To understand Web3, you first need to understand Web1 and Web2.
Short history of the Web
The original Internet was invented in the 1970s by the US government to protect its nuclear weapons from hacking.
They realised a single computer controlling all the rockets in peak Cold War was a recipe for disaster. So they built a decentralised network of multiple computers instead.
This meant the US could keep its part of the “mutually assured destruction” bargain even in case of a Soviet cyberattack.
In 1990, the Internet was a bunch of linked computer systems. The net became its first utility, created by Tim Berners-Lee.
Web1 turned into designed as a “hyperlinked facts device.” A large library of data sourced together on a screen from computer systems all across the network for customers to browse by using clicking around related textual content and pictures.
30 years later, three billion users are related to a miles bigger, faster and extra ubiquitous net, powered by means of tremendous facts centres. The clicking round has remained largely the same.
In its early days, the internet turned into a gap tool, used almost completely via lecturers. Mass adoption came five years later with the introduction of browsers like Mosaic and Microsoft Internet Explorer.
These were the good vintage surfing days. You’d dial in. Downloading a image took years. Altavista turned into the default seek engine. Nobody had notion of web layout but.
Decentralised — Powered by regular computers from ordinary users. Open-source — Anyone may want to build on the internet. Read-simplest — Publishing content required a few technical talents, so most users were readers.
Web1’s decentralised infrastructure symbolised its unique ethos. Anyone may want to post facts of any type, to anybody in the global, with out the permission of crucial gatekeepers.
Fast-ahead 10 years, the Wild West had grouped around winners like YouTube, Facebook and Twitter, pulling in large numbers of customers and skills black-hollow fashion.
For the primary time, everyone should post on line. As limitations dwindled, customers and usage surged. The Internet had some thing for all people.
In the backend, three massive shifts fashioned web2 as we know it nowadays:
Mobile — Smartphones circulate us from some hours according to day at our computer systems to "always linked". Apps and notifications rule our lives. Social — Friendster, MySpace and Facebook get us to expose our faces and emerge from anonymity. They make it easy to create, proportion, have interaction and endorse. We cross from sharing photos with buddies to getting into strangers' cars. Cloud — Amazon, Google and Microsoft make it reasonably-priced to build on the net. Instead of having to buy and hold expensive hardware infrastructure, you could now hire it low-cost from sizeable statistics centres round the world.
The Internet has grow to be centralised. It’s basically a group of closed structures interacting with every different.
Big Tech is extracting you
As we unexpectedly received get right of entry to to more human beings, ideas and technologies than our brains knew what to do with, the central structures blew up like mushroom clouds, consolidating network consequences into monopoly electricity.
Networks come to be exponentially more precious as they gain greater users. You be part of WhatsApp to speak in your buddies. Mom joins WhatsApp to speak to you. Dad joins WhatsApp to talk to mom. Before you understand it, the complete world uses WhatsApp. You cannot leave.
In February 2021, WhatsApp changed its privateness rules in a take-it-or-go away-it statement: it'd harvest greater consumer statistics for profit. Millions swore they might ditch the app for extra personal options — which include yours honestly. Not enough to get away the network's gravitational pull, it seems. While many chat on Signal and Telegram these days, few controlled to get off WhatsApp completely. You nonetheless need to speak to Mom and Mom nonetheless wishes to talk to Dad.
In this digital generation, client cost is a direct feature of network size. Users can’t depart. Startups can’t compete. Media, developers and creators haven’t any desire but to play ball. The network’s pull is just too sturdy.
Locked in, we pay the rate no longer in greenbacks however in private information and content material. To be mined, offered and fed again into mystery algorithms that hijack our attention so we would provide greater. All under the veil of “free” and “enhancing user enjoy.”
Your self-expression = their marketplace cap.
Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon (GAFA) manage our conversations, searches, content material, media and data. The open forum has end up a walled lawn. Today’s Internet is an oligarchy.
Why web2 sucks
We need a new Internet because the current one is broken. It’s a multivariate problem.
The attention economy
Starting out, the web didn’t have a manner for changing value. People weren’t keen on pulling out credit score playing cards online. So the default enterprise version have become to draw customers with loose stuff and sell get entry to to their eyeballs: advertising and marketing.
Attention became the Internet’s native currency. Sites compete for it with algorithmically generated content loops you can not stop scrolling and headlines you can’t stop clicking.
Farming attention is not new. The enterprise of media has constantly been to hold you watching. To sincerely tell you may get you to song out and take action in the physical world. But watching TV we’re as a minimum synced in the same self-perpetuating loop of evaluations.
