You never really know until the ball gets rolling, right?
These past few days I’ve been reading and learning about Urbit. It’s a project that deserves more than a single post of its own, but here’s the gist of it: it aims to redo the foundations of software architecture from scratch, in an attempt to solve some of the current issues and provide an easy system for decentralized, secure, single-identity computing. Suffice to say, it’s pretty far off from the architectures we’ve all learnt to live with.
A lot of people are commenting the same thing on the project: they’re not sure if the man with the plan is a genius or a plain old nut-job. It’s easy to see where that doubt comes from. His project can be seen as a needlessly convoluted reinvention of the wheel, and the fact that he even renamed common lingo and discarded decade-old conventions doesn’t help his case. Not to mention his thoughts and opinions voiced on his personal blog, often quickly labeled as ramblings of a foil-hatted madman.
Yes, it goes against everything we’ve come to accept. Yes, his project alone likely won’t succeed in bringing about the great changes he envisions. But let’s think back a couple years. Let’s think about Bitcoin. The initial concept wasn’t something people had expected at the time, shoving the ideas behind it into the same category of thought we see people doing with Urbit’s ideals. Yet look where that ended up! Crypto-currency is a real thing, Bitcoin’s decentralized “nobody owns anything yet it’s still secure” nature looks to be a very fair milestone towards a more secure modern internet.
I personally think Urbit is, if anything, an interesting endeavor. It would be cool to see it succeed, see how it would stack up in the real world, but only time (and lots of it) will be able to maybe show us that.