The internet is an essential commodity that is evolving and reshaping faster than anybody’s estimation. From desktop to desktop communication of the Web 1.0 era –when it was all about decentralized and community managed— the internet evolved into a more centralized infrastructure in the web 2.0 era, managed and controlled by big corporations like Google —Alphabet Inc (NASDAQ:GOOGL)— Meta Platforms Inc (NASDAQ:FB), Amazon Inc (NASDAQ:AMZN), and Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT).
The world benefited from the advancements of internet infrastructure that were mostly accrued by monopolistic tech giants as they were managing, controlling, and manipulating private data for personal gain.
The hyper dependency on some tech giants forces netizens, developers, and investors to rethink and look for answers so that the internet could be made more decentralized and owned by common people.
The New Web 3.0 Era
Something interesting is happening in the Web 3.0 era with the help of blockchain technology, making it possible to realign the internet with the community-governed and decentralized ethos of the first era, and the functionally advanced infrastructure of the second era.
Be it data collection by a few tech mammoths, third party use with forced authorization, fear of data theft and misuse, surveillance, censorship, or mass outage, the modern internet is facing the challenge of trust deficit, all because of the centralization of the internet infrastructure.
The answer is to re-decentralizing the web and end the monopolization, giving people the same service with better safety and control measures options.
Thanks to investors' interest in making the web free of monopolistic tech giants, several projects are in motion to establish blockchain-based alternative internet, replacing the centralized players with peer-to-peer service providers with the power to monetize digital non-fungible tokens (NFTs).
Some blockchain underdogs are making it possible to decentralize the internet infrastructure. The first objective is to establish peer-to-peer connectivity and then de-monopolize information storing and retrieving.
Unlike current location-centric information storing and fetching, the decentralized web uses secure and encrypted blockchain technology to record data movement, unique user registration, and data storage.
In addition, the decentralized web is all about identifying content as “what” it is rather than “where” it is, thus making peer-to-peer storage and exchange of information possible without dependency on a single server owned and managed by tech giants.
The primary and most crucial component of a decentralized internet is making naming —the lowest layer of the Internet— secure to ensure perfect endpoint matching.
Handshake, a blockchain-powered platform with investment backing from A16Z, Namecheap, and Fred Ehrsam —co-founder of Coinbase— is experimenting with decentralized, permissionless naming protocols validated by peers to end naming monopolization and making domain naming system (DNS) less vulnerable and censorship-free.
Besides completing the monopolization of the ICANN, Handshake is making it possible to register names using a coin/token system. Participants register, transfer, and update internet names using HNS (Handshake coin), initiate auctions, and place bids for top-level domains.
Most importantly, Handshake names are NFTs (non-fungible tokens), digitally unique tokens empowering the creator economy and enabling domain owners to trade their assets anywhere.
But just like bitcoin or Ethereum cryptocurrency non-believers, people are apprehensive about blockchain-based domain name decentralization.
And it is not just Handshake. There are several other apps and programs built on a decentralized model to offer users the same, or even better, services. Be it OpenBazaar —decentralized marketplace, Textile Photos and an Instagram alternative— DTube —like YouTube— or Matrix —a WhatsApp alternative— they are all ready to challenge the current centralized model where users are not in control of their data.
A Boost To The Creator Economy
The Creator economy is already shaping big and going wild across geographies, with over 2 million creative minds earning over a million on Instagram, YouTube, Twitch, and similar platforms. The sponsored influencers are already worth over $8 billion, and it is projected to cross the $15 billion by 2022.
Now, imagine the potential to grow exponentially if the internet is decentralized in favor of creators, making them owners of what they create and monetizing it using highly effective blockchain technology. So, the question isn’t “when” but “how” the transition will happen, as many are apprehensive about user behaviour and its evolution with any specific controls.
So, how will the transition take place? Blockchain enthusiasts believe the user might not even notice the transition. Users will get better services but the change in ownership model might trigger a paid-service revolution, making content creators real winners.
The headache of password memorization might go away forever, as participants will have fully secured uniquely encrypted identities and passwords —just like crypto assets— to connect to a decentralized internet and do whatever they want without the stress of privacy breach or censorship.
The Web 3.0 Challenges
Everything about web 3.0 sounds really tremendous and highly encouraging, but just like other evolving fields, it has hurdles to overcome. The “vastness” of the internet is a significant one, as a decentralized system needs to have operational perfection to control and manage vast amounts of real-time data.
Since identities remain encrypted, managing the vagueness of participants would be challenging –at least in the early days– until some protocol comes into play. The next big challenge is uncertainty, especially when in conflict with the established global norms and standards.
Web 3.0 offers the much-needed freedom from controls, but this itself could be a big contest as people are highly-conditioned to act according to defined rules and regulations for the need of safety. In addition, decentralized behavior capturing, storage, and retrieval of data could create the problem of inconsistency, leading to non-predictive analysis.
It is too early to announce the success of internet decentralization, but it could be easily said that the disruption has begun. The war ahead will be fierce, as tech giants won’t bite the dust so easily.