Who Runs the Web …And Why Change is Life-Saving

The internet of today is nowhere near where it was a decade ago. The sporadic occurrence of web-based startups gave way to some of the largest corporate empires in the modern world. The free-spirited and ugly nomadic environment of the early internet turned into a dystopian mogul-owned cloud hanging over the modern world.

We’ve voluntarily given up the ability to choose where to search information, keep our data, connect with other people, express ourselves, and talk in private.

We’ve traded all of that for unnecessary convenience, dictated values, visual ecstasy, and social clubs acceptance.

So far the internet has passed through two formations: Web 1.0 and Web 2.0. From content consumption to content creation, the demand got us to the point where changes had to be done again. Web 3.0 is what the change came to be.

Water will find a way…

The need for a “better” internet became obvious when dirty politics and lobbying started using the web as their primary source of influence. When you don’t know who to trust, you don’t trust anybody at all. It was a matter of time that various technologies ranging from cryptocurrencies to secure messaging and anonymous browsing aligned to contribute to the new internet – Web 3.0.

What has been intentionally and unintentionally centralized, now starts to scatter in every direction putting a user in control.

But how is is web 3.0 any different? Why decentralized vendors of software and technologies matter? How does it affect our lives?

Over the years that web technology has been around, we’ve witnessed a bunch of pivots, changes, and major shifts. Those result not only from the improved hardware abilities but also the philosophy of the internet that constantly changes. We moved from reading the static pages to running complete interaction-based web applications. The websites that were meant to improve our well-being turned into the media dictating our tastes.

Web 3.0 premise

Being the natural phenom, this improvement led some of us into a position of unprecedented power. Digital monopolies emerged from the murky waters of the internet. Not all of them were bad in the first place.

Google is awesome and most of the products it produces are great products. However, it feels like you don’t need anything but Google. My mom taught me to keep cash in a few different places when I was traveling as a kid.

  • Allegedly, Google keeps track of every single click you do on the internet.
  • No wonder hackers can use Google as a basic source for information collection.
  • Search results also belong to Google which makes the biggest search engine not an even playing field.
  • With all the data at its disposal, it’s impossible that all that all the information is safe and secure doesn’t violate international laws and doesn’t guarantee you won’t get in trouble because of that.
  • Google owns the largest mobile phone OS in Android, which makes Google the ultimate monopolist of all things internet.

Google is cool but the fact that such an overwhelming platform can exist with all the possible outcomes of things going wrong with it is way too dangerous.

Same way, Facebook runs our personal data, messaging, memories, and preferences. As shown by the last presidential campaign, this data is far from being safe. With that, we’ve witnessed show trials over some messaging services while the others remain intact, which leaves doubts concerning ethical questions.

Add to that the commercial giants and you’ll get a monstrous loop sealing in all your possible needs. Where Amazon does business, there is no place for anyone else. Google controls your knowledge and Facebook is now your social exoskeleton.

Who Runs the Web ...And Why Change is Life-Saving | Shakuro

Image credit: Metin Seven

With all the technology under someone’s control, we got used to the trade-off between functionality and command.

Whatever you have control of is so insignificant, it makes no sense using it, while most of the usable digital tech is out of your control.   

The beauty of the internet early on was in the accessibility of the coolest stuff without any consequences. Take whatever you find and do what you want with it. The legal regulation put an end to the Wild West Web and made us pay for everything. Using free resources and platforms? Be ready to be used by them in return.

The Web 3.0 concept came to change that. You have to be able to use the internet without being manipulated by giant companies. Net neutrality was put in danger for everybody to finally understand – the internet has to be an even playing field. There are enough battles under the carpet going on in all the major industries. There is no need to contribute to including the internet to those.

Web 3.0 is term unifying all the practices of building independent technologies and providing better options.

This approach does not require the destruction of the existing structure but helps regenerate what works best. The way Web 3.0 is looking to re-establish control over the internet is done from the bottom up via the blockchain technology, cryptoeconomics, P2P commerce, encrypted data, open source frameworks, and decentralized DNS.

In general, anything that perpetuates distancing from the centralized web services and allows users to be in control of their digital identities can be related to Web 3.0.

Who Runs the Web ...And Why Change is Life-Saving | Shakuro

Saving diversity

So what are the main assets that can make Web 3.0 possible? The prerequisite of Web 3.0 is the right mindset of new generation online entrepreneurs. The old ways led to the demise of all legal protections against content discrimination on the internet. What was referred to as net neutrality is apparently dead.

In a nutshell, internet providers will now be free to restrict access and charge more for whatever services they want.

The services and platform in their turn can now manipulate their budgets to appear more frequently in specific places for specific groups of users. Paid prioritization deals now allow carriers to boost specific companies and products, depending on what makes them the most money.

“Paving over the internet into fast lanes for those who can afford to pay and slow lanes for the rest of us will turn the web into a place where the wealthiest and most powerful can be heard, while ordinary people and alternative voices are drowned out.” – Evan Greer, director, Fight For The Future.

As a counter to this, the Web 3.0 approach can potentially mitigate this vicious circle, but as we mentioned above, this requires a change in the mindset. The following assets are to be considered and studied in the first place.  

