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There is no doubt that the internet has changed the way we live and work. It has made communication and collaboration easier than ever before. However, there is a downside to this increased connection.
The centralized nature of the Internet means that a few large companies control most of what we see and do online. This concentration of power has raised concerns about data privacy, censorship and other abuses of power.
It becomes clear that the previous, and even current, iteration of the Internet does not represent what the World Wide Web is really meant for. To understand this and also the promise that Web3 holds, let’s go through the history of the Internet and how it has changed over time.
The current internet
The internet as we know it is largely a product of the 1990s. This was the decade when commercial use of the Internet took off and companies like AOL and Netscape became household names. The web browser was invented and HTML became the standard markup language for creating web pages.
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The 1990s were also the decade in which the Global Web Consortium (W3C) founded. The W3C is an organization that sets standards for how the web should work. The best known standards are HTML, CSS and XML.
In the late 1990s and early 2000s, search engines such as Google and Yahoo! These companies have built their business by indexing websites and making them easy to find through keywords. Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin also developed the PageRank algorithm, which ranks websites based on their popularity.
The centralization of information and the gatekeepers of the internet
The emergence of search engines in the late 1990s and early 2000s led to the centralization of information on the Internet. A few big companies dominated the market, and they still do.
These companies are known as the “gatekeepers” of the internet. They determine what users see when they go online, and they have a significant impact on the way businesses operate. The problem with this concentration of power is that it can be abused.
The gatekeepers can censor content, restrict access to information, and collect data about users without their consent. Several cases of abuse have been documented in recent years. For example, in 2018 Facebook was embroiled in a scandal about the misuse of user data.
While the need for centralization of information is often discussed, it is becoming increasingly clear that this model is not sustainable in the long term. The Internet was designed as a decentralized network and the centralized model goes against the spirit of the web.
The evidence for this can be traced back to the early days of the internet. The first iteration of the Internet was known as ARPANET and was created in the 1960s by a unit of the United States Department of Defense. ARPANET wax designed as a decentralized network that could continue to function even if parts of it were destroyed.
The next stage of the development of the Internet was the creation of the TCP/IP protocol In the seventies. This protocol allows computers to communicate with each other over the Internet. It was also designed to be decentralized so that if one part of the network goes down, the rest can still function.
Even if we go back to the conceptualization of Charles Babbage’s Analytical Engine in the 1800s, it is clear that the decentralization of information has always been seen as an important advantage of computers. Only in recent years has the internet become more centralized.
The rise of cryptocurrencies
In 2009, a man or woman (or group of people) known as Satoshi Nakamoto released a white paper titled “Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Money System”. This document proposed a new way to use the internet to send and receive payments without the need for a central authority.
Bitcoin is a decentralized network that uses cryptography to secure its transactions. It is also the first and most well-known cryptocurrency. Since its launch, Bitcoin has been used for a variety of purposes, both legal and illegal. It has also been praised and criticized by people all over the world.
The Ethereum blockchain is another popular platform for launching cryptocurrencies. Ethereum was founded in 2015 and has since become the second largest blockchain in terms of market capitalization.
Ethereum differs from Bitcoin in that it allows developers to build decentralized applications (dapps) on its platform. These dapps can be used for a variety of purposes, from financial services to social networking.
The rise of cryptocurrencies has led to the development of a new type of internet known as Web3. Web3 is a decentralized network that is not controlled by a central authority.
Instead, Web3 is powered by a network of computers around the world running blockchain software powered by Ethereum and several other platforms. This software allows users to communicate with each other without the need for an intermediary.
Web3 has the potential to revolutionize the way we use the internet. However, it is still in its infancy and it remains to be seen whether it will deliver on its promise.
How Web3 Can Create the Internet We Deserve
There are several ways Web3 can create the internet we deserve, including enabling greener technology, fairer decentralized finance and economics, real resistance to censorship, and privacy-respecting alternatives to existing centralized social media platforms.
These Web3 use cases are complex and deserve their own special items (which we’ll be sure to write and link to in the future), but let’s briefly discuss them below.
Enabling greener technology
Today’s internet is based on a centralized model that is not very energy efficient. The data centers that power the Internet consume a lot of electricity, and this electricity often comes from dirty energy sources such as coal.
Web3 can help create a more sustainable internet by enabling data centers to run on renewable energy sources — or abandon the idea of data centers by providing a better infrastructure for edge computing. The closer your information is to you, the better it is for the environment.
Fairer decentralized finance and economy
The current financial system is controlled by central authorities, such as banks and governments. This system is not equally accessible to everyone and often benefits the rich more than the poor.
Web3 can create a fairer financial system by making it possible to launch decentralized applications (dapps) that offer financial services to anyone with an internet connection. For example, there are already dapps that allow users to borrow and lend money without the intervention of a bank.
True Censorship Resistance
Today’s internet is censored in many parts of the world. For example, China has a strict censorship regime that blocks access to many websites, including Google, Meta (Facebook) and Twitter.
Web3 can help create a truly censorship-resistant Internet by enabling the launch of decentralized applications that cannot be blocked by censors. For example, there are already dapps that allow users to use the internet without a VPN.
Privacy-Respecting Alternatives to Existing Social Media Platforms in Web3
Algorithmic responsibility is an area that current social media platforms have neglected. Keeping social media centralized means there’s no way the average user can know what’s behind the algorithms that run these platforms. These algorithms often determine which content is promoted and which content is buried.
In fact, studies have shown that the more extreme and polarizing the content, the higher the weight the algorithms place on it — which can have a detrimental effect on society by fostering division rather than understanding. While there are some ongoing experiments with decentralized alternatives to these algorithms, it is still in its infancy.
Decentralized social media would be much more transparent and users could understand and change the algorithms if they wanted to. In addition, decentralized social media would allow users to own their data – something that is not possible on today’s centralized platforms.
Web3: Creating the Internet We Deserve
So going back to the problems we mentioned – what would an ideal internet look like? What are the parameters that define it? In our opinion, an ideal internet should have the following properties:
- It must be accessible to everyone.
- It must be energy efficient.
- It must withstand censorship.
- It must respect the privacy of the user.
- It should promote algorithmic responsibility.
These parameters are achievable with the promises of Web3 technologies. In the upcoming series of articles, we’ll take a closer look at what factors led Web2 to become a pandora’s box of problems, and how the next iteration of the Internet will have the potential to turn the Internet into the platform we deserve – a platform. that is sustainable, fair and empowering.
Daniel Saito is CEO and co-founder of StrongNode.
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