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This article was written by Josh Drake, Director of Operations at DFINITY.
The Web has been evolving for over three decades now, slowly taking us from the early days of Web 1.0, with static text and images, to the rise of Web 2.0, ushering in the Internet we know today – dominated by centralization platforms. We are now at the beginning of Web 3.0, which envisions value and data transferred seamlessly across decentralized platforms, where ownership and control are distributed. However, there are still a few hurdles to overcome for the vision of this new web to materialize.
A brief history of the web
Despite its rudimentary nature, Web 1.0 was an era defined by decentralized and open protocols. The first platforms running on the Internet were powered by open-source code, shared through forums, message board systems, and newsgroups. Most of them were unpatented and free.
Then, following the dot com crash (around 2000), a new generation of online services emerged. With the increase in faster internet speeds, streaming sites, like YouTube and Netflix, have started to become more important. Along with this came social media and soon the ability to link experiences to media via video sharing or live streaming became commonplace. This era also saw the rise of mobile internet, providing even more access to these platforms through cellphones and tablets.
However, these new platforms have emerged from businesses and corporations. And the once open-source code and platforms that defined Web 1.0 have become proprietary. No one could copy and modify these models without anticipating serious legal ramifications. Moreover, the emergence of such platforms has consolidated users into centralized hubs, ultimately controlled by large tech companies such as Facebook and Google. In a short time, the collection of user data has become common practice, often veiled behind ostensibly “free” services. This is unfortunately the fundamental landscape of Web 2.0.
The potential of Web 3.0
Regardless of its trajectory so far, the internet is evolving, and blockchain-powered decentralized applications (dapps) promise to once again struggle against the control of a handful of centralized gatekeepers. An “internet of money” is emerging, along with distributed, user-controlled data hosting platforms.
Decentralized finance, or DeFi, already provides millions of people around the world with the means to trade assets, earn passive income, take out loans and more, all without a middleman taking a bite. go. This fulfills the cryptocurrency philosophy of banking the unbanked.
It’s not just about individual money management either. This new world opens up possibilities for things like SocialFi – a portmanteau of social media and finance that aims to deliver exactly what you expect. Without blockchain, options for sending money through a social app are more cumbersome, less secure, and would require an independent third party to build trust instead of an automated, immutable payment layer. With this layer, however, users can transact with confidence, eliminating costly intermediaries and providing more efficient payments.
There’s also the thriving world of GameFi, deeply tied to visions of the metaverse to come. The in-game economies will be powered by cryptocurrency assets and non-fungible tokens (NFTs). Following a game-to-win model, players will be rewarded for their time spent engaging by earning assets of real value that they truly own.
Moreover, in addition to offering trustless transactions and disintermediating central entities, decentralized technology provides an entirely new business model to replace the dominant Internet archetype. This comes in the form of Decentralized Autonomous Organizations (DAOs) that distribute control to a collective of users, allowing them to have a say in the direction of the platform, incentivizing usage through tangible ownership and governance rewards.
This means that startups can now compete on equal footing with incumbent services, attracting a user base via incentives and driving network effects to expand their reach.
The possibilities for this new Internet to completely change the way users, developers and brands interact are significant, but there is still work to be done.
The shortcomings of current platforms that are holding back Web 3.0
Despite the wide range of possible use cases, there are still major issues that hold back this vision of Web 3.0. For one thing, many self-proclaimed decentralized apps are far from truly decentralized. It is not uncommon for the front-end of these services to run on cloud servers, which means access to them is still dependent on legacy infrastructure, and blockchain is only occasionally used to send or receive. Datas.
Even blockchain networks themselves, designed to be decentralized, lose this distinction if the majority of them run on Amazon Web Services or similar centralized enterprise clouds. This is increasingly the case, even in the case of Ethereum. A single point of failure like this is precisely what blockchain was designed to combat, so the current situation is neither ideal nor sustainable.
Another common issue holding back progress is that many Web 3.0 services currently run on Ethereum, with notoriously high transaction fees, low throughput, and an inability to scale without external infrastructure. These inherent handicaps of the vaunted Web 3 backbone will hamper its potential. For the Metaverse to truly work for everyone, barriers to entry such as these need to be removed, and quickly.
How will we get there
All things considered, it would be premature to say that we have already arrived at Web 3.0. But that does not mean that the foundations are not laid. For example, new platforms are emerging that seek to free themselves completely from Web 2.0 standards. This includes the Internet Computer, a blockchain that runs at web speed, serves the web, and provides an infinitely scalable platform for smart contracts. The internet computer has already overcome scaling, speed and fee issues, paving the way for DeFi experiences that aren’t slow or expensive – allowing dapps to unlock the full potential of the architecture. decentralized.
For the vision of Web 3.0 to become a reality, every part of an online service, from front-end to back-end, must be hosted on-chain. There’s no need for legacy infrastructure, which means no guards and minimal downtime. This will deliver 100% authentic Web 3.0 experiences while delivering noticeably better performance.
One of the most essential elements of this new era of technology, however, is that it be built properly from the ground up. It’s a chance to reinvent the internet, and it’s important to make sure it’s done in the interests of end users rather than businesses.
Josh Drake is the COO of DFINITY.
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