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