Decentralized services

Most of the services used by modern online entrepreneurs are provided by a handful of corporations. Google and Amazon services give a 360-degree coverage to most of the internet’s business needs. Safe to say, who runs the services, runs the web. Through these services, the companies control the third-party applications and impact the trends of development.

Luckily, there might be other options. Products and services do not necessarily have to be owned by someone. Just like the blockchain technology, there is no CEO of Bitcoin (or at least one we’d be aware of).

The decentralized systems serve to no specific group of users’ interests and the mechanisms of influence are so complicated, it makes no sense trying to centralize it.

Decentralization is only possible within the open-source scenario. The multiple choice option is a prerequisite. For example, a bunch of individual applications developed by various companies all work within one open-source ecosystem. Every client-side application pushes whatever it has to, offer different features but all the applications observe certain rules that are commonly put together and don’t belong to anybody.

What’s more important, there will be no validator apart from a composite-character user that really is the only validator there should be.

Some of the guidelines are generally useful, but it leaves an open window for API access revoke based on not only poor UX or community rules violation, but also a different performance that might put a service’s monopoly in danger. It will allow developers to run with the neutral open-source companies and concentrate on a healthy competition between one another. The idea of restricting major companies’ control over the web-based services is as relevant as never before. Competing for the user has to be the objective. Not competing for the platform of service vendor acceptance.

There are some good examples of free end-to-end encryption-based messengers like Cyphr, Telegram, Wire, etc., that use only a minimal amount of metadata stored in their servers temporarily until the messages are received.  

In a way, web service decentralization leaves no chance for a temptation for companies to become evil.

Who Runs the Web ...And Why Change is Life-Saving | Shakuro

Image credit: NowSourcing

Coins

In the recent years, the world has witnessed a drastic change in the way we perceive financial flows. For the first time, traditional financial systems got outshined by cryptocurrencies. In a lot of ways, being a natural response to the crooked financial systems, the occurring of cryptocurrencies are still out of establishment control.

Cryptocurrencies are entirely autonomous. They need no brick-and-mortar offline systems to be bound to. All they need is the internet connection. The internet money need no paper or gold. Digital money is the technology. Internet money takes the banks out of the equation. It enables users to lower the costs of some interactions, it knows no borders, limitations, and compatibility. It’s a huge step towards cryptoeconomics.

Cryptoeconomics is the use of incentives and cryptography to design new kinds of systems, applications, and networks.

The autonomy of cryptocurrencies is provided by a decentralized principle as well. There are no authorities and even though engagement patterns might vary in size and intensity, I think a perfect analogy would be a waterhole for a wide variety of animals all equally dependent on it with no one in particular owning it.

https://shakuro.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/Cai-Guo-Qiang-Heritage-Wateringhole-99-life-sized-replicas-of-various-animals-water-sand-2013-Brisbane-Gallery-of-Modern-Art-1.jpg

The Web 3.0 decentralized cryptoeconomics is not a state, it’s more of an approach to handling finance. There is no “to-be-decentralized” service list, instead, this means the unlimited amount of services available for specific needs.

For example, Bitcoin is secure from censorship by any type of authority which means it lacks the leverage for deflationary measures and cannot be held back for artificial reasons. This is the inconsistency that makes Bitcoin consistent. The fact that cryptocurrency trends and admissions are not easy to comprehend and control, resulted in giving its functionaries the fame of “financial rogues”.

This reflects the underlying principle of digital currency design – allow people to join someone’s money-and-credit ecosystem based on the preferences of their own.

Personal data and identity

Social media giants are bubbles. They are non-existent without all the personal data and user-generated content that we voluntarily put out. Empty networks are the saddest thing on the internet. Remember Vero? And yet, we end up being the commodity for those social networks.

Our identities belong to the companies we came to at will. The centralized data portals will protect their wealth which is your data. The solution to this problem can be found within the two previous principles. The existence of cryptocurrency along is defined by the private data that belongs to a user only.

Decentralized identity services will not be able to manipulate your data, analyze it, and impact the society based on the information given. This will only be possible if the users voluntarily contribute to such “research”.

This will turn media giants like Facebook not get paid for your data, but pay you instead!

The same way, people’s’ creative work, inventions, and novelties will not belong to the media providing the estate for those assets to be unfolded on.

Who Runs the Web ...And Why Change is Life-Saving | Shakuro

Image credit: Radu Vilcu

Takeaways

A programmer André Staltz wrote an article called “The Web Began Dying in 2014”, where he points out the fact that the modern tech giants made us orget what the internet was like, with the ability to remain anonymous “or how easy it was to start an internet startup with its own independent servers operating with the same rights GOOG servers have”.

The excessive control companies have over web services, money, and identities, allows them to potentially deny our access to the things we currently take for granted. The Trifecta supervises our daily information exchange and the more complicated it gets, the more control is slipping out of our hands. The change comes under the umbrella term of Web 3.0. Aimed at fixing the problem of compromised internet diversity, Web 3.0 relies on decentralization of basic technologies, cryptoeconomics, and unadopted user data as the core of the new-age internet.

The power of the existing political systems got inlined into the web and contaminated much of its best abilities. However, if the change might happen, we have to push the restraints on the degrees of control we allow over ourselves. As digital developers, designers, and influencers, we have our future as our own responsibility and with a chance to take back the internet, we have to change our mindset and use the guerilla power we have while it lasts.