Web 3.0 Over Blockchain: Reclaiming the Nostalgia
The idea of the decentralized web is undying.
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Web 3.0, a phrase coined in the year 2006, has been bandied about since then. A decade has gone by, and yet, the moniker is still trying to find its meaning and a means to shape itself. No matter how we choose to define it, in essence, it is going to be a web connecting everything in this world — the living and the non-living — where computing devices will be more aware of the environment, context, interaction, and usage patterns.
The new web will transform the Internet infrastructure from traditional supportive role to a protagonist entity in web content processing and decision making.
While this will see a rise of machines, this will also witness an explosion in Internet data. Our digital self, today, is some bits of fragmented information. But in the world of tomorrow, our digital self will grow to become us. Wandering the vastness of web, fraught with the danger of being mutated or altered, our digital clones would be consumed and monetized by hackers and organizations with farms of Internet devices. This poses a grave threat to security and the invasion for any individual, group, or organization.
The flaws of the existing platform may lead to a digital dystopia. It seems imperative to have a decentralized platform that has no central control, is unhackable, and maintains privacy!
If we want to know the future of the web, we must consult its past.
A Walk Down the Memory Lane
In September 1994, Berners-Lee, creator of the World Wide Web, made the web ecosystem available freely for its easy public adoption. And thus, the Web 1.0 was born. The early web constituted simple text pages with minimal interaction. The then-existing-ecosystem and cost made it hard to create content and, mostly, some organizations were creating and maintaining their web pages.
With the advent of Web 2.0, the web became highly interactive and produced rich information, including video and audio. It revolutionized every business and industry — to name a few banking, shopping, traveling, renting, medicines, education, literature, entertainment, collaboration, professional, and social networking all became available online. These services also built a strong feedback mechanism to collect the user's data. There was also a rise in platforms like Wikipedia, blogs, social networks (Facebook, Twitter, etc.), Instagram, and YouTube, which made it easy for everybody to produce their own content on the web.
With Web 2.0, the distinction between content producer and the consumer is blurred.
Companies are providing their services and products through the web, which everyone is consuming. Alongside, we are feeding the web with our interests, opinion, views, comments, which are consumed by companies for analysis to improve their services and products. Our data on the web has become an invaluable asset for every business. It has completed the loop; we consume the products, and the products consume us. This is the era of Business of Attention, which has caused an explosion in personal data on the web.
The web grew to uncomprehending enormity. Let's see how does our web look today!
Let's Get Datafied
Today, half of the globe is on the Internet. (Source)
The number of indexed web pages has grown five times in the last six years. (Source)
We produce 2.5 quintillion bytes of data each day at our current pace, but that pace is only accelerating. In the last two years alone, 90 percent of overall web data was generated (Forbes).
These numbers give us the sense of uncomprehending enormity that the web has grown to. The next web must provide us means to make sense out of this obscured and ever-growing vastness.
Web 3.0: The Web of Tomorrow
With Web 3.0, computing devices will become ingenious and a protagonist entity. All of the IoT devices would become the producer of events, actions, content. They, along with the web hosting and computing devices, would become the consumer of the content to be able to acquire knowledge, provide information that is contextually meaningful, perform analyses, help in decision making, and initiate required actions.
Today, the web has become a way of life for us. On an average, we spend close to four hours every day online (Source). As we search, read, watch, listen, interact, upload, download, work, research, plan, travel, and consume any service or do any activity, our every move is watched by various web service providers with or without our consent. Our digital self is being harvested on the farm of Internet machines for trade. They live there without our control over them and without adequate protection. It gets only worse as we enter into the space of Web 3.0 and IoT, where we will be connected with machines more than ever. Consequently, our digital selves will grow to become us and in control of those, owning the farm of internet machines. The ill-consequences of all this is hard to overestimate.
