Creating the web we deserve: The case for Web3
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There is no such thing as a doubt that the web has reworked the way in which we reside and work. It has made communication and collaboration simpler than ever earlier than. Nonetheless, there’s a draw back to this elevated connectedness.
The centralized nature of the web signifies that just a few massive firms management most of what we see and do on-line. This focus of energy has led to issues about data privacy, censorship, and different abuses of energy.
It’s turning into clear that the earlier, and certainly present, iteration of the web doesn’t characterize what the world broad net is really supposed for. To grasp this and in addition the promise that Web3 holds, we’ll go over the historical past of the web and the way it has modified with time.
The present web
The web as we all know it’s largely a product of the Nineteen Nineties. This was the last decade when industrial use of the web took off, and corporations like AOL and Netscape turned family names. The online browser was invented, and HTML turned the usual markup language for creating net pages.
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The Nineteen Nineties had been additionally the last decade when the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) was based. The W3C is a corporation that units requirements for a way the net ought to work. Its best-known requirements embrace HTML, CSS, and XML.
The late Nineteen Nineties and early 2000s noticed the rise of search engines like google and yahoo like Google and Yahoo! These firms constructed their companies by indexing web sites and making them simple to search out through search key phrases. Google’s founders Larry Web page and Sergey Brin additionally developed the PageRank algorithm, which ranks web sites primarily based on their reputation.
The centralization of knowledge and the gatekeepers of the web
The search engine growth of the late Nineteen Nineties and early 2000s led to the centralization of knowledge on the web. A couple of massive firms got here to dominate the market, and so they proceed to take action at present.
These firms are referred to as the “gatekeepers” of the web. They management what customers see once they go browsing, and so they have a big influence on the way in which companies function. The issue with this focus of energy is that it may be abused.
The gatekeepers can censor content material, limit entry to info, and accumulate knowledge about customers with out their consent. A number of situations of abuse have been documented lately. In 2018, for instance, Fb was embroiled in a scandal over the misuse of consumer knowledge.
Although arguments are sometimes made concerning the necessity of the centralization of knowledge, it has turn into more and more clear that this mannequin isn’t sustainable in the long run. The web was designed to be a decentralized community, and the centralized mannequin goes towards the spirit of the net.
Proof for this may be traced again to the early days of the web. The primary iteration of the web was referred to as ARPANET, and it was created by an arm of the U.S. Protection Division within the Sixties. ARPANET was designed to be a decentralized network that might proceed to perform even when elements of it had been destroyed.
The following part of the web’s improvement was the creation of the TCP/IP protocol within the Nineteen Seventies. This protocol permits computer systems to speak with one another on the web. It too was designed to be decentralized, in order that if one a part of the community went down, the remaining may nonetheless perform.
Even going again to the conceptualization of Charles Babbage’s Analytical Engine within the 1800s, it’s clear that the decentralization of knowledge was all the time seen as a key good thing about computing. It is just lately that the web has turn into extra centralized.
The rise of cryptocurrencies
In 2009, a person or lady (or group of individuals) referred to as Satoshi Nakamoto launched a white paper entitled “Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Digital Money System.” This paper proposed a brand new approach of utilizing the web to ship and obtain funds with out the necessity for a government.
Bitcoin is a decentralized network that makes use of cryptography to safe its transactions. It is usually the primary and most well-known cryptocurrency. Since its launch, Bitcoin has been used for quite a lot of functions, each authorized and unlawful. It has additionally been praised and criticized by folks everywhere in the world.
The Ethereum blockchain is one other well-liked platform for launching cryptocurrencies. Ethereum was established in 2015, and it has since turn into the second-largest blockchain by way of market capitalization.
Ethereum is totally different from Bitcoin in that it permits builders to construct decentralized functions (dapps) on its platform. These dapps can be utilized for varied functions, from monetary providers to social networking.
The rise of cryptocurrencies has led to the event of a brand new sort of web, referred to as Web3. Web3 is a decentralized community that’s not managed by any central authority.
As a substitute, Web3 is powered by a community of computer systems all over the world which might be operating blockchain software program powered by Ethereum and several other different platforms. This software program permits customers to work together with one another with out the necessity for a intermediary.
Web3 has the potential to revolutionize the way in which we use the web. Nonetheless, it’s nonetheless in its early phases, and it stays to be seen whether or not or not it is going to reside as much as its promise.
How Web3 can create the web we deserve
There are a number of methods Web3 can create the web we deserve — for instance, enabling greener expertise, fairer decentralized finance and economics, true censorship resistance and privacy-respecting options to present centralized social media platforms.
These use instances for Web3 are advanced and deserve their very own devoted articles (which we’ll be sure you write and hyperlink to sooner or later), however let’s contact on every one briefly beneath.
Enabling greener expertise
The present web relies on a centralized mannequin that’s not very vitality environment friendly. The info facilities that energy the web use plenty of electrical energy, and this electrical energy typically comes from soiled vitality sources like coal.
Web3 can assist to create a extra sustainable web by making it doable to run knowledge facilities on renewable vitality sources — or abandon the idea of data centers altogether by offering a greater infrastructure for edge computing. The nearer your info is to you, the higher it’s for the surroundings.
Fairer decentralized finance and economics
The present monetary system is managed by central authorities, corresponding to banks and governments. This method isn’t very accessible to everybody, and it typically advantages the rich greater than the poor.
Web3 can create a extra equitable monetary system by making it doable to launch decentralized functions (dapps) that supply monetary providers to anybody with an web connection. For instance, there are already dapps that permit customers to borrow and lend cash with out the necessity for a financial institution.
True censorship resistance
The present web is censored in lots of elements of the world. For instance, China has a strict censorship regime that blocks entry to many web sites, together with Google, Meta (Fb), and Twitter.
Web3 can assist create a very censorship-resistant web by making it doable to launch decentralized functions that can’t be blocked by censors. For instance, there are already dapps that permit customers to entry the web with out the necessity for VPN.
Algorithmic duty is an space present social media platforms have uncared for. By conserving social media centralized, there isn’t a approach for the common consumer to know what lies behind the algorithms that run these platforms. These algorithms typically decide what content material is promoted and what content material is buried.
As a matter of truth, research have proven that the more extreme and polarizing the content, the upper the load the algorithms place on it — which might have a dangerous impact on society by selling division as a substitute of understanding. Whereas there are some ongoing experiments with decentralized options to those algorithms, it’s nonetheless in its early days.
Decentralized social media can be way more clear, and customers would have the ability to perceive and alter the algorithms in the event that they so select. As well as, decentralized social media would give customers the power to personal their knowledge — one thing that’s not doable on present centralized platforms.
Web3: Creating the web we deserve
So tying again to the issues we’ve talked about — what would a great web appear to be? What are the parameters that outline it? We expect a great web ought to have the next properties:
- It needs to be accessible to everybody.
- It needs to be vitality environment friendly.
- It needs to be censorship resistant.
- It ought to respect consumer privateness.
- It ought to promote algorithmic duty.
These parameters are achievable with the guarantees of Web3 applied sciences. Within the coming article sequence, we’ll delve deeper into what components have led to Web2 turning into a pandora’s field of issues, and the way the subsequent iteration of the web can have the potential to show the web into the platform we deserve — one that’s sustainable, equitable, and empowering.
Daniel Saito is CEO and cofounder of StrongNode.
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