WEB3 — what the internet should have been in the first place
In those wonderful early days of the internet and world wide web, we had great visions of how the internet would connect and unite people by making information available and offering communication platforms for everyone who had access to an internet connection. Although we had no idea of what the internet and web would turn into, we were convinced it would be fantastic. Driven by the ideologies of information and education, we did not foresee any wrongdoing that could emerge from giving everyone a voice in our emerging digital world.
We did have a motto called “what one does to the web one does to oneself” and that even made it to being the title of a radio show in The Netherlands. And because our entire energy was focused on the positive sides of our vision, we never realized how true that motto is until it was too late. Much too late, we started to realize that none of us early adopters and researchers had envisioned to dark sides of the internet.
Cybercrime — what started as a bunch of annoying viruses that would make a computer bleep or in same cases did no harm other than spreading to as much systems as possible turned into an industry of crime with ransomware being the current summit of revenue for cybercriminals.
Privacy abuse — the giants of the internet which are not only harvesting and selling personal data, but also abuse their monopoly to determine what we see and consume.
Mass manipulation — fake news beyond the political agendas describes best how social media and internet platforms are used to spread untruths and malicious content to manipulate public opinions and in most cases with full passive or active support of those platforms.
Harmful influence — hyped influencers having a devastating influence on youth by creating false role models and standards.
Cyberbullying — the growing practice of bullying others through the semi-anonymous internet.
Mass surveillance — growing active global mass surveillance of all internet activities.
Yes, we were naïve, all of us, and what became of the internet has nothing to do with the platform to democratize the world we once envisioned. And we must be honest and admit that what one does to the web one does to oneself (and others!).
Where WEB1 (although nobody called it that) was all about making information publicly available, WEB2 introduced rich content and laid the groundwork for data collection, mass surveillance and the addictive flow of content that goes far beyond what the engineers of WEB1 had imagined. WEB3 is not the next level of its predecessors but will by design eliminate some of the main negative side effects of the current internet and everything that happens on it.
WEB3, the next generation of internet, will be decentralized and distributed which eliminates the power of monopoly and corporations, and with that, their capability of abusing private information. Blockchain based technology will play a significant role in making that happen. By becoming decentralized and distributed, it will also eliminate a vast share of the programs which governments use for their global mass surveillance, since there will no longer be a centralized corporation which can be forced to collaborate with for example the Cloud ACT and FISA.
Since information and data will be united with their sources, it will also become significantly easier to validate information, and we can imagine that some people who have elevated becoming famous by spreading untruths will not be very amused about that. Data and content irreversibly united with their source will also have significant benefits for the content creators. Besides finally having an efficient weapon against copyrights infringements and intellectual property theft, it will also enable content creators of all forms to monetize on their work without the corporations offering the platforms consuming the majority of revenue.
WEB3 isn’t finished yet and there are still several issues to be resolved before we can expect a global adoption like the current internet platforms. One project that already shows the full potential of WEB 3 is Ocean Protocol which creates an entire secure ecosystem around publishing, discovering, and consuming data.