Published on 3rd June, 2021 by Mikkel Bech
Web 3.0 ... or why we built the wrong internet
web 3.0 graphics © BechBox
The world wide web was supposed to be the ultimate decentralized super democratic network where everybody would own and govern his or her little corner. That was the dream back then ... but it ended up in the most centralized and top down controlled structure you could ever imagine with essentially less than a handful of way too powerful companies owning it all. We need to do better than that ... and we actually have a pretty good shot at right now because of blockchain. The blockchain is not only a new technology, it represent a whole new paradigm shift in the way we do financial transactions, store value, govern, build services etc ... in short it will affect almost everything. Many believe it will be the biggest transformation of society since the industrial revolution ... or maybe even the biggest transformation ever because of the potential enormous re-distribution of wealth.
It is big and it is a little hard to grasp, so here I'll try to give an example of how a web 2.0 service got it all wrong and how it could look in a web 3.0 version. Let's take a look at Instagram from an end user perspective: basically as a content creator you work for free at Instagram (owned by Facebook) - essentially they own the platform, your followers, the right to censor your content and ultimately they own the content you created for them. And it get's worse - they can shut you out of what you thought was your own following! But most importantly they own the rights to monetize your content and they do so by placing ads all over and collecting 100% of the revenue. To take this even a step further, they force you the content creator to pay to promote your content if you want anyone to see it! To me this is the epitome of how we didn't want the web to become!
So how could a social media network like Instagram look in a web3 version? Let's imagine a company YourChain building a photo/video sharing tool much like Instagram. YourChain is built on blockchain technology and what they do is they make the code available as Open Source on github, but to be paid for time spent building and maintaining the tool, they use a fundamental mechanism for blockchain called a Smart Contract. The rules in this Smart Contract ensures that of all financial transactions done using YourChain 1% of the amount will be paid to a wallet controlled by YourChain (a wallet is like a bank account for crypto currencies). On top of the YourChain code operators are needed, so other companies can act as an operator of the YourChain code and provide the service to the end user. These operators has more expenses than YourChain and perhaps take 5% of transactions. The end user - you, the content creator - OWNS the content and the right to monetize it, so if you decide to run ads on your content you get all the revenue except the small fees built into the Smart Contracts. Further due to the cryptographic nature of the blockchain, neither the operator or YourChain will be able to gather data about your content or how your visitors interact with it.
To me this sounds like a much more healthy and sustainable web for content creators ... and companies as well, just not the multi-billion-dollar super centralized ones. I even think we will see a huge explosion of investment into culture even by retail investors based on new mechanism like the one fleshed out here.