The early internet was a wild place. Browser developers waged virtual “wars” to capture the most usage from users, both new and old. Back then, we were awe-inspired just by the idea of the “information superhighway”. There was just the web. Now we’re talking about web3. How did we get here and what does web3 mean for us users of the internet?
Digg, a popular community-sourced news website, changed things. Unlike traditional news sites like Slashdot, which required the whole webpage to be reloaded to fetch information, new web technologies allowed for in-place information updates that were based on user-submitted content. This update is a boon to devices with limited bandwidth since a few bytes would need to be transmitted instead of reloading the entire page. This more inclusive version of the web became known as Web 2.0 and is more or less where things currently stand. However, now that we have blockchains, what do the internet of value and decentralized storage mean for our worldwide web?
The first piece of the new web puzzle comes from Bitcoin. As the first blockchain cryptocurrency token with a tradable value, Bitcoin provides the internet with a native payment method. No longer being tied to traditional payment networks like credit cards frees technologists allows for innovation in the payments and finance industries. Once value transfer is as fast as the internet, new possibilities such as microtransactions enable all sorts of new revenue models.
Given the recent revelations about how much data is being tracked and watched by large corporations and governments, people have become increasingly cautious about what information they share. One obvious example of this is sharing credit card details over the internet to make a purchase. Although we have technology like SSL to secure our browser connections, the data is often retained by the seller and can end up in the hands of hackers who steal it from poorly secured databases. The solution is to reveal less information and ensure that it is encrypted when needed. Building an improved web atop the latest cryptographic technologies will help ensure users of the internet can keep
Blockchain is a great innovation, but this new technology has a direct cost that isn’t conducive to storing large things like pictures and videos.“So how do we inherit all the unique properties of blockchains without storing data on a blockchain? Using special cryptographic properties, it’s possible to split up large files into smaller chunks which can be individually encrypted and stored in other locations. The final piece is to store a unique indicator of the file structure in the blockchain for safekeeping. By using this linking technique, we get the antifragile properties of web3 without bloating the blockchain with unnecessary data. For more information on decentralized storage, click here.
If all this anonymity makes you wonder about how we’ll deal with trust and reputation online, then you’re not alone. We already have a digital identity online that is made up of all our data uploaded to social media and other websites. The major problem is that we don’t own or control that data. Blockchain technology can enable digital uniqueness that will help users deal with an increasingly digital world.
At the start of the internet, it would have been very difficult to anticipate the problems our internet would create in the future. As the web has developed, certain problems have made themselves clear. Data privacy is nearly non-existent, and interacting via the web puts people’s personal data at risk. Additionally, the internet is facilitated by a series of servers that can each act as a single point of failure. Web3 is about creating a more resilient, democratized internet. However, there are barriers preventing blockchain technology from mass adoption.