Over the previous three many years, the web has remodeled the lives of billions of individuals. For many of us nowadays, it’s uncommon that we go various hours with out interacting with the world broad net in a roundabout way or one other. Whether or not it’s work, social media, on-line procuring, or gaming, the web has change into ever-present in lots of aspects of our lives.
Even so the web at the moment is barely unrecognizable from what it as soon as was. We are able to hint our digital lives again to the late Nineteen Eighties, the place Tim Berners-Lee first created what’s now generally known as “Web1”, or the early web, which he envisioned as a sort of international communication system made up of interconnected pc methods.
The Beginning of Web1
On the time, the early web had few customers, most of them being teachers and governments. It wasn’t till 1991 that the web as we all know it at the moment began clicking into gear when the primary business organizations started utilizing it to do enterprise.
The lots have been first launched to the online in 1992 with the delivery of HTML pages that could possibly be accessed through early net browsers similar to Netscape Navigator and Mosaic. That is the place Web1 began, bringing with it the arrival of hyperlinks between paperwork, permitting customers to click on on textual content inside a web page and navigate to a different web site some place else on the web.
It was round this time that it turned a lot simpler for individuals to create their very own web sites and share them with others, serving to to speed up the web’s progress.
Rise of Web2
The early, largely static web sites of Web1 steadily gave method to Web2 starting round 1999. With the arrival of applied sciences similar to WordPress, it turned doable for extra individuals to make their very own web sites and blogs. In the meantime, a brand new search engine referred to as Google arrived on the scene that made it far simpler for individuals to seek out the knowledge they have been in search of.
Web2 additionally noticed the rise of social media websites, first MySpace, and later the names which have come to dominate the online at the moment, similar to Fb and Twitter. On the identical time, business use of the web exploded too, with firms utilizing it as a method to promote and promote services and products on-line, whereas the likes of Amazon and eBay started establishing their large on-line marketplaces.
Some say Web2 is the period wherein customers gained extra management of their on-line expertise. They may lastly select to create or eat any sort of content material they needed to, with out restrictions. Nonetheless, Web2 also created a highly centralized internet, the place customers usually are not in charge of their knowledge. Person data is extremely prized in Web2 as a result of it’s used to ship extra customized experiences and extra focused ads. This implies more cash for the advertisers and the businesses promoting their companies on-line.
This centralization of knowledge is without doubt one of the primary components driving the event of Web3, which has the first aim of giving customers again management over their knowledge.
Web3 & The Decentralized Internet
The time period “Web3” was first popularized by Ethereum co-founder Gavin Wooden, who believes that centralization isn’t sustainable in the long run. The concept with Web3 is an web that’s constructed atop of a decentralized infrastructure to be able to remove the necessity for extremely centralized organizations similar to Google and Fb (now referred to as Meta), which have constructed up such a monopoly over the online that they’ll now act as gatekeepers to data.
Web3 will subsequently be a decentralized model of the web, whereby purposes are constructed and owned by their communities. In Web2, customers could have management of the issues they eat and create, however they’ve little or no alternative about which platforms they’ll eat and create issues on. With Web3, individuals won’t be compelled to depend on huge tech companies any longer.
This decentralized future is being made doable by the rise of applied sciences similar to blockchain, which underpins the Bitcoin cryptocurrency and permits safe, clear, and tamper-proof transactions in addition to the safe storage of knowledge with no need any third get together. Web3 has already led to quite a few improvements in areas similar to crypto, decentralized finance, and NFTs, that are slowly however absolutely transferring management of the web again to its customers.
Why Do We Want A Decentralized Internet?
The dominance of huge tech companies has led to some severe issues over the affect they pose in areas such because the privateness, safety, and censorship of the online. As defined in a blog post by the cryptocurrency trade AAX, the likes of Google and Meta could not management the precise infrastructure on which the web runs, however they’ve full energy inside their very own ecosystems, and that enables them to set their very own guidelines and implement them as they see match.
