Thoughts about the OSI layer and the layers in crypto and the blockchain

As I was writing my latest article about blockchain, what is Polkadot? I had a thought that keeps coming back to me regarding this whole new digital world. So here it is, in a bit of a stream of consciousness format, maybe even a bit of a rambling.

I can't help to think how interesting it is watching this evolution in digital. At first, I noticed that the crypto world had more or less taken over the names for established network layers. I started noticing that each project usually describes that they're a "layer 2" or "layer 1" level project or whatever layer they're part of.

I guess it was a little irritating for me because I thought we already have definitions for layers in networking. Isn't all this blockchain stuff, just software on a network?

The OSI Layer model has definitions for layer 1 through layer 7. We've had it since 1984, ironically. Turns out the blockchain has 6 layers.

Why didn't they (the crypto world/blockchain) just pick up at layer 8, and 9, and so on? I mean they still need routers, storage, servers, and databases, right? To the uninitiated and ignorant, like me, it seems that most of the projects I've seen actually belong to layers 4-7, and maybe even 3.

A quick refresher if you didn't know about layers:

  • Layer 1 - physical
  • Layer 2 - data link
  • Layer 3 - network
  • Layer 4 - transport
  • Layer 5 - session
  • Layer 6 - presentation
  • Layer 7 - application

If you want to remember it, remember this: Please Do Not Teach Students Pointless Acronyms.

But then I started thinking a bit more and I realized. Sure, crypto needs all those things, but what if they didn't? What if storage as we know it changes drastically in the next 10 years.

What if we no longer need servers because we have a petabyte of storage available in our mobile devices which are connected to a near-instant peer-to-peer communication system, making the need for anything centralized (like big routers & DNS, etc) pretty much obsolete.

It could be more or less a "living and breathing" mesh network. Paths to information would be generated and cached through faster and more reliable nodes. And at that point, what is a storage device? Is it the individual node? is it the "memory" of that preferred path of information, or is a storage device the collective of data that mirrors and verifies the data itself?

To think about this is mind-bending. Everything is changing.

Perhaps this realization is an indication that we're not just in another iteration of the Internet with "better apps" or a "better social network" or an "easier way to pay. We're in fact reinventing the entire digital world.

And when I say "we" I mean we as in people, as the world, because personally, all I'm doing right now is farting around with pocket change in retail exchanges. But some people really are investing their life into this.

And maybe that's why they decided to use new definitions for layers and ended up with six layers instead of 7. IDK, the amount of information I've absorbed about the blockchain and cryptocurrencies, and all that over the past 2 to 3 months is astounding.

It is overwhelming, but I thought I'd put down some thoughts about this specific topic just to clear ideas floating in my head.

Thanks for reading.

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