What the is Web3 anyway?

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2 years ago
Topics: Web, Web2, Web 3.0, Web3, Crypto, ...

Highly critical

The concept of Web3 has numerous critics who argue that it isn‘t practical or achievable. Critics like Moxie Marlinspike (creator of sslstrip and Signal/TextSecure) can never see a day where people run their own servers, as might be imagined by Web3. Protocols are much harder to create than platforms, he argued, in a much-commented upon piece in early January.

While that may be true, some projects like file storage protocol IPFS split data between servers and allow users to select which jurisdictions to share their data between.

Yet, complete decentralization is a hard problem to solve. Blogger suhaza replying to Moxie noted:

“People don’t want to run their own servers… companies have emerged that sell API access to an Ethereum node they run as a service… Almost all DApps use either Infura or Alchemy in order to interact with the blockchain. In fact, even when you connect a wallet like MetaMask to a DApp and the DApp interacts with the blockchain via your wallet, MetaMask is just making calls to Infura!”

So, here are the questions that need to be answered: What is Web3? Is it viable? Will it really be that decentralized?

Web3 history is driven by the disappointment of Web2

This is a story all about how the Internet got flipped-turned upside down…

First, there was the vision. Free for content creation and accessible by everyone. It was popularized by decentralized open-source believers including the internet’s inventor Tim Berners-Lee.

And, then there was the reality: data trade-offs for content creation and accessible for a price.

Cointelegraph Magazine

What the hell is Web3 anyway?

“Despite the deluge of undistinguished think pieces issued by the dominie of the day, nobody really agrees what Web3 actually even is.”

Max Parasol by Max Parasol January 31, 2022

Web3 — or Web 3.0 as crypto boomers like to call it — is a topical buzzword with only a very vague definition. Everyone agrees it has something to do with a blockchain-based evolution of the internet but, beyond that, what is it really?

Yet, the conversation surrounding the meaning and prospects for Web3 has become very fashionable in crypto communities. The term gets thrown about by big corporates trying to muscle in on the space while avoiding the negative connotations of “crypto.”

But, without an agreed-on definition, it can’t be properly evaluated.

Crypto influencer Cobie is among those deriding Web3‘s lack of specifics:

“Despite the deluge of undistinguished think pieces issued by the dominie of the day, nobody really agrees on what Web3 even is. Depending on which tribe you belong to, Web3 is a scam, Web3 is the future, Web3 is tokenizing the world, Web3 is VC exit liquidity, Web3 is just another name for crypto, you get the idea.”

He adds: “Even the crypto community can’t make their mind up on whether Bitcoin is Web3.”

Like many important terms in crypto, a key early crypto thinker coined the phrase and the community has had a few years to figure out what it means. There’s been a lot of reverse engineering driven by diverse ideologies and commercial realities.

What‘s becoming clearer is that Web3 is not just one simple idea. It is a series of ideas. It was arguably first coined in a blog post from Ethereum co-founder Gavin Wood in 2014. According to him, Web3 could foreseeably bypass the geopolitical data boundaries and his definition included “trustless transactions” as part of its tech stack. Wood went on to create the Web3 Foundation and the Polkadot network, which trades on being a Web3 alternative future.

The 2013 Etheruem white paper had earlier given devotees a chance to imagine what a DAO, for example, might look like.

Web3 is now peppered with various concepts: sovereign digital identity, censorship-free data storage, data divided by multiple servers and other ideas requiring an exegesis of Biblical proportions such as decentralized autonomous organizations. These various concepts and ideas interlace discussions about the “Web3” movement and its viability.

One thread links these concepts and Cobie’s starting definition of Web3. Web3 should include the “decentralization of power” and the “ownership of value” of one’s own content and data.

Like many, though, he’s cynical about the prospects of a utopian future coming to pass, noting that he wouldn’t be “surprised if crypto founders are too rich to care anymore and the new web gets built by late-stage capitalism greedcorps that make you buy a fractionalized micropayment NFT on Cardano to operate your electric toothbrush.”

Web3 starts with decentralized data storage

Decentralized storage of data is a key component of the emerging Web3 tech stack. In Web2, companies control closed databases. Large conglomerates including Facebook, Google and the other usual suspects go to massive lengths to hoard, control and monetize the data they collect. Web3 seeks to shift that.

Web1 was like a huge Wikipedia page married to a massive Craig’s List. No ads, no logins and a private carve-up of its web pages. Web 2 is the current era of algorithmic targeted advertising and usually free usage in exchange for signing away your privacy and data.

Centralized by large corporates, our data is savaged by those giants. The internet is also fragmented by geopolitical walls such as the Great Firewall of China and their obtuse data localization rules.

Berners-Lee is desperately disappointed with how the internet has turned out and, so, a decentralized Web3 reflects Berners-Lee’s original vision: “No permission is needed from a central authority to post anything… there is no central controlling node and, so, no single point of failure.” He now runs Solid, his own Web3 data storage play.

So, Web3 begins with data privacy and decentralized servers.

Centralized by large corporates, our data is savaged by those giants. The internet is also fragmented by geopolitical walls such as the Great Firewall of China and their obtuse data localization rules.

Berners-Lee is desperately disappointed with how the internet has turned out and, so, a decentralized Web3 reflects Berners-Lee’s original vision: “No permission is needed from a central authority to post anything… there is no central controlling node and, so, no single point of failure.” He now runs Solid, his own Web3 data storage play.

So, Web3 begins with data privacy and decentralized servers.

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2 years ago
Topics: Web, Web2, Web 3.0, Web3, Crypto, ...

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