The whole dominance of the companies they supply causes huge issues. On the subject of web search, for instance, most individuals can not dwell with out Google. For anybody who wants to remain in contact with far-flung mates and kinfolk, Meta’s Fb is a must have.
“The options of those firms play such a vital position on the internet that most individuals and organizations can’t bypass most or all of them with out considerably sacrificing consumer expertise, stability, or hurting profitability,” AAX identified.
The extremely centralized nature of companies on Web2 implies that whereas almost two-thirds of the world’s inhabitants has entry to the web, solely a handful of companies management their knowledge. It’s an identical story by way of the bodily infrastructure too, with public cloud computing suppliers like Amazon Internet Companies and Microsoft Azure offering on-demand availability of fully-managed computing assets similar to compute energy and knowledge storage. This comfort has resulted in 94% of enterprises utilizing the cloud, based on AAX’s knowledge. The issue is that this results in additional centralization of the online, with solely a handful of tech giants answerable for internet hosting a lot of the web’s web sites and companies.
“Via their management over social media platforms, cloud computing options, and digital marketplaces, giant expertise firms have the authority to censor content material, implement controversial insurance policies, and restrict customers’ privateness,” AAX defined in its weblog submit.
Web3 guarantees to scale back this reliance on centralized suppliers and democratize computing, placing energy again into the arms of particular person customers.
Most likely the largest distinction between the normal, extremely centralized tech platforms and these newer blockchain-based decentralized networks is the world of management. At Meta, as an example, all the knowledge that’s uploaded onto its platforms and transferred to customers should move via considered one of its company knowledge facilities, which represents a single source of potential failure if one thing goes unsuitable. With decentralized networks primarily based on blockchain, management is unfold throughout a whole lot and even hundreds of community members, which every contribute storage capability to the system. So there are a number of customers and no single level of failure – if one thing goes unsuitable with one node, there are a whole lot of others that may make sure the community retains operating.
Decentralized networks additionally enhance safety. The latest high-profile breaches at firms like Equifax and Marriott highlighted the rising sophistication of hackers and uncovered the non-public data of tens of millions of customers. However such assaults could be virtually unimaginable to drag off on a decentralized community, as it will require the hackers to seek out and breach each single node inside a community, an extremely advanced and prohibitive process.
It’s not solely safety that advantages from decentralization. Person management is improved too. A recent poll by the Related Press discovered that 9 out of 10 People are nervous about their digital privateness. That’s not stunning as a result of nowadays virtually each element of our lives is saved on-line, together with our well being information, social safety numbers and monetary data, plus extra trivial data such because the sorts of music we take heed to and the films we like to observe.
With the rise of the metaverse, the road between the digital and bodily world will change into more and more blurred, ensuing within the want for safer networks. Furthermore, customers are demanding to have extra choices over the place to retailer their knowledge that don’t feed the monopolistic ambitions of huge tech companies like Google, Amazon, Meta et al.
Customers are rightly involved concerning the problem that the affect of those firms poses for safety, privateness, and accountability. Till now, they haven’t had a lot alternative however to associate with them.
Decentralization will change that. Via user-based peer-to-peer networks, it turns into doable to opt-out of storing your private knowledge on the servers of these huge tech companies. Customers will acquire full management of their data, realizing the place it’s and the way it’s getting used. Furthermore, as a result of Web3 is an open-source infrastructure, everybody can take part in reporting issues, suggesting fixes, and creating new instruments that enhance this new web for everybody else.
AAX believes decentralization may also result in a discount within the “digital divide”, making the online accessible and inexpensive to the billions of individuals on this planet who’re nonetheless disconnected from the web.
“Concurrently, modern options like SpaceX’s Starlink challenge, in addition to a extra various vary of net options, may improve the resilience and decentralization of the web even in instances of disaster,” AAX mentioned.
The web at the moment is at a crossroads – we will follow Web2 and enhance our reliance on a handful of extremely centralized and super-powered huge tech companies, or we will take again management and set the foundations for ourselves in a future constructed on decentralized networks.