I grew up enjoying the book Charlotte's Web by E. B. White. I have also read it to my children, taking them back to a time where things were a bit more simple and a barn full of critters work together to save one of their own.
Many people read the story and think it is about Wilbur, the pig. But it's not. He may be in the spotlight and get all the notoriety, but the story is about Charlotte, the little spider who set out to help her piggy friend survive and thrive in a world that would rather see the pig dead than alive and doing well. Charlotte was soft-spoken, yet persistent in her efforts to make sure that everyone knew that Wilbur was "some pig", "terrific", "radiant", and "humble".
Wilbur did not start off as a terrific, radiant, humble animal who found his label as "some pig!" Instead, the words used by others to describe Wilbur in the beginning were "runt", "small", "weak", "will never amount to anything", and as something that needed to be done away with. Unfortunately, these words kept Wilbur in fear until the words on Charlotte's webs gave him the confidence he needed to become what she wrote he was. He questioned his own abilities until others started telling him he was more than just a "runt" that needed to be done away with.
How do Spiders Build Webs
Before I continue I need to give a caveat here: I do not like spiders (except for Charlotte, of course!). Maybe it's from watching Arachnophobia back in the 90's, or other films where giant spiders try to kill everyone. I don't know...the little monsters look scary to me, and if they are big enough that you can see "fur" or hair on them, then I am obviously way too close. That said, have you ever watched one build a web? It is truly awesome to see.
I live in the country and, unfortunately, have a ton spiders running around the house, the barn, and the cabin. As much as I don't like them, I can watch one build a web with fascination. A spider web usually starts with a series of "hub strands" that come together in the center made of silk that is said to be stronger than steel. The spider will connect all these little "hubs" together forming what is a very small, circular web, that I would say is the "core" of the web in the middle. From there the spider will go to the outer edges and begin connecting all the "hub strands" together at their furthest distances, going from one strand to the next, slowly moving closer and closer to the center, making a massive spiral out of the silk she lays, which we call a web.
As beautiful as they are, I cannot stand getting caught up in one. As a tall person I always seem to find my face covered in a web as I walk through the woods or even in the dark on my front porch. Once you get covered in one it is almost impossible to get out of it. I know I walk around pulling at, what probably seems to others, imaginary strands that won't let go of my body. The spider's web worked as it should: it caught me and has made it very difficult for me to escape. Any web that is built should be just like a spider's web: made from super-strong materials, broad in coverage, and able to trap anything that it catches.
The World Wide Web
The internet as we know it today started off as a package switching network called Advanced Research Projects Administration Net, or ARPANET. ARPANET was funded by the U.S. Department of Defense and was also the first network to implement TCP/IP. Both ARPANET and TCP/IP "became the technical foundation of the Internet" according to information from Wikipedia.
ARPANET was established in 1969 with the first message being sent through it on October 29. Look at the image to the right: it is fairly easy to see how the NET connected together in what is visually a non-complex pattern, four years after being started.
Just a few short years later, it is easy to see how the NET had grown not just in hosts on the network, but how those hosts connected and communicated with one another. Slowly, a web was being built that came to be known as the world wide web, or what we call "the internet."
The internet has grown in complexity, and availability, throughout the years. A merchant in China can sell its goods to a buyer in the United States without either party having to be in the same location as the other. At the same time, friends in Australia and the United Kingdom can communicate via email, sending important information to each other almost instantly. And, more recently, the advent of social media such as Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, WeChat, etc., allows users to view pictures, videos, and other content posted by their friends and to send messages to each other through instant messaging apps, no matter where in the world those individuals may be located. The world wide web no longer looks like a few interconnecting hosts, it is a living network composed of everyone person, business, university, and government who participates.
This is what the internet looks like today (this image was created by Barret Lyon of The Opte Project). A complex web that covers the globe, connecting people, businesses, governments, and other points of data together, allowing almost immediate access to information anywhere by anyone. The center of this web is its core, with "hub threads" extending to the outer reaches, but all connected by the strong hardware and software that allows the web to entangle and hold on to any person, entity, or information that finds its way onto (into) that web. The world has built a spider's web for information, can the same be done for money and value?
Building the Internet of Value
Ripple executives have stated repeatedly that they are building the internet of value. What does this mean?
