Over the past 6 months, various media outlets have struggled to provide an answer to the question “what is Web3.”
At the same time, “Web3” has come under intense skepticism, mostly from people who are fundamentally skeptical of cryptocurrencies in general.
Some people are optimistic about cryptocurrencies but skeptical about how “Web3” is positioned, and I would like to give some perspective from their perspective.
As many “What is Web3” explainers have pointed out, Ethereum co-founder Gavin Wood first coined the term in the cryptographic context in 2014.
Gavin Wood’s vision boils down to hosting the majority of data on the web through decentralized technology. So instead of being hosted on servers run by corporate giants like Google, static files are distributed through a censorship-resistant network of cooperating nodes. To manage mutable state, a distributed transaction consensus engine (like Ethereum) can be used. In this vision of rebuilding the internet, every “like”, every “tweet”, every “share” presumably needs to go through a heavyweight consensus engine (blockchain) to avoid trusting those companies to manage our valuable data.
To anyone who interacts with blockchains a lot today, or is familiar with how they work from an engineering perspective, this may already sound flippant, but to its credit, the initial blog post contains at least some close to actual technical scenarios content – this is more telling than later iterations. Wood lists 4 main necessary components of the technology stack needed to realize his vision of a fully decentralized web:
- Static content publishing: Wood describes a scheme that sounds like Filecoin and IPFS, an encrypted local file hosting service used in many Ethereum-based NFTs. In Wood’s vision, all static content will be hosted by such a system.
- Dynamic Messaging: Wood describes an encrypted peer-to-peer messaging system. Arguably, this need is already being met by a service like Telegram (though in Wood’s view it will be a lower-level, internet-wide service).
- No need for trusted transactions: this will be the engine that updates all mutable state (something we store in a fast, efficient, scalable way, but obviously to Wood, old-school technologies like relational databases, key-value stores, or whatever other various data stores that exist). Since Wood is still part of Ethereum at this time, Ethereum is considered the “first working” example solution for this article.
- Integrated UI: This will be a new type of browser that will know how to communicate with the layers ahead. Suffice to say, we’ve already seen this part of the game implemented through browser extensions like Metamask.
After this blog post, “Web3” means something concrete from an engineering point of view, and things go downhill from here.
2015 – 2019
During this time, the term “Web 3.0” was widely used to refer to the now-forgotten concept of the “Semantic Web”, and its hype cycle was over.
By 2017, Wood had moved from Ethereum to Polkadot. In 2017, he founded the “Web3 Foundation,” which was used as a vehicle to pre-sell $150 million in DOT tokens for no good reason. Afterwards, Wood released a technical vision for an updated “Web3” technology stack, which apparently required a “layer 0” base technology, which Polkadot will provide.
2018-2019 witnessed a deep bear market “crypto winter”. The crypto-centric concept of “Web3” still hasn’t caught on in the mainstream media.
Sentiment against “Big Tech” has reached fever pitch in the US.
In June 2020, the heads of major tech companies will be brought to Congress for a televised farewell ceremony. On Oct. 6, the House Antitrust Committee released a major report calling for tough new regulations on Big Tech.
. On October 13, 2021, well-known venture capital firm Andreesen Horowitz (Andreesen Horowitz) in “How to Win the Future: An Agenda for the 3rd Generation of Internet” (How to Win the Future: An Agenda for the 3rd Generation of Internet) The book says that “Web3” is a prominent feature of its organizational theme. Their definition of Web3: “a set of technologies that includes blockchains, cryptographic protocols, digital assets, decentralized finance and social platforms, NFTs and DAOs”. As such, this new iteration of Web3 is clearly defined as an all-inclusive hodgepodge. We’ve moved out of the realm of technical vision or roadmaps and into the realm of impact.
a16z’s report taps into the zeitgeist to steer the ethos in favor of crypto-friendly regulation as a solution to all problems.
“Web 2.0 has changed the way our economy and society interact, bringing benefits to society. At the same time, few would question Web 2.0 — social media and today’s big technology platforms. Whether it’s in the public or private sector, Neither has yet found a solution to the problems of privacy violations, disinformation, monopolistic behavior, and algorithmic bias that have characterized the Internet.”
The release of the report represents an upward knee in the “Web3” meme growth chart above. On the Twitter account of a16z partner Chris Dixon alone, we can see from no web3 tweets for the past 6 years to several web3 tweets per week.
Gavin Wood’s version of the Web3 idea wasn’t viable from the start, just a vague sketch of an engineering idea.
In reality, few applications are worth using a decentralized consensus engine to manage their state. But trying to rebuild Web2 platform services like Facebook, Amazon, Google, and Twitter on the blockchain to save us from the evils of “de-platforming” and centralization is completely pointless, even if blockchain L2 improves their scalability. It’s akin to outfitting every aircraft on Earth with the same super-heavy ballistic armor as Air Force 1, forcing passengers to bear the associated costs of unnecessary weight.
Additionally, open-source, self-hosted alternatives like social media platforms already exist. There are many such things. We can already share our thoughts through our own servers, and encryption is simply not the right tool to take back “control of personal data” from those crappy centralized internet advertising and e-commerce companies.
Based on the hypocrisy of this marketing campaign, a new generation of crypto fans may conclude that crypto actually has no value at all. But I think this is wrong. My belief is that crypto is helping to expand the way we think about money and helping to explore the design space of digital assets and digital financial instruments. Fundamentally, crypto APIs are focused on moving digital assets; the only place cryptocurrencies can say “product-market fit” for the past decade or so has been in finance and money. So while trying to predict the ultimate limit of how far encryption can go is insane (like trying to predict the ultimate limit of the early 80’s internet revolution), it’s clear that if encryption is a revolutionary thing, this revolution Should start in the financial domain (note that “financial domain” should be interpreted broadly to include financialized/tokenized digital collectibles or non-financialized, social tokens, etc.). Only when this goal is achieved will we have reason to start talking about re-architecting services that are currently very well served by “centralized” Web2.
This is my main problem with the latest version of Web3: encouraging people to focus their weird and ineffective focus on rebuilding Web2, rather than using the power of cryptocurrency to break the shackles of financial intermediaries.
Web3’s original Gavin Wood vision has been fulfilled in bits and pieces, but as a grand final state there is as much engineering substance behind it as a cloud of smoke (in practice mostly used to popularize Ethereum and Polkadot).
“Web3” is a good term to describe the emerging experience of using browser-based wallet software to log into a web-based DeFi UI that connects to smart contract-based decentralized applications. It’s a bit like what Gavin Wood envisioned, but it’s still within reason and right now.
“Web3” focuses on building and innovation, not just trading and holding. It positions encryption technology as a new stage in the development of the Internet. I love that the cause of crypto-friendly regulation may be advanced as a result. It gives a new generation of users a reason to get excited about the space.
Posted by:CoinYuppie，Reprinted with attribution to:https://coinyuppie.com/why-is-everyone-so-confused-about-web3/
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