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There is little question that the web has reworked the way in which we stay and work. It has made communication and collaboration simpler than ever earlier than. However, there’s a draw back to this elevated connectedness.
The centralized nature of the web signifies that a number of giant 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 is changing into clear that the earlier, and certainly present, iteration of the web doesn’t signify what the world large net is really meant for. To perceive 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 firms like AOL and Netscape grew to become family names. The net browser was invented, and HTML grew to become 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 online ought to work. Its best-known requirements embody 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 by way of search key phrases. Google’s founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin additionally developed the PageRank algorithm, which ranks web sites based mostly on their recognition.
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 giant firms got here to dominate the market, and so they proceed to take action at present.
These firms are generally known as the “gatekeepers” of the web. They management what customers see after they go browsing, and so they have a major impression on the way in which companies function. The downside with this focus of energy is that it may be abused.
The gatekeepers can censor content material, limit entry to info, and acquire information about customers with out their consent. Several cases of abuse have been documented lately. In 2018, for instance, Facebook was embroiled in a scandal over the misuse of person information.
Though arguments are sometimes made in regards to the necessity of the centralization of knowledge, it has grow to be more and more clear that this mannequin will not be sustainable in the long run. The web was designed to be a decentralized community, and the centralized mannequin goes in opposition to the spirit of the online.
Evidence for this may be traced again to the early days of the web. The first iteration of the web was generally known as ARPANET, and it was created by an arm of the U.S. Defense Department 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 subsequent phase of the web’s growth 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 might 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 at all times seen as a key good thing about computing. It is just lately that the web has grow to be extra centralized.
The rise of cryptocurrencies
In 2009, a person or lady (or group of individuals) generally known as Satoshi Nakamoto launched a white paper entitled “Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System.” This paper proposed a brand new manner 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 can also be 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 individuals all around the world.
The Ethereum blockchain is one other common platform for launching cryptocurrencies. Ethereum was established in 2015, and it has since grow to be the second-largest blockchain when it comes to market capitalization.
Ethereum is totally different from Bitcoin in that it permits builders to construct decentralized purposes (dapps) on its platform. These dapps can be utilized for varied functions, from monetary companies to social networking.
The rise of cryptocurrencies has led to the event of a brand new kind of web, generally known as Web3. Web3 is a decentralized community that’s not managed by any central authority.
Instead, Web3 is powered by a community of computer systems world wide which can 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. However, it’s nonetheless in its early levels, and it stays to be seen whether or not or not it’ll stay 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 alternate options to current centralized social media platforms.
These use circumstances for Web3 are complicated and deserve their very own devoted articles (which we’ll remember to write and hyperlink to sooner or later), however let’s contact on every one briefly under.
Enabling greener expertise
The present web is predicated on a centralized mannequin that’s not very vitality environment friendly. The information facilities that energy the web use a whole lot 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 attainable to run information 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, reminiscent of banks and governments. This system will not be 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 attainable to launch decentralized purposes (dapps) that supply monetary companies 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 (Facebook), and Twitter.
Web3 can assist create a very censorship-resistant web by making it attainable to launch decentralized purposes 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.
Privacy-respecting alternate options to current social media platforms in Web3
Algorithmic accountability is an space present social media platforms have uncared for. By retaining social media centralized, there isn’t a manner for the typical person 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 burden the algorithms place on it — which may have a dangerous impact on society by selling division as an alternative of understanding. While there are some ongoing experiments with decentralized alternate options to those algorithms, it’s nonetheless in its early days.
Decentralized social media could be far more clear, and customers would be capable of perceive and alter the algorithms in the event that they so select. In addition, decentralized social media would give customers the flexibility to personal their information — one thing that’s not attainable on present centralized platforms.
Web3: Creating the web we deserve
So tying again to the issues we’ve talked about — what would an excellent web seem like? What are the parameters that outline it? We suppose an excellent web ought to have the next properties:
- It must be accessible to everybody.
- It must be vitality environment friendly.
- It must be censorship resistant.
- It ought to respect person privateness.
- It ought to promote algorithmic accountability.
These parameters are achievable with the guarantees of Web3 applied sciences. In the approaching article sequence, we’ll delve deeper into what components have led to Web2 changing into a pandora’s field of issues, and the way the following 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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