In the early days of the internet, the vision was for anyone to be able to publish content. Content from their home computer to be access by anyone else in the world. However, the reality of today’s internet turned out to be much more centralized in practice. Instead of downloading documents, videos, music, and other files on a peer-to-peer basis, the vast majority of the web is in control by a handful of massive infrastructure companies such as Amazon, Google, and Meta. The current state of the mostly centralized internet has led to many issues. These issues include censorship to the potential for manipulating populations via troll farms. Crypto is changing everything.
However, there is hope for a new way of doing things. This is commonly referred to as Web3, that could bring the internet back to its decentralized roots. When it comes to everything from the digital financial system to social media apps. Developers are currently building the tools that could eventually disrupt the large tech corporations that dominate the web today.
There were plenty of hobbyists who have an interest in decentralized internet technologies before Bitcoin. However, it was this new, peer-to-peer digital cash system that brought this revolution to the masses. Before the invention of Bitcoin and its associated blockchain technology, it was impossible to engage in online commerce without the use of a third party in between the two counterparties of any transaction. Sure, PayPal existed and worked well for many people in the developed world.
However, the fact of the matter is that the centralized financial institution was taking in fees from their customers on every transaction and had the power to censor payments, seize assets, and completely shut down user accounts. Bitcoin changed the game in the online payments world as a new system that was not in control by any one, centralized party. This enabled permissionless, uncensorable payments for the web for the very first time. And contrary to popular belief, this concept of an uncontrollable digital cash system was not a new concept when the Bitcoin network launched in early 2009.
Technologists had been trying to develop this kind of decentralized digital payment network for decades at that point. However, the issue of centralization had always come up as an issue that forced past iterations of this technology into failure. Whether it was the failure of DigiCash as a centralized company or the targeting of gold-backed digital currencies like E-gold by governments, it was clear that a decentralized accounting system like the one used in Bitcoin would be a requirement for cutting third parties out of digital payments.
Now that we have Bitcoin as the base money of the internet, further developments can be made in the crypto realm to decentralize other aspects of the online financial system. And we’re seeing that come to fruition with innovations such as Lightning Network and decentralized finance (DeFi).
Decentralized Social Media Networks in Crypto
While Bitcoin kicked off the revolution in decentralized digital networks, it is not the only area that has been target by developers for disruption. The many issues with current social networks, such as Facebook and Twitter, are well documented. Critics of social media giants have many different theories. Theories as to what is at the core of all of the different problems.
That said, Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey, who has since left the company, has stated his belief that these issues can solve through the development of an open protocol for social media. Much like Bitcoin solve many of the pain points of online commerce through the creation of an open, decentralized protocol, Dorsey believes the same concept can apply to social media. Instead of having a centralized company deciding who can and cannot post on a particular social media platform, users could be able to opt into different moderation schemes and have more control over the content that allows to pop up in their feeds.
Instead of handing over all of their personal data to a giant corporation based in Silicon Valley with no compensation in return, users could have more control over the information they’re willing to share with other parties. The combination of crypto with a decentralized social media platform also has the potential to create new avenues. New avenues for content monetization and more direct connections between creators and their audiences.
A major talking point in the crypto space these days is the concept of Web3. This is which still does not have an exact definition. For now, it comes off as more of a marketing term for crypto-related startups, Ones looking to raise funding. However, the basic idea is to create more decentralized and private versions of the most popular apps on the web today.
Developers are also looking to decentralize some of the basic plumbing of the internet. This is such as web hosting, virtual private networks, search engines. Basically every other aspect of the internet. There are even attempts to use crypto-based incentives to create a new, peer-to-peer mesh network. A network that could allow devices to literally connect directly. Directly with each other rather than through centralized internet service providers (ISPs).
At this point, it’s unclear how much of the hype around Web3 will turn into reality. This is as perhaps not every area of the web was as in need of disruption as online finance. It’s also unclear how big of a role crypto tokens will need to play in this digital revolution. However, it is indeed a key area to watch for anyone interested in Bitcoin and other related technologies.
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