In a previous blog I discussed some of the attributes of the system currently used to send value across the globe: SWIFT. When looking at the Internet of Value, SWIFT could be analogous to the ARPANET. While SWIFT's global penetration is more than what the ARPANET had, SWIFT relies on outdated technologies that cause values to transfer slower than the Encyclopedia Britannica across the web using a 14.4k modem. It's time for a new protocol to transfer value across the globe and Ripple has already built the core of that world wide web of value: the InterLedger Protocol.
The InterLedger Protocol (ILP) was designed "for efficient payments across payment networks," according to a Ripple Insights article titled "Implementing the Interledger Protocol in Ripple." The article goes on to state:
With Ripple and ILP, banks can leverage unlimited scalability and complete transaction privacy.
Today, banks are deploying Ripple's solutions for Cross-Currency Settlement and FX Market Making. When those solutions are ILP-enabled, banks won't have to change much - market makers will still hold accounts at their banks and they'll establish relationships with the other banks and market makers with whom they want to transact. ILP enables transactions across any number of different ledgers and exchanges using cryptographic escrow and a specialized two-phase commit protocol.
ILP will also enhance the reach and impact of the Ripple Consensus Ledger (RCL), which serves as the root ledger for the digital currency XRP. Digital currencies continue to play a critical role in the burgeoning Internet of Value. As always, our focus is to make XRP the best bridge asset for market makers providing cross-currency liquidity.
Ripple, like a diligent spider spinning its silk, has built the core of the Internet of Value. What about the rest of the web?
Linking Up with Competitors
In the Internet of Value, competition is not a bad thing. Think of the internet. What would it look like and "feel" like if there were only one online search company available? What if there were only one social media company available to use? Only one place where you could buy retail items? Only one place where you could look at photographs? Only one place where you could buy a ticket for a movie, or an airline ticket? Or, only one place where you could hire a car and driver to take you where you need to go? What if...? The internet would be a pretty boring place and, I dare say, it would not have the global reach it does today. Instead of the beautiful image by The Opte Group, we'd be looking at something similar to the ARPANET.
The same can be said for the Internet of Value. If a bank wants to develop and use its own ledger technology, so be it. The ILP can connect that bank to the rest of the Internet of Value providing one more point to build liquidity from. And once a part of the ILP, they can easily begin using XRP as their source of liquidity settlement.
And, it is the ILP that xCurrent runs on, essentially opening new liquidity corridors every time someone joins the RippleNet. How many possible liquidity corridors are there? The formula to figure this out is n*(n-1)/2, where n equals the number of participants on the network. For this example, we will use the number 100 (since we know we have at least 100 banks signed up as Ripple partners). 100*(100-1)/2 = 4,950 possible liquidity corridors, or silk spider threads, connecting the users of RippleNet to each other. Let that sink in a moment. If we add one more bank to the network this week, the number of possible liquidity corridors rises to 101*(101-1)/2 = 5,050. Once there are 200 banks, the number of possible corridors is 19,900. The world wide web of payments, the Internet of Value, is being built right before out eyes.
How fast is the network growing? This is the exciting news! Brad Garlinghouse, CEO of Ripple, stated in an interview this week that there are "Well over 100 customers, ranging from some of the biggest banks in the world, to payment providers, the Western Unions, the MoneyGrams, LianLian Pay out of China." When asked how many total partners there were, Garlinghouse stated he did not know for sure, but that "We're signing up more than a bank a week now." Think about what Garlinghouse said and think about how many partnerships get announced regularly. Then realize there are many more partners that have not been announced.
I would like to share with you a couple of websites that help show the various Ripple Partners. The first one is called The Rippening (by @jdimstrnate on XRPChat or @thezerpening on Twitter). This website is still underdevelopment, however, they are building out the Ripple partnership list and you can submit a Ripple partner for inclusion, by providing the source, on the submission form at the bottom of the page. The next one is called The Zerpening (by @Callandt on XRPChat). The Zerpening provides some interesting statistics about XRP, as well as which partners are using/piloting XRP specifically. If you would like to see what the RippleNet "looks like" as it processes transactions, then you have to look at A Living Ledger. This website shows ledger nodes as they process transactions live on RippleNet. The beauty of seeing the web of transactions being spun by RippleNet is almost too much for words. These websites, and others, are trying to track the expansion of the RippleNet as it develops into the Internet of Value.
