I have had an interesting experience with web 3.0 over the past couple months where I’ve transitioned from being a believer to then becoming disillusioned with the concept. I think I’m at a point where I believe in the dream of web 1.0. I want to help create a world where most people are technical enough to host and maintain their digital presence themselves.
As a programmer I love learning about new technologies. My social network and my (curated) media network started talking about web 3.0 technologies more and more. One of the “a-ha!” moments came from when I watched a couple videos by Fireship which talks about web 3.0 trends.
I became very excited with web 3.0. Users own their own data, that is immutably posted to a blockchain? As a programmer, I don’t have to build an authentication system and can instead leverage crypto wallets? My software can create digital goods that can be worth something to my users? Wow!
I know a few people that I dub “cryptoheads” that then helped me enter and understand the web 3.0 world.
So what do I do? I engage people using my pseudo-anonymous internet aliases to discuss topics in both VR chat and various discord servers. To be clear, I merely participate in discussions of web 3.0 when it’s brought up. I am not bringing up web 3.0 technologies and only discuss it when others begin talking.
One thing I learned is that copyright of work is not transferable. So if you purchase an NFT on an NFT marketplace, you can’t then (legally) make t-shirts of the content you purchased. The artist retains ownership of the copyright.
And then Moxie released their “My first impressions of web3” blog that talks about how web 3.0 actually works. I learned that content isn’t stored on the block chain. Instead, a URL is stored but there is nothing to check that the same URL isn’t being sold.
Josh Strife Hayes recently released a “What the hell are NFT’s?” video. That sealed the deal for me; I am no longer a believer.
If web 3.0 continues to produce scams then it seems likely that governments around the world will make web 3.0 business operations illegal. What a risk!
My stomach is in knots
The electricity required by cryptocurrencies/blockchains is massive. When I consider the environmental impact of creating an artificially scare resource… Web 3.0 distributed apps (dapps) increases the amount of interactions with the blockchain, and therefore the electrical carbon footprint. That sucks…
Then you think about how much things will cost, and who it will cost. Every interaction with a blockchain costs a “gas” fee. When an NFT is “minted” then a transaction fee must be paid. There are many web 3.0 business models that pass on that cost to the user. Here’s the thing — the more popular a blockchain becomes (typically) the more expensive it is to participate.
Compare that with running a dedicated server backing a website. Basically, one has an economy of scale when running their own website. It is cheaper for me to deal with everyone about digital interactions with my site hosting my own resources than it would be using a web 3.0 technology. That part makes my stomach churn because how much waste is involved in having to take money from average people just to pay a blockchain miner.
The thing is — in a web 3.0 dapp I’m still running servers anyways. In fact, I’m still hosting the content of the NFT (the aforementioned URL). What am I really getting by using web 3.0?
Web 1.0 to the rescue
I remember reading “The Linux Command Line: 2nd edition” by William Shotts where it talked early on about how learning Linux is critical to the path of being free. Free as in able to participate as a builder in our increasingly information based world. It is a big call to action from the author and is one echoed by many in the Linux and open source world.
I believe that many of the goals espoused by web 3.0 proponents are better served by aligning on the ideas of web 1.0.
To me, web 1.0’s goal is that everyone has a baseline technological literacy where they can run and maintain their own internet presence. The average person should be able to run their own website, FTP server, backup files using NAS, run their own git server internal to their home network, etc. The average person should be able to figure out how to build (in software) what they want to achieve. In this world, everyone is a tinkerer.
The primary issue, some might retort, is that this sort of stuff is complicated and people don’t want to be bothered. They would rather a larger entity (like a company) make things easy for them.
I say, we as an industry have the ability to make user friendly devices that can help onboard beginners. For example; your home network’s public IP address can change any time by the internet service provider (ISP) providing access to the internet. What about a simple device that monitors and displays what the current home network IP address is?
What about a plug and play FTP server? A plug and play website server complete with an auto-updating server language and auto-updating database server? Again; we as an industry are capable of making user friendly devices. However; the web 1.0 dream is to help people become experts themselves and thus these devices should have that capability as well.
To be honest, I don’t know. There is so much money flowing into web 3.0. Should I write it off completely? Would I feel comfortable working on a web 3.0 property as a contractor for something that might just be a scam? Have I gotten it wrong?
I don’t know. I feel uncomfortable working on something that is a scam. I don’t like the idea of participating in something that suffers from insider trading schemes. I feel like the driving motivation for legitimate web 3.0 transactions is the bigger fool theory and most people treat is as a speculator’s market.
Am I willing to let a bunch of money possibly go by on the matter of principle? Honestly… Yea. I am.