On web2, we’re every fed a personalised weight loss plan of something triggers us maximum. Different reviews have turn out to be distinctive information. And as your opportunity reality clashes with mine, Facebook’s inventory charge is going up. The bigger the hearth, the better the income. Social media brings the arena collectively to tear it apart. Because it’s properly for enterprise.
When clicks identical revenue, there is no incentive to inform the reality. The result is clickbait, incorrect information, fake information, advert blockers, and advert blocker-blockers.
The Internet is owned
Platforms own everything you create online. That includes the profile data you fill out, the behavioural data you generate, and the images, videos, songs, status updates and comments you upload. Whatever you do on platform turf is platform property.
Quite literally: whenever you upload anything to an internet platform, the file is copied onto its servers and ownership is passed to the company. It becomes the raw material algorithms mine to generate the attention advertisers pull out their wallets for. You sow, the platform reaps.
There are returns for you too, to be sure. We wouldn’t play ball if there weren’t. Sharing content online builds reputation, audiences and connections. The kind of social capital that can be monetised in its own right. Artists and creators never had such instant access to so many potential fans.
Still, all of it happens not thanks to but by mercy of the platforms. They own both your work and your followers. You’d lose it all if you’d left to try and make it outside the walls. And so you have no choice but to keep turning the wheels of their money making machine.
Deplatforming & censorship
When Twitter and Facebook banned Donald Trump, he told his supporters to follow him to Parler. Next thing Apple and Google removed Parler’s mobile app from their app stores. Whereupon Amazon delivered the final blow by kicking Parler’s website from its hosting servers. Trump is digitally homeless.
Here’s how that works.
Close to 90% of the Web is stored with four hosting providers, the biggest of which is Amazon Web Services (AWS). Their datacentres run the sites and apps we use everyday: Facebook, Twitter, Airbnb, Uber, Reddit, Netflix and so on. We access them through browsers (web) and download them from app stores (mobile).
These companies control the gates to the global marketplace of ideas. You play by their rules or don’t play at all. They ban your accounts, your apps, your websites.
Even if you behave, you can still be guilty of living in the wrong place. Censorship is easy when all it takes is blocking a handful central servers, as governments know all too well. Take China’s Great Firewall: as effective at keeping state secrets as at keeping Facebook, Twitter, Google and Wikipedia from its citizens. If (when) Russia and India
erect their own versions, the global marketplace of ideas will have lost 3 billion human minds.
An interconnected economy that combines decentralised data creation with centralised storage provides enormous rewards for hackers.
Billions of devices uploading their data to a handful of giant data centres is like a central bank with infinite doors to break in. It means I could steal your bank credentials by hacking my neighbour’s smart fridge. It means Russian cyberterrorists can freeze ATMs, shut down railroads and paralyse hospitals in Ukraine by taking control of outdated Windows computers.
Today’s Web is a chilling case of the maxim that a system can only ever be as secure as its weakest link. The crucial flaw is that the weakest link can’t be fixed because new links are added every day. By design, the solution can never match the scale of the problem. And as commerce becomes ever more peer-to-peer and device-to-device, the problem is bound to snowball into systemic bankruptcy.
Cybersecurity in its current form is a Sisyphus Myth: we keep pushing a boulder up a hill only to have it roll back down because it’s too heavy. Here are the numbers. Cybersecurity pushes about $123 billion every year. The cybercrime boulder is projected to weigh $10.5 trillion in yearly damages by 2025
. The greatest transfer of economic wealth in history.
Data breaches are the new standard for privacy. Cyberterrorism the new normal of geopolitics. A centralised internet poses a permanent risk.
The trust problem
How did we get here?
The pioneers of the Internet never meant for it to be centralised. But they overlooked the core challenge of human social organisation: trust.
Trust is the certainty not to be scammed. When you trust someone, you’re sure they’ll behave along the lines you expect them to.
In pre-civilised times this meant that, to stay safe, you only directly interact with friends and family. No trading information and value with strangers. If I don’t know you, I don’t do business with you. This capped the first hunter-gatherer societies at around 150 people: the maximum number of stable social relationships a human brain can supposedly manage (known as Dunbar’s number
Units of civilisation
When the last ice age ended around 11,000 BCE, the nomads settled down in the Agricultural Revolution. Staying put for extended periods of time gave rise to private property and valuable possession (stored agricultural output). This was the cue for trust’s alter ego to rear its ugly head. The incentive to steal had never been greater. To moderate the escalating violence between stranger tribes, we came up with third parties all strangers could trust: institutions.
