Man, 2021 escalated quickly! With the increased concerns and distrust of public platforms owned by big companies, “something’s gotta give”. That “something” will probably be hallmark Web 3.0 features which have been in the works for a while, as well as some Web 2.0 applications that lost popularity because people didn’t want to (or in some cases could not afford to) pay money, at least until now. But what is “Web 3.0”? Since it is difficult to define the entirety of Web 3.0 before it becomes mainstream, here are some elements I’m expecting to come from it.
The first thing to expect is an explosion of self-hosted solutions for the Open Web, such as WordPress, Mastodon, and many others. While that explosion may cool off as quickly as that explosion became hot, it is the first knee-jerk reaction to expect from the distrustful, the censored, as well as for those who wish for a quieter, more thoughtful experience. The hosting has become cheaper as of late – one can self-host a fairly secure WordPress site for as little as $5 a month if they are technically minded, or have someone take care of the technical side for them for as little as $12-15 a month if they are not so technically minded.
The next “big thing” I expect to happen is for Ethereum (or at least its underlying concept of decentralized applications) to start becoming more mainstream, as the underlying technology is resistant to even government-level censorship, though currently at the cost of comparatively slow page-loading times.
At its core, decentralization will be the name of the game for Web 3.0, and will give companies like Facebook a run for their money. This is why Twitter is already researching how it could potentially morph into a decentralized system in the years ahead.
This will enable both good and bad.
Let’s start with the bad – to be certain, bad people ranging from human traffickers to fake news vendors and everybody in between will harness this to their advantage. This won’t render catching the criminals impossible, it’ll just mean they can’t be easily censored and catching them via the Internet will require a change in strategy.
However, this also opens up the potential for many good things! Soon we may be able to transmit money digitally without the need (or the trust) of a third party vendor, and with increased security measures. As of right now, you can donate the Ether cryptocurrency directly to my decentralized domain name, codextypes.eth, without the need for entrusting PayPal or Venmo’s data warehouses to protect your sensitive financial data. For a transaction fee, I can convert this into fiat currencies where it is legal. In the US, for example, it is currently allowed provided I report any capital gains.
This will also enable religious freedom in new and exciting ways, such as Christian communities being able to archive and share digital copies of the Scriptures in their local languages, both text and audio, without censorship from persecuting governments.
This also has the potential to enable people who previously couldn’t afford a WordPress subscription or hosting plan to have a place where they can share their thoughts and beliefs with full control over their data.
Every major iteration of the Internet won’t help or solve the human condition, but it will attempt to improve upon the technical pain points that came with the previous iteration of the Internet, and that’s something to be excited about!