Understanding the Concept of Web3.0—Decentralized Internet
In 1990, Tim Berners-Lee introduced the world to the Internet (Web 1.0), envisioning “a collaborative medium, a place where we [could] all meet and read and write.” The “original” idea behind this ground-breaking technology was essentially opposed to the centralization of control in the hands of a few organizations. That is, ‘no permission is needed to post anything’ on the Web, as there is no central controlling node’.
Berners-Lee’s vision did not materialize at the time. And after, the internet went in the opposite direction to its founder’s idea, bringing it to its present state; controlled by giants such as Google and Facebook, among others.
Recently, however, at the Decentralized Web Summit 2018, around 800 minds discussed the concept of a decentralized web or DWeb. Propelled by emerging technologies such as distributed ledger and blockchain, it promises to restore control over data with the user.
Centralization and Control in Web 2.0
Almost every website that a user visits tracks its activity and monetize this data for targeted advertising and other purposes. It installs trackers on their system and monitors their activity over the web. This is the norm of Web 2.0 or ‘Web as a Platform’, as defined by Tim O’Reilly and John Battelle.
Cambridge Analytica has recently revealed the exploitation of huge amounts of users’ data for financial and political gains. Now, the internet giants, big corporations, and governments are facing stricter surveillance. That too, without the user’s meaningful consent.
Within the ecosystem of Web 2.0, users aren’t sovereign as they are unable to control their “time and information”.
Decentralized Internet (Web 3.0)—Restoring Control with the User
Suppose, User A wants to share a document with User B. Unlike Web 2.0, a decentralized web would enable User A to directly interact with User B, over a peer-to-peer network. And without relying upon any centralized server such as Google for G-Mail.
According to columnist Zoë Corbyn, “The DWeb is about re-decentralizing things–so we aren’t reliant on these intermediaries to connect us. Instead, users keep control of their data and connect and interact and exchange messages directly with others in their network”
Blockchain technology stores cryptographically encrypted data on a shared ledger and transfer it over a P2P network without any central governing authority. Then Decentralized Applications or DApps come on top of this layer and offer similar functionalities as traditional web apps. That is, while the user experience remains the same or becomes better.
The Present State of Web 3.0
Now, in early 2020, the promise of Web 3.0 is not merely theoretical. Blockchain technology, along with AI, ML, and Big Data, is evolving much faster than expected. We already have functional decentralized internet platforms such as Blockcstack. Furthermore, we have several DApps such as OpenBazaar, Graphite Docs, and so on.
Low-scalability, among other factors, is a major challenge that hinders the mainstreaming of blockchain technology. Thus, of Web 3.0, big names such as IBM and Ethereum are already on track to developing “solutions” for the same. And, as pilot projects are increasingly rolling out and tasking success, investments are also flowing into the DWeb market.
In all, the advent of a decentralized internet controlled by sovereign users appears to be more imminent than not.