Institutions widen the perimeter of trust between strangers by keeping records of what happened. Who owns what, who owes what. Taxes, payments, properties, exchanges. Records affirm truth and truth constructs trust. Governments, banks, courts, religious organisations like the Church, as well as private companies scale human cooperation into large complex societies by asserting a standardised narrative. A story we can all believe in.
In this sense, institutions are the basic units of civilisation. Offline economies can’t exist without them. As it turns out, neither could the first online economy. The early Web too leaned into the old habit of centralised trust management shortly after its decentralised inception.
Unbounded by space and time, today’s internet institutions have slashed the latency and cost of economic exchanges – unlocking instant global business. They achieve this by letting software take care of trust. We stay, ride and trade with strangers all over the world because our phones assure us we can. Through records like reviews and ratings we, the users, build a culture around a particular core interaction. This culture sets the boundaries of what each of us can (‘t) do. At the very least, we won’t be scammed. Best-case, the sky is the limit for collaboration.
Networked software subverts the bureaucratic, fee-collecting middleman to reward individuals on both sides of supply and demand. Strangers can transact at scale in a peer-to-peer economy. The kicker is that the networks are owned and the house still takes most of the winnings.
Institutions keep failing us because they are human
Every institution that distributes power, money or status eventually falls to bias and corruption. Centralised internet platforms are no exception. It’s fundamentally self-interested human behaviour playing out at scale: a feature, not a bug. We can’t trust banks, Facebook and Uber to take care of trust because we can’t ultimately trust the individuals that constitute them. Especially when they can leverage laws and network effects to evade competition.
That is not a fancy way of saying “f*ck the system” nor is it blaming bankers and Mark Zuckerberg for all of the world’s problems. It’s bad design.
Blockchain: mathematics > humans
The diagnosis is two-tiered:
- Record keeping scales society by constructing a centralised version of the truth large groups of people can agree on. Crucially, records are not truth itself but a tool for approximating it. Subjective valuation inevitably creeps in the process of ‘recording’.
- Society can’t trust the record keeper because the record keeper is human and humans are naturally selected to be self-interested. Bias is a given, manipulation an ever-looming shadow. The incentives don’t line up.
The word ‘trust’ in itself suggests the possibility of fraud. They’re two sides of the same coin.
How can we keep records that are objective and immune to human bias? The answer, as embodied in blockchain technology, is to remove humans from the equation altogether.
Minimum viable explanation
- The blockchain is a decentralised digital list (ledger) of who holds what in a network. This can be money, property titles, medical records. Anything someone would care to ‘own’.
- Decentralised means every user in the network has an up-to-date copy of the ledger.
- This makes the records unchangeable. If someone messes with the ledger, the rest of the network rejects it.
- New records (blocks) are made unhackable with cryptography.
- Cryptography is impossibly complicated math that takes a lot of computing power.
- Users providing that computing power are “miners”. They get paid in cryptocurrency (like Bitcoin) for securing the ledger.
- Mining makes the cryptocurrency scarce, giving it economic value.
- Blockchains automate trust. Users don’t need to trust records because they’re verified by the network. Trust is coded into the system itself, distributed across all network participants. There is no flawed fee-charging central intermediary with an agenda. It’s a self-governing networked community of complete strangers. The same way society pays you money for giving it what it needs, blockchains pay you coins for giving the network what it needs.
Different blockchains demand different value. It can be security, storage, computation, bandwidth, attention. The wild multitude of possible applications is beyond the introductory scope of this post. And bound only by your imagination.
Bitcoin — O.G. blockchain
Cryptodaddy Bitcoin makes for an intuitive case of how blockchains work. Its ledger keeps track of how much currency each user holds and rewards miners for securing the records.
- I pay you 1 Bitcoin (BTC)
- Everyone in the network updates their copy of the ledger with a new block that states our transaction.
- The new block is verified and cryptographically secured by miners, who get paid in Bitcoin for their computing power.
- Think of Bitcoin as a giant spreadsheet that records every transaction.
Ethereum — Distributed global supercomputer
If Bitcoin is a spreadsheet, Ethereum is a spreadsheet with macros.
Macros are mini-applications you can use to automate tasks in Microsoft Excel. In other words, Ethereum is a blockchain with its very own programming language. Developers can build decentralised applications (“dapps”) on top of it. As Bitcoin’s blockchain pays BTC for securing the ledger, Ethereum pays Ether (ETH) for executing and verifying the code of decentralised applications. It’s like a giant supercomputer made up of all the computers in the Ethereum network.
