"Blockchain and Bitcoin point to a future and a world where content exists forever, where it is permanent, where it doesn't go away, where it exists forever on every single node that is connected to it," said Jack Twitter CEO Dorsey recently said when he advocated a decentralized social media standard.
That same week, the European Union (EU) announced that it was preparing for another big tech challenge. According to the Digital Services Act proposed by the block, the companies that have the huge amounts of data on the Internet, platforms such as Amazon and Google, would be forced to make the data collected available to smaller competitors.
This post is part of CoinDesk's 2020 Year in Review – a collection of posts, essays, and interviews about the year in Crypto and beyond. Colin Evran is the Filecoin Ecosystem Lead.
It is noteworthy that regulators from Ireland to the US have a coordinated responsibility to support antitrust measures aimed at making the internet a fairer place. Jack Dorsey has spoken out against the current structure of the Internet and is the latest tech entrepreneur to voice the conversation about reshaping the Internet as we know it. It's a conversation that has gotten louder and louder over the past few months.
Today we are failing Web 2.0, the model that determines how we locate all data on the Internet. We don't need to list the numerous data hacks and breaches, instances of government electoral manipulation, and the scourge of fake news that are hard to avoid online.
Even more problematic is the fact that we lose valuable data every day. Currently, only 7% of the data generated is actually stored. And that rate will decrease over time – probably to 5% over the next five years. However, current cloud storage infrastructure is unable to keep up with the data we produce as a species increasing by over 30% annually.
The vision for Web 3.0 is to make all applications, data and use cases of the Internet completely verifiable. Adding the verification feature means that a central middleman like a bank or a large tech company that claims they control your money or data can be asked to back up that claim and prove exactly what action they are taking with that data . Web 3.0 was designed to bring trust or verifiability to the web.
See also: Juan Benet: From Idea to Action
On the 50th anniversary of the Internet, Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the World Wide Web, raised concerns about the future of the Internet. He addressed questions of increasing centralization, an imbalance of power in contradiction to the original design principles of the Internet, with which the goal of decentralizing information should be achieved.
In recent years, big tech conglomerates like Facebook and Google have turned this concept on its head and stored data on closed platforms. So when you think of Web 2.0, all of the value of the ecosystem recently has been built on the companies and platforms that built on the protocols, not necessarily the protocols themselves. The decentralization of information is one of the cornerstones of Web 3.0. The next question is how do we get there.
As Dorsey suggested, a decentralized web (dWeb) will be created along with Ben Horowitz and Tim Berners-Lee, who are also committed to making changes by putting their names and money behind blockchain technology to update the web, the foundation for the next generation of the Internet – Web 3.0.
That collective dream of a future internet where content exists forever and error 404 is a distant memory could become a reality if the internet's data is successfully removed by the big tech oligopoly.
This is, by and large, exactly what the EU regulation seeks to achieve: equitable sharing of global knowledge and shifting control from a handful of money-hungry companies whose corporate interests do not ensure the diffusion of factual information or the preservation of human history prioritize online.
Error 404 Frustration, known as Link Red, occurs when a webpage, such as an old blog, is deleted, and when it disappears, your access to it disappears too. The problem may be that whoever paid for that particular blog on the internet stopped doing it and the content went away.
This is annoying at best, but it becomes even more worrying when the source you're trying to access is a national archive or, as was the case in Turkey in 2017, when that design flaw allows a government to access theirs restrict citizens from accessing basic online services like Wikipedia. The solution to this internet light switch, which triggers companies and governments can pull the plug with, is to change the addressing of the data on the internet.
With Web 3.0, a decentralized system is not subject to the original publisher paying to keep the blog in the public domain, but rather to have anyone interested in that information keep it.
See also: Pooja Shah – How Web 3.0 creates value for users, not platforms
This distribution model allows anyone who wants to pay to hold certain information, to any storage provider who wants to be paid to hold that information, or to anyone who wants to use it. Regardless of the actions of the original publisher, the user network of this new, trusted version of the Internet can still access and read it once the data is part of the public record.
To put this in the context of social media, as Dorsey envisions, video footage of world events would not be lost or tampered with and memories of humanity would remain. There are thousands of projects inspired by the decentralized movement, alarmed by the fragility of today's internet, working tirelessly to develop solutions for internet overhaul.
By the end of 2020, there will be no lack of the signifiers of change. Every day we are approaching Web 3.0, an Internet that we can trust.
Year in Review is a collection of posts, essays, and interviews about the year in Crypto and beyond.