By Marko Prljic
I had the amazing experience of 2amigos sending me to the Web3 Summit this year. For three days in Berlin, I mingled and talked with people from everywhere who are working to create a robust, user-friendly, decentralized web.
I’ve summarized my notes from some of the presentations I heard and organized them into two blog posts. Part 1 describes the Web3 Summit and includes my notes on:
- Principle differences between governance with Web 2.0 and Web 3.0
- Decentralization in the Information Age
Web3 is part of the Web3 Foundation, which is dedicated to building an internet where users are in control of their own data, identity, and destiny. The Foundation’s primary project is @polkadotnetwork.
The Web3 Summit is a gathering of more than 1,000 developers, researchers, and interested parties. It’s an open source gathering created to enhance the collaborative ideas and outcomes brought about by IRL proximity.
It’s nearly the end of 2018 and we’re moving from a pre-computing to a post computing civilization. This transition is a momentous occasion happening to our species. Further it’s occurring rapidly. Events are in motion right now and we’re taking part in them. The importance of this occurrence should give all of us pause because of the responsibility it places on each and every one of us.
- The transition to a post-computing environment affects nearly everyone on the planet. With this fact in mind, we need to think carefully, not only about what we’re building, but also consider how we can avoid breaking things along the way.
- The Internet is built simply on wires and networks. Web 1.0 was the first stage of the web and it was fairly simple. Web 1.0 mostly contained read-only content and static pages with the purpose of simply displaying links and content. Web 2.0 was widely read-write and put the focus on user-generated content. Web 2.0 utilized more dynamic content that users could interact with. For example, think of social media — Facebook or YouTube — where general users could add content and share information.
- Web 3.0 bridges gaps and makes the blockchain system accessible to everyone. It does what Bitcoin did for remittances. However, Web 3.0 applies to a greater variety of services, not simply money. Bitcoin reminded everyone that we can build peer-to-peer (P2P) systems and rework how the web operates.
- The ability to create a verifiable event is the key property in this entire space. Verifiable means that an event can be checked, or demonstrated, to be true. At any point when a user makes a social contact with another user, that contact can be verifiable, resilient, and ethical. So, like with Bitcoin, all parties can check the records and verify the history of transactions for themselves.
Web 2.0 versus Web 3.0 Governance
Large technology corporations (Google, Facebook, Amazon, Netflix, and such) took control of governance and its associated challenges with Web 2.0. This control was exerted mainly through the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), which determined how standards were formed and protocols were developed. Only organizations may join and participate in W3C. A primary goal of W3C is to ensure that users of the Web are getting the best possible experience. However, user interests and corporate interests frequently don’t align.
So far, neither nations nor corporations have captured Web3 governance and we as interested users have the possibility to represent the public interest. We can prevent another corporate/nation state capture of Web 3.0 if:
- Services and governance are provided on a decentralized, multi-jurisdictional basis
- Governance decisions require more broad-based discussion than in Web 2.0
- Legitimacy is international and broad-based
Controlling governance (and access) with Web 3.0 is supremely difficult for national interests to accomplish. It’s this reality that we at 2amigos believe has prompted China to take steps in creating a separate Internet.
The potential challenges from such an action are far reaching and global in nature. According to former Google CEO Eric Schmidt, >A separate internet with which the Chinese government can do whatever it wants means a lot more than separate Google search results and restricted social media. Firewalls can be penetrated and servers can be hacked, but a separate internet altogether would cut Chinese people off from the rest of the world, and the rest of the world from its people. A separate internet with which the Chinese government can do whatever it wants means a lot more than separate Google search results and restricted social media. Firewalls can be penetrated and servers can be hacked, but a separate internet altogether would cut Chinese people off from the rest of the world, and the rest of the world from its people.
We’re at a critical tipping point in the development of an accessible Internet for all global users. We must take responsibility for legitimizing a system that isn’t susceptible to corporate or hostile nation-state takeovers.
Decentralization in the Information Age
Yet, organizing humans is a difficult task. Evolution has given humans innate social tools, but they seem to work only up to a point.
Upon starting a new project/business we don’t say ,“Yes, we know how to organize people, we know how to do this product.” We explore. We try different approaches.
Since we have different skill sets, and motivations, we must acknowledge our diversity and make allowances for it in the form of flexibility and adaptability.
Centralization seems like an easy thing for operational efficiency and easy to understand. It satisfies our human need for order and stability.
However, Web 3.0 is more decentralized than its predecessors. While we can’t escape the emergent effects of decentralization, we can work to understand them.
Old trade-offs can be overcome with organizational tools that will arise from those that we’re building today, such as Git, Github and Blockchain platforms which have decentralization under the hood.
We need to cooperate regarding the constant effort needed to drive society forward. This cooperation included building tools that encourage good in society by using alignment and incentives, such as new reputation systems. We need a more explicit the role of identities we have when we interact with the rest of the society to achieve a balance between privacy and transparency.
With the changes created by our post-computing, Web 3.0 environment, software is eating economics, and it’s eating the law. The Internet is becoming a nation. Now is the time to bake in human rights and lock the web open.
To make this happen, Web 3.0 goals need to include:
- Minimizing the trust we must put in any single party through trustless infrastructure
- Removing intermediaries so users and peers can interact directly
- Giving users power and ownership over their data, identity security and transactions
- Linking data and programs, cryptographic, verifiability, transaction processing, P2P connectivity, and trustless interoperability securely
A decentralized web with blockchain and linked data gives us Web 3.0. This means that we must take global responsibility for data governance decisions and decentralization challenges going forward.