The idea of a network running applications should sound familiar. Ethereum is a decentralised alternative for the centralised Internet. A new Internet that is owned by all of its users instead of single corporate behemoth like Amazon.
It’s the original vision for the Web come true. Unhackable, uncensorable. Governed by its users and rewarding the work the network needs with a native currency. A trinity of Internet, free market and democracy.
Web3: The Internet Of Value
Don’t limit your imagination to decentralised versions of Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. Blockchain technology unlocks a new kind of Web: a human-to-human economic network in which strangers can trade currencies, assets and valuable data. No institutions charging fees, setting terms or asking questions for making it happen.
Value exchanges follow a prototypical contractual pattern. There’s a performance and a reward. If I do X, you give me Y. Bitcoin provides a simple example of how blockchains automatically verify both performance and reward, fulfilling the contract with 100% guarantee that no party gets duped. These “smart contracts” are like robot vending machines. Trades are automated according to a logic that can’t be breached.
Think art, insurance, real estate, intellectual property, credit cards, lawyers. You’ll be able to trade it all without middlemen, using dapps built on Ethereum or other smart contract blockchains like Solana instead. Trustless and permissionless. Cheaper and faster.
The superior economic efficiency will open up previously impossible business models and possibly reinvent companies altogether. At its core, a company is but a mesh of contracts: with employees, with shareholders, with banks, with customers, with the state. All can be programmed on smart contract blockchains.
Blockchains allow everyone in the world with a phone and an internet connection to participate directly, immediately and without permission in the global economy.
Smart contracts unlock new modes for trade, work, and play. Here’s a taste of where it’s going.
DeFi (Decentralised Finance)
DeFi is crypto’s way of Wall Street.
DeFi dapps let you swap, invest, earn, lend, borrow and insure financial assets directly with others users. Bankers are coded out: smart contracts automatically verify both ends of a transaction on the blockchain — slashing costs, overhead and bias. As of October 2021, ~$200bn of total asset value has been locked in DeFi protocols. (What is Total Value Locked (TVL) in DeFi?)
- Stablecoins — Stablecoins are digital tokens pegged against commodities like gold or fiat currencies like the dollar. For example, 1 USDC token
is exchangeable for 1 ‘real’ dollar. Old-world assets get crypto features: they become programmable in smart contracts and, as such, can be used in DeFi protocols, DAOs an dapps.Uniswap — In spite of decentralised imperatives, most tokens are still traded on centralised exchanges like Coinbase. Uniswap fulfills the web3 promise: direct peer-to-peer currency trading.Aave
- — Aave is a crypto-lending protocol. Crypto-holders can earn high interests by lending out. Borrowers can take out loans without credit checks by putting down crypto as collateral. In case of default, collateral is sold off to cover the loan.
NFT (Non-Fungible Token)
A token is non-fungible when its value is perceived as unique, i.e. when it’s not 1:1 interchangeable with another token. It’s the perception that matters: dollar bills all have unique serial numbers, but qualify as fungible because the purchasing power of each is the same. It’s a different story if you’re a collector and care about the serial number.
In that sense, NFTs are just tokens with serial numbers that matter. If you issue 1,000 entry tokens for a giveaway, those tokens are non-fungible if a higher number increases chances of winning. They’re fungible if the token number doesn’t matter.
As I write this, NFTs have become hard to ignore. But as people and companies spend millions for Cryptopunks and Bored Apes, two important features of NFTs tend to get lost in the noise.
First, NFTs are on-chain tokens proving ownership of off-chain assets. They’re not the assets themselves. Everyone can right-click + save a Cryptopunk .JPG, but only one wallet can hold its NFT.
Second, NFTs are not synonymous with digital artwork or even digital assets. Everything you’d care to own can be tokenised to make its ownership verifiable, unstealable, programmable, divisible, easy to transfer and cryptographically secure. That includes the Mona Lisa, Teslas, and your house. Digital artwork is but the top of an iceberg that will go on to tokenise every asset on the planet.
— The BAYC is a community for Bored Ape NFT holders. A compelling example of how NFTs can be tied to access and exclusivity, as well as social status.Ethereum Name Service (ENS) — When you register an Ethereum domain name, its NFT is minted and stored into your wallet.Audius
- — Audius is web3-Spotify. Artists directly stream to listeners without music labels and companies in-between. Ownership of songs stored on the IPFS is recorded on-chain as NFTs. Streaming revenue goes to whoever owns the NFT.
