Web3 is neither cryptocurrency nor blockchain.
Instead, it is a mission to fix the broken web. Tim Berners-Lee intended the web to be a place where people could get instant access to information, but not at the cost of user privacy and data breach.
The once decentralized web is now dominated by a few big companies who provide email, social media, and other services for ‘free.’ The trade-off here is the enormous amounts of user information gathered to target ads, etc. — further expanding to risks like a data breach, surveillance, censorship, data loss and more in today’s web.
How Is the Web Broken?
Web1 was run by regular computers, and anybody could build on it. Thus it was decentralized and open source.
Then came web2, where Facebook, Youtube, Google, etc., were built on the open web. At the same time, online advertising was starting to kick in, and these companies found it to be the ideal way to monetize their free platform. They started collecting user data for effective targeting of ads.
Their hunger for more data and money turned them into tech giants, and in the process, they centralized the decentralized internet. For instance, the entire social media ecosystem today is dominated by Meta(Facebook).
It also no longer remained open source because these companies grew so much in power that they would easily kill their competition by buying them out.
Data being the primary incentive has led to data monopoly and resulted in the following problems –
- Censorship — Users no longer have control over what they see on the internet. It is highly driven by what these companies want you to see — for instance, the recent suspension of Donald Trump from Facebook and Twitter. They didn’t give users a choice to not read his content if they didn’t wish to, but instead, they told them they can’t.
- Data Breach — These corporations collect large data sets in centralized servers. Making them prone to hacks because data is the tool everybody wants access to in today’s world. Hackers can steal this data and sell it to other businesses; if you want to know how many data breaches have happened so far, check them out here. There are even cases of purposeful selling of data.
- Data Loss — Data loss can tumble down economies and corporations. Imagine what would happen if one day Google lost all of its data. Every company in the world will fall apart because all the information on their emails and drives will be lost. Centralized servers make it easier to lose data with just one failure.
How Is Web3 Fixing the Broken Web?
Web3 promises to give you the best of both worlds. It aims to re-decentralize the internet with applications that give users control of their data and replaces data as an incentive.
It will free us and our data from the tech giant’s control and give people back the power. How?
1. Decentralized Applications Put an End to Censorship
The only reason it’s easy for these companies to censor things on their platform is because they own it. But what if we created applications that are ‘Not’ centrally owned. For instance, Dtube is the decentralized version of Youtube; it can’t just take down content from its platform like Youtube.
Web3 aims at providing decentralized alternatives to all the applications used.
2. Data Loss Is Not a Thing in Web3
In web3, data is not stored in large data centers. Instead, it will be saved at multiple locations on the internet, preventing data loss. For instance, every node on a blockchain has a copy of all transactions on the network. So even if the records with one node are lost, other nodes on the network will have the data.
3. Data Breach, What’s That?
You must have seen those quick sign-in options on many websites that let you log in with your Gmail or social media. It is a quick way of validating your identity on those websites but isn’t it scary? Imagine how much of our data lies with these companies that they are used as identity managers. One breach into their system, and all our data will be stolen.
Hence web3 ensures decentralized identity management with Civic, Enigma, Solid, etc. Using these applications, you can store your identity in a decentralized way. It ensures that your data isn’t stored in a centralized server, making it hard for hackers to steal large amounts of data and thus disincentivizing data breaches.
Web3: A Move Back to Decentralization and Open Source
The objective of web3 is to make the web decentralized and open-source, again!
It would require infrastructural level changes in how apps get built and data sets are managed. This transition is a fundamental step to fixing the broken web that puts us at risk on multiple fronts regarding data and ownership.
However, doing so isn’t going to be easy. It will be time-consuming because nobody yet knows the answer to how web3 will be built. All that we know is what we want it to be. For now, blockchain as a solution is closest to the home, but other ways like Storj, etc., are also underway.
Hope now you know why web3 matters 🙂