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From Web1 to Web2, we’ve made great strides in decentralizing data, allowing users to create content and share it through websites. This is where the liability ends, as users do not own or control their data. Also, since the big tech companies mostly run Web2, users don’t know what real privacy and ownership looks like.
Web3 is a game changer. It gives users access to an open, trustless, and permissionless Internet, where they must rely on these companies or compromise data ownership and privacy. The evolution of privacy and storage from Web1 to Web3 has been significant. Web3 could empower society by giving control back to users. Here’s how:
Web1 to Web3: The Evolution of Privacy and Data Storage
The Web was primarily a static medium in its early days. Web1 introduced Websites, a groundbreaking innovation that provided a new and powerful way to consume content. However, it only allowed one-way communication, which was the main limitation. Users could only consume content on these websites, not create or contribute, which made Web1 non-collaborative and a bit boring compared to today.
Additionally, Web1 was severely centralized. The creators controlled the website, data storage, and even communications or data transmissions. As a result, users did not play a major role in Web1 and they were merely participants who consumed content on the web but had no ownership or rights.
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Towards user participation
We are currently on Web2. At least theoretically, the focus has shifted to user participation in this phase, which is one of its biggest advantages. Users can not just read data on this version, but also write. For example, they can create blogs, video tutorials and more. But there is a catch here, as there are limits to what users can do.
Users have a wider creative reach in Web2. They can populate personalized websites and interact with all forms of data, enabling solutions and services unthinkable in Web1. And yet, big tech companies own and govern the servers that host and store this data. In other words, users can now create and contribute data to the web, but not control it. Thus, web-based communications and storage remain highly centralized.
Being able to share content and generate data on the web is empowering, but it doesn’t guarantee ownership. Web2 is a service with Terms and Conditions. And the big tech companies determine those terms as the last resort, exercising absolute control. So much so that users cannot use the web without accepting said conditions, knowingly or unknowingly. As mentioned in our previous report, we are late to realize the importance of privacy on the Internet and our clipboards, preferences and browsing activities are sent to countless websites and sold without much intervention on our part. .
Web3 is the promised land. It solves the problems of centralizing data storage and communication. Web2 initiated the journey towards decentralization, but ultimately favored worse forms of centralization than Web1.
As a reminder, users did not actually control or own the data they produced. Moreover, the centralized web is also conducive to censorship and de-platforming. And overall, big tech companies are harshly exploiting end users to maximize profits. Now the question is: what is different with Web3?
Decentralization. Web3 returns data control to users, who remain in control of storage and communication. Websites in this user-centric version of the web run on blockchain networks, replacing single (centralized) servers with thousands of computers (nodes) spread across the globe. Instead of legacy processes and channels, they interact with end users through decentralized applications or dApps.
Most dApps are truly community-governed and non-custodial. Users can thus experience real and meaningful ownership of their data, with algorithmically secured intellectual property rights. Additionally, the underlying blockchain facilitates transparent communications while prioritizing privacy through cryptographic encryption.
Censorship is also virtually impossible, as smart contracts automatically run web processes based on predefined triggers and conditions without human interference. The approach also ensures optimal fairness.
Web3: Privacy and data storage aren’t luxuriousthat’s to say
As dApps replace centralized websites, users can regain their privacy and the ability to store data. Web3’s user-platform interactions are confidential and anonymous, both in principle and in practice. All of this allows individuals to realize their self-sovereignty and be assured of the security of their private information.
Web3 isn’t quite there yet, but we’re gradually moving towards a digital world where privacy and ownership are a right, not a luxury. The challenge now is to ensure the robustness of the key infrastructure. On the one hand, dApps must be optimally functional, integrate masses and deliver their services at scale.
We’ll get there soon, though, thanks to the industry’s many prolific and innovative communities. The social impact of Web3 empowers individuals at a fundamental level. And by securing privacy and ownership at this level, we can eventually establish them as the norm for human-to-human and human-to-human interactions. Web3 is indeed the future that users deserve, the future that is now.
Forrest Bai is the co-founder of Foresight Ventures.
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