DAO (Decentralised Autonomous Organisation)
As noted earlier, organisations can be simplified as synced webs of contracts.
- Employees get paid to perform a set of tasks.
- Customers pay for products and services.
- Banks lend money on certain payback conditions.
- Shareholders invest in exchange for a stake in the organization’s activities.
A DAO puts this idea on steroids, automating value transfers through smart contracts. Human managers are programmed out by code that is democratically agreed on by token holders. Each member owns a fraction of the DAOs assets and can weigh in on decisions proportional to token holdings — as programmed per smart contract.
Integrating economic and social features, the DAO model makes companies more like communities and communities more like companies.
— The very first DAO was a venture capital fund launched in 2016, aptly named The DAO. DAO tokens, purchasable with ETH, came with the right to vote on where The DAO’s collectivised funds would be invested. Investors were to profit from dividends and rising prices of the DAO token. Unfortunately, the underlying smart contracts had a critical bug that was exploited by hackers. Or maybe not so unfortunately: hacks expose vulnerabilities we can’t have. At the time, the DAO Hack posed an existential risk to the nascent Ethereum protocol, but ultimately came to strengthen it.MakerDAO develops a DeFi protocol and issues a stablecoin named DAI. Many teams building web3 applications are in fact structured like DAOs, including aforementioned Uniswap and Aave.PleasrDAO is a collective of NFT enthusiasts that pool together resources to get their hands on rare pieces. Notable acquisitions include the Snowden NFT, the original Doge meme image and an extremely rare Wu Tang Clan album
- . Each member owns a part of these NFTs proportional to the number of tokens they hold.
Tokens capture the economic value of community membership, subjecting them to laws of supply and demand. Prices rise as more people want to join. As well as gain certain rights tokens may represent: ownership, voting, exclusive access. When prospects of rising demand attracts investors, the price climbs even higher.
This is as true for ETH holders as it can be for any group of people. Brands, artists, creators, influencers can turn communities in economies through tokenisation. I myself could airdrop $GIL tokens to subscribers and mint NFTs of pieces I write. The more readers I get, the higher the economic value. More so if tokens also unlock exclusive content, a Discord group, events and other fun stuff.
enables sports teams to monetise fanbases with fan tokens. Fans can buy tokens for a sense of ownership in the club, other than for “superfan” access to team decision polls, giveaways and rewards. Soccer superstar Lionel Messi reportedly got part of his signing bonus paid in $PSG fan tokens when he signed for the Parisian club in August — consequently spiking the price.Mirror
- is a decentralised publishing platform, with tools that help creators express, share, and monetise their thoughts web3-style. You can publish posts on-chain, mint and auction off NFT editions for them, crowdfund new projects, split revenue with collaborators and tokenise your community.
Next, you can gamify the community by rewarding achievements with tokens.
If you’ve ever chased Pokémon, World Of Warcraft weapons and FIFA player packs, you understand the value of digital assets. With a blockchain, digital assets become economically scarce. There’ll be only one Pikachu in crypto-Pokemon. And it won’t have a central corporate game developer non-stop pulling in cash from players through infinite duplication of game items out of thin air. Instead, scarce assets are earned, owned and traded among game players in what is a proper economy. Yes, your kids will make a living playing video games.
is a blockchain game in which players breed, raise, battle and trade cute animalistic creatures called “Axies”. Players earn tokens they can leverage for breeding Axies, owned as NFTs. Trading Axies and tokens, some players are already able to live off the game. The game’s economy is surprisingly complex, as this thread explains
Human-to-human economies, NFTs, tokenised communities and play2earn converge in what’s known as the Metaverse: a virtual world for people to work, play and live. Not as distant a future as you might think. Big parts of our lives are already spent online. Further immersion will happen gradually over the next few decades.
If the prospect of living in the cloud sends shivers up your spine, mind that in sci-fi virtual worlds feel dystopian mostly because of the central power that designs and controls them. These are web2’s version of the Metaverse, a virtual Facebook.
A crypto-Metaverse is open and decentralised, built from the collaborative creativity of all its creators, economically allocated through supply and demand mechanics. A world free from natural constraints and dictating institutions can have tribes, vibes and markets for every human individual. Can’t find yours? There’s your cue for creating and connecting. You don’t need anyone’s permission.
Also Read – https://codingtimes.in/sql-databases/
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