communities consisted of nearly 25 projects. The study of communities reveals how projects have developed a specialization, enabling the development of new applications.
It is important for developers to pay attention to these communities, as many large projects are a result of strong community collaboration.
- Only 8 percent active projects identified
Most of the open-source projects are abandoned or are unable to achieve the desired results. The study found that blockchain projects also face this stark reality, with only 8 percent active projects that were updated at least once in last six months. However, organizational projects were an exception with 15 percent active projects.
The mortality of projects is a deciding factor in its centrality and the development of tools and other best practices. About 90 percent of GitHub projects become idle with an average life span of one year.
The study identified 11 variables that are associated with an inactive project, and suggested three considerable variables:
– The Project developed by individual users have a shorter lifespan and act as stand-alone blockchain applications instead of foundational projects.
– The concentration of contributions to a project has a significant effect on its mortality rate. The project with only one committer generating most of the content has higher mortality rate.
– Project with a large number of copies (forks) tends to survive longer as compared to those with fewer or no copies at all.
- While C++ is the most used language, Google’s Go is also gaining positive traction
C++ was identified as the most popular programming language used in most of the central repositories. C++ has been in use in the financial services industry for application development and is still the preferred language behind cryptocurrency projects.
The study further identified Google Go programming language originally developed in 2009 as the second largest language used for blockchain projects. While C++ is known for speed, memory management and reliability, Go brings simplicity and scalability required for the project development.
- San Francisco holds the largest number of project owners
The study revealed that most of the project owners and developers who start repositories, reside in North America or Europe and are largely concentrated in San Francisco, followed by London and New York – the traditional financial services hub.
The study found that the San Francisco based projects are diverse, including solutions for cryptocurrency wallets, exchange solutions, blockchain interfaces like Ripple, Ethereum and Hyperledger. On the other hand, projects coming from London are more connected to Ethereum community, and other related to digital identities, open APIs, and smart contracts. New York based participants invested more in traditional financial services projects.
The study also observed a high level of activity in parts of China – Shanghai and Beijing, wherein most of the projects revolved around cryptocurrency exchanges and cryptocurrencies.
- Financial services firms’ personnel are committers to projects on the firms’ behalf
The study was aimed towards generating useful insights that can help financial institutions make better and informed decisions. The study identified financial services firms having a major role in the blockchain development. Amongst the two types of participators on GitHub – committer and watcher, the committer tends to create or contribute to the code, while watchers keep a tab on the project development, without building codes.
Here, the employees of financial firms are the major committers of a project with some financial firms running entire projects on GitHub.
Blockchain is a developing technology with the ability to impact a large number of individuals and organizations associated with it. The study will help financial institutions and other firms to identify the potential opportunities in the future, helping them take the right investment decisions. They can know what communities are building them and from where they come from, to leverage maximum from this growing technology.