The ILP can connect the ledger of any bank, whether they are using fiat for transfers or a digital asset including XRP, to all the other banks in the network, building out a beautiful web where value can be transferred from one point to another, even if a direct trust line does not exist, using the path finding algorithm built into the ILP to search across the "silk threads" that have been used to connect one bank to another.
A Web of Announcements and Speculation
A recent announcement by BBVA Compass shows just how strong the RippleNet web is. BBVA Compass' CEO stated that their test of Ripple tech "went very well" as they begin exploring further use of the technology. Just like being trapped in a spider's web, once you begin using RippleNet, it is difficult to get away.
Another announcement that indirectly affects Ripple is between WorldPay, a "global leader in payments," and LianLian Pay, "one of the top mobile payment service providers in China." LianLian Pay recently joined RippleNet, using xCurrent, "to receive real time, cross-border remittances, invoice payments and e-commerce payments," according to Ripple. Using LianLian Pay, "Worldpay customers can expect access to pay outs in CNY and enhanced deposit capabilities, on top of the 18 settlement currencies already available via a single technical connection." These types of examples are exactly what the Internet of Value is designed to make a reality. LianLian is able to bring more liquidity to the markets they serve, thus increasing the value of RippleNet. While this is pure speculation, I would be willing to venture that WorldPay decides to become a Ripple customer once they see how efficiently they are able to move money through LianLian.
Many people have been asking about more "retail" use for XRP. Again, our very own @WietseWind on Twitter, has developed an app that allows for businesses to receive payment in XRP. The first business to use the new app and accept payments in XRP is SearchCandy, a Search Engine Optimization company based in the U.K. Their website states:
PayPal is the dominant payment provider in the SEO industry for small payments, and due to this we lose a percentage of our income as a business to PayPal fees, especially when clients decide to use their credit cards.
We have also seen how powerful crypto, and specifically Ripple XRP can be as a method of payment.
XRP transactions complete in just seconds/minutes, meaning we receive your payment quickly and securely – and don’t lose ridiculous amounts of money on currency conversions or expensive transactions fees.
A company like SearchCandy can become a liquidity provider, if they choose to, based on how they use or hold XRP. No matter, SearchCandy has become part of the RippleNet and is now connected to and part of the Internet of Value.
Additionally, Brad Garlinghouse has been overseas spinning the silk thread of Ripple to anyone willing to listen. We have heard him compare Bitcoin to Napster, talk about regulation, and how banks are jumping on board with adopting RippleTech. Garlinghouse & Co. has become our very own "Charlotte".
To understand the importance of RippleNet and the Internet of Value, I wrote a previous blog about how xCurrent (which rides on the ILP "rails") is helping to build liquidity for XRP. The Internet of Value is being built to drive demand for XRP, one company, one thread at a time.
Looking at the Web
After all this, we can see many similarities between Charlotte's Web and Ripple and XRP. XRP is our favorite little "runt" and is "the banker's coin" that "no bank will ever use!" The team at Ripple is our "Charlotte" willing to do whatever it takes to save their "friend in the barn." XRP gets the spotlight, but it is the work of Team Ripple that is placing that spotlight on the "runt". The web they are spinning, the Internet of Value, has begun telling the world that little ol' XRP is worth keeping around. "It's fast!" screams one web. "It's less expensive!" says another. "Companies are using it!" And just like Wilbur, XRP has begun to respond in a positive way to the words being written for all to see. Ripple is building a world wide web of value for XRP. Are you ready to connect to it?
On a Final Note
I realize not many people actually know who I am. While I have my serious times, I also enjoy having fun and, yes, even being a bit silly at times. I stated before, I am a big kid at heart.
A few weeks ago I posted a little poem about XRP based on some fun that was going on in the XRPChat forums. Since then I have been asked if I could write something more.
I was mowing the yard for the first time this year just a couple of weeks ago and I began to think about ways to "word sleuth" with XRP (I had a lot of time. It took me six hours to mow the six acres I normally cut). Well, I came up with something quite ridiculous, but funny. I call it "The XRP Hillbilly" based on "The Ballad of Jed Clampett" from The Beverly Hillbillies. Please watch this video and have some fun! And yes, that is me singing, so please know this is not professional.
Y'all come back now, ya hear!
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