Blockchain enthusiasts often talk about web3 and the promise of a future decentralized internet. An internet that is run by people (peer-to-peer interactions and democratic decisions) instead of a handful of centralized services (Facebook, Google, Amazon, etc).
Opponents to decentralized platforms worry about the lack of these features. An internet where the “worst” parts of humanity online can thrive, such as cyberbullies, or producers of what’s deemed inappropriate or offensive. However, a democratized internet could still have moderation, just from the community rather than the media company’s board members.
Web1 can be thought of as the static days of the internet. Where you simply looked up pages and there wasn’t any interaction beyond that. Web2 is what we’re in now, where the internet is a hub of global interactivity. The thing is that most of the interactions happen under very few platforms, who own big pieces of the internet.
Some people talk about the Metaverse (a 3D internet that surrounds you) as the next stage of the internet – an element of Web3. Under this definition, a Metaverse is a network of virtual worlds and mixed reality apps run on decentralized platforms, rather than a private virtual reality network like Meta’s idea of a Metaverse.
But – wasn’t Web1 decentralized? What happened in-between?
Web1 was an open standard internet with small communities and individuals coding personal websites on their home servers. But people as a whole gravitate towards outsourcing. Convenience.
Why code a website and hold the server at home when WordPress has their own servers and a fun-looking content-management-system (CMS)? Why add an email link to your personal website when all your friends (and everyone else) are on the hot new social media platform? No coding needed to personalize your page complete with a picture and everything.
So how will the decentralized aspect persist if people move towards services? We’re seeing the same thing with cryptocurrency, originally thought of as decentralized digital money. Why go through the hassle of creating your own crypto wallet from scratch when you can make a quick account on Coinbase (very centralized).
Big centralized companies are buying virtual decentralized land – Web 2 all over again? When Amazon went down the infrastructure of Amazon’s web servers caused several “decentralized” exchanges to crash. Web 2 never left?
NFTs with decentralized file storage, open source 3D platforms, crypto, blockchains, blockchain bridges (like Wormhole) could all be elements of a future web3 Metaverse with interoperability and user autonomy.
These are ideas that don’t have to compete with each other. The real competition is about these decentralized ideas competing with centralized walled garden “Metaverses” like Meta. How can you make decentralized platforms intuitive and effortless for the user?