Decrypting the lingo: Decentralization & "Web3"
Updated: Feb 8, 2022
What is "Decentralization"?
- Decentralization in general refers to the utopic idea that societal institutions can exist without centralized control from government or other powerful institutions. I call decentralization utopic because in many contexts, true decentralization is difficult to achieve. Conceptual decentralization is abstract and differs from the concept of the decentralized web as described below.
What is the Decentralized web?
- The decentralized web refers to a distributed network system, the nature of which is the the cornerstone of the free and true world wide web. The decentralized internet is the idea that data networks and network infrastructure are largely controlled by users participating in a collective network, where devices communicate directly by traffic flows through hard transit lines (fiber, cable,dsl etc). The decentralized web is designed to exist free without control by a single entity or group.
What is the Centralized Web?
-The centralized web refers to the transformation of the underlying web infrastructure, whereby the majority of data now flows through the endpoints of BigTech organizations. As the custodians of the network data, BigTech is able to control and profit from its ownershipo of the information flows.
What is web1/2/3?
- Web1/2/3 are digestible terms that are broad references to a few basic accepted iterations of the world wide web:
- Web1.0 represents the 'read only' version of the internet, where users viewed editorial like content that was presented through a displayed interface. If you are old enough to remember the "you've got mail" days of dial up, you experienced this "first" web iteration.
- Web 2.0 refers to the read-write iteration of the internet. Think blogs and websites as you know them today. Despite the popularized movement towards "web3", we are still very much in the web 2 era. This iteration of the web, where new content and data is infinitely created, requires robust infrastructure in the form of storage, security, and user interface apps. Enter yahoo, google, meta, Amazon, and the like. These tech giants filled the need for robust infrastructure, but in doing so became the primary custodians of our information by taking over the primary flows of data. Over time, user data has become highly centralized within these organizations. In turn, users are increasingly concerned with how their data is used and the power these organizations have by controlling information and content access. These concerns are warranted; the concepts of linkrot, platform censorship, algorithmic marketing, data exploitation, and data security have been demonstrable issues with large tech organizations throughout the last decade. "Web2" represents the centralized web; where BigTech organizations maintain the underlying network infrastructure where data and communications are stored.
- Web 3.0 proposes a framework to solve the problem of centralization by creating decentralized ecosystems in the form of Peer-to-Peer networks. Simply put, a p2p network is a cluster of computers contributed by users that are connected together to create a distributed network. Data on the network is stored across user nodes where computers communicate without the need for a centralized server. P2P networks are a core networking concept. If you lived the aol days, you may remember (your older brother) using illicit p2p services like morpheus, kazza, and limewire to download music and media. While peer to peer networks are liberated from centralized control, they have security and scalability issues that challenge wide adoption. Blockchain technology seeks to solve the problem of centralization by creating secure, scalable and immutable p2p networks. "Web3" represents the decentralized web; where users maintain the underlying infrastructures of the web through peer-to-peer based protocols.
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Centralized Web= infrastructure maintained by BigTech;
Decentralized Web=maintained by network participants (users);
Peer-to-Peer Networks = proposed solution to centralization problem;
Block Chains = Early-stage iterations of Secure & Scalable p2p networks;