Moxie Marlinspike >> Blog >> My first impressions of web3 - Deepstash

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What is web3?

web1: The internet circa 1994 -2004. Static pages, small but decentralized group of creators. Passive consumers. Accessed by PCs.

web2: 2004 to present day. Content is centralized to social media platforms owned by a handful of tech companies. Blurred line between content producer and consumer. Accessed by mobile devices

web3: The future?? Blockchain protocols promise the richness and accessibility of web2 with the decentralization benefits of web1.

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Centralization of the Internet: Pros/Cons

Pros

  1. Convenience. People do not want to run their own servers. The centralized model is less hassle for the users.
  2. Feature-richness. Innovation is faster on a centralized platform than on a decentralized protocol. (Because of the profit motive.)

Cons:

  1. Government control. Governments only need to pressure a handful of companies to exercise control over the internet.
  2. Power concentration. The tech companies themselves are too powerful, and serve their own agenda when banning/promoting content.
  3. No ownership. You do not have full rights over the content you made or bought when it's on a platform.

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Web3: The Failed Promise of Decentralization

In theory, the blockchain protocol is decentralized because the "content" (ledger) exists on multiple nodes (servers) and no node is privileged over another. When nodes disagree, a consensus algorithm determines the "correct" node, which will be different from moment to moment.

In practice, people don't access the blockchain by running their own nodes. Since each node contains the entire history of the ledger, you can't run it on a mobile app. Instead, a few companies have published APIs for interacting with the blockchain and the wallet apps (that people actually use) just make API calls. 

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Why it's unlikely to change

  • The same market forces that caused web1 to centralize into web2 are at play here.
  • No counter-force is pushing towards decentralization. The huge increase in retail cryptocurrency investors and their use of apps like Coinbase suggest they do not actually care about decentralization.
  • It's hard to design content and apps for the blockchain. Decentralized systems are inherently complicated. Unlike web1 where anyone with a text editor could write HTML and create a webpage, the ability to produce content for a blockchain is likely to remain in the hands of a few, tending towards centralization.

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Some Responses from Dan Findlay, developer at MetaMask

What Moxie Missed on Web3 Wallets

Bottom line: the tech is still evolving. It may change for the better!

  • Right of exit: a wallet's main function is to store your public and private key. Not your crypt assets. Wallets are portable--anyone can switch to a different wallet app that uses a different API to interact with the blockchain and still retain their crypto assets. This isn't true of web2 social media platforms.
  • Blockchain != no trust, it just means no trust required. It frees up companies and users to develop their own trust arrangements, such as through smart contracts.

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Why it matters

Decentralization is the main selling point of blockchain tech. If the Bitcoin ledger was replaced overnight by a big database, it could continue to function. People could buy and sell Bitcoins by appending the database table with their transaction. But the appeal would be gone, because this system would be no different than a regular bank account with regular money.

The same is true of NFTs. If you replace the NFT system with a database of people owning links to artwork, who would be interested in paying money for an entry in that database?

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CURATED BY

deewg

I like math, data, science, programming, and game design.

Some great thoughts on web3 and whether it can be used for more than money laundering or a big Ponzi scheme...

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