There are enough instances and pieces of evidence to realize that large organizations and government bodies attempt to stretch and overstep their authority. And thus, entrusting our information to organizations, in general, is a fundamentally broken model. The chance of an organization not meddling with our data is merely the effort required minus the expected gains. Given they have an income model that requires them knowing as much about people as possible; the realist will realize that the potential for covert misuse is hard to overestimate.
Besides, as the data resides with these organizations, data protection from theft is of utmost importance to avoid any misuse from any hacker. If you ever thought that your data is somewhat safe; as we proceed, you will realize, how threatening the reality is!
Being Datafied Again!
A glimpse of world's biggest breaches in recent past. Click on the image to read details.
Data breaches are projected to become close to three times just in a matter of five years.
Cost of the data breach is in trillions and is projected to grow five times just in a matter of five years.
These numbers look alarming and leave us thinking the web is broken! Has the utopian 90's web been replaced by digital feudalism? Is there any hope for salvation?
The Web, as envisioned, was not controlled by any authority, organization, or individual.
The Democratic Web: Of the people, By the people, and For the people.
In its early days, few organizations produced the content while the rest just consumed. There was no central control over the data produced or consumed. The content resided with its creator and was owned by them.
Web 2.0 brought in radical changes in web usage. In the hindsight, it also led to shifting in control on data from the creator to web service providers, as the data produced by all of us resided on their machines.
All the instances of data misuse and data breaches are bespeaking of the evil inside. One might think of GDPR enforcement as the salvation. But enforcement is only suppressive; it can alleviate but not eliminate the problem.
"Peace produced by suppression is neither natural nor permanent."
Amidst this digital chaos, the advent of blockchain caught immediate attention as privacy and decentralization is intrinsic to this platform. Though blockchain shows the promise, it requires an overhaul of the existing ecosystem to turn it into a decentralized web. There have been some efforts going on towards that; however, disruption of this scale is a long haul. So, we may not see complete decentralization happening anytime soon; instead, the web likely will be fragmented and will stay that way for a while.
The Fragmented Web
The Centralized Web is going to exist in its current form and shape — for, it is the usual way and proven system to run the business. The Intersecting Web is mainly centralized but with some goodness of decentralized system, e.g. transparency, immutability, provenance, eliminating middleman, simplifying business network, etc. The Decentralized Web is purist, adopting the philosophy of no central control.
Return, Reclaim, Restore, Rebuild
So far, we have learned a great deal, and we have learned a great deal that's alarming. While the usual way creeps in and settles within, we know that set methods have only set results. If we recognize the threat that is lurking around, we will realize that the web must evolve. Caught up with the idea of the utopian people's web, until just yesterday, we didn't know of the means to achieve it. Amidst all this, with the advent of the blockchain, the idea of the decentralized web has caught the imagination of few and an attempt is being made to take that nostalgic turn and restore the good old decentralized people's web.
We, humans, ever have been, and ever shall be, animated by the same passions, and thus the events of the future resemble those of preceding time.
The Decentralized Web, arguably, will fix the flaws of the existing platform. It will restore the old democratic web by decentralizing the existing web ecosystem and returning the control of data to its rightful owner — it's creator!
The Decentralized Web will be free from any central control. And thus, it will set people free from being watched, spied upon, directed, checked, regulated, indoctrinated, preached at, controlled, estimated, valued, censured, or commanded.
If it sounds Anarchic! It's just democracy taken more seriously!
This scale of disruption requires a revolution. And, we must revolutionize to rid the dread.
Revolution is our obligation and our hope for evolution.
There is an ongoing effort to consolidate and build technology to provide the platform for decentralized web, which will be based on the blockchain. Here is a diagram describing technology stack for a decentralized web - the web of future - the web 3.0. The diagram also names some of the technologies that are being built across the stack.
The idea of the decentralized web is undying. The new web is slowly taking its shape and will continue to grow thereafter. If it has caught your imagination too, then be part of it.
Published at DZone with permission of Rohit Kumar. See the original article here.
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