HomeBlog[Hot Spots]The Evolution of Web 3.0: The Path Towards Data Freedom
[Hot Spots]The Evolution of Web 3.0: The Path Towards Data Freedom
By Ashley.H, Gate.io Researcher
[Abstract] Web 3.0 is largely built for decentralized data networks. It’s human-centric, focusing more on bringing us a fairer internet by enabling the individual to be a sovereign. In addition, it is dedicated to eliminating barriers between data, so that users can take control of their own digital identity, digital assets and other data. In this way, users can decide their own destiny in the virtual world. The growth of Web 3.0 can be essentially attributed to the development of public chain infrastructure such as Polkadot, distributed storage projects like Filecoin and application layer projects such as BAT.
Before mankind had a slight idea about the information age, Marshall McLuhan, a professor studying philosophy and media theory, had already made prospects to the evolution of interactive media, and his book Gutenberg Galaxy made the term "global village" popular. He suggested that the medium is the message. The technological way used to access information has become a new organ of humanity, a tentacle through which we perceive and feel the world, shaping our thoughts and influencing our behavior. How was the Internet born and developed as a new medium? What kind of changes will Web 3.0 bring to the world we live in? What is the future of Web 3.0? This article will dive into these questions.
The Origin of Web
Throughout our long history, we have built up a vast network that has been vital to human survival and development. However, over the years from the time of storytelling through cave paintings to the emergence of written language, and later the Gutenberg Revolution, both the network itself and the relationship between it and humans have experienced dramatic changes.
In recent times, the invention of photography and communication technology has broken the time and space limitations of information transmission, and a phone call can bring people closer to each other even if they are separated by thousands of miles. And in the 1970s, another innovation that changed the information network came into being - the Internet. The Internet originated in 1969, at the climax of the U.S.-Soviet Cold War when the United States had a central computer used to control nuclear weapons. Concerned about hacking, the U.S. military, under a protocol established by ARPANET, linked four major computers at the University of California, Los Angeles, Stanford Research Institute, University of California and the University of Utah to ensure that defense systems are always up and running.
There were more nodes in ARPANET since 1970 and the number of nodes had increased to 40 by 1972 and they could send small text files between them. ARPANET can claim to be the first network to use packet switching, hence signaling the birth of modern computer networks.
In 1989, while working at CERN, Tim Berners-Lee proposed a protocol for classifying information on the Internet, which is known as the World Wide Web(WWW). The web server organized information into graphic hypertext through Hypertext Markup Language (HTML), using links to jump from one site to another. By 1991, the first web page in the Internet world was born.
Web 1.0 to Web3.0
Web 1.0, the earliest version of the Internet, led by AltaVista and Netscape, served large commercial companies as a platform on which product information was posted for advertising, and people browsed the web to learn about the products and then contacted the company to buy the desired goods. Web 1.0 was a static and one-way information provider where all web pages were "read-only" and users could only browse and retrieve information, but rarely interact with others.
Given that the slow development of Web 1.0 hardly served society’s needs, the second generation of the Internet — Web 2.0 came into being in 2004. In Web 2.0, users are creators of web content, not just visitors and anyone can publish content on the Internet. Another change is the development of a two-way information interaction from a one-way static network. After the rise of social media, a growing number of users are active on the Internet and more countries have become web-dependent. In addition, the explosive development of smartphones has accelerated this trend. It can be said that Web 2.0 is more democratic and more active.
Although users in Web 2.0 are free to create content to express their own voices, all the data is stored in a large centralized database, which ignites users’ worries over another problem — the centralization of the Internet.
Nowadays when the internet industry witnesses booming development, some government departments and Internet giants have too much power, as the 2013 Prismgate scandal warned. Based on the flaws of the over-centralized Web 2.0, individual information was misused, and intelligence agencies in the U.K. and U.S. conducted unlimited wiretapping without the public's knowledge and permission. Users sacrifice individual data for free services, only to end up back in a paid model. Centralization and oligarchization have made the Internet less dynamic while unsettling to the public.
Against this backdrop, Gavin Wood, the co-founder of Ethereum, proposed the vision of Web 3.0.
Blockchain and Web 3.0
How to define Web 3.0 in the Web 2.0 Era?
The network operation mechanism in Web 3.0 is on a peer-to-peer basis and largely built for decentralization. Web 3.0 is human-centric, focusing more on bringing us a fairer internet in which users’ data can only be used, and not read. In addition, it is dedicated to eliminating barriers between data, so that users can take control of their own digital identity, digital assets, and other data. In this way, users can decide their own destiny in the virtual world.
In April 2014, Gavin Wood published an article in his blog column "Insights into a Modern World" — "What should Web 3.0 look like? (ĐApps: What Web 3.0 should look like?) in which he discusses his views on Web 3.0 and calls Web 3.0 the "post-Snowden" web. He believes that people don’t have to entrust information to a certain organization and the status "information monopoly" will be broken with the development of zero-trust interaction system.
In Web 3.0, there will be a cryptography-based anonymous identity system, that is Decentralized ID (DID). In the Web 2.0 era, user identity data is held by different companies and organizations, and leaks of ID information have occurred from time to time. For example in April this year, the Facebook data leaks have impacted 533 million users. The leaked data included ID numbers, phone numbers and so on. In Web 3.0 based on blockchain technology, user data will be stored cryptographically in a decentralized way, and companies can only verify the user's identity with "private key + public key" similar to the current digital wallet, but not to know the specific ID data. In this system, user information cannot be stolen or tampered with, and personal data is always kept secret.
In the Web 2.0 era, data is the fifth productive force, and users are the most valuable asset for Internet giants to grow their power and earn huge gains by monopolizing data. In contrast, in the Web 3.0 identity system, end-users will have full data ownership, and the revenue generated by data will really return to the user.
This return may be achieved through the "Token Economy" on the blockchain. For example, when users browse the web with a decentralized browser, they can choose to watch ads or not, and if they choose to watch, they will directly receive the token revenue provided by the ads. In this way, blockchain technology also becomes the "Value Layer" of the Internet.
Prospects of Web 3.0 Ecosystem
The beginning of the Web 3.0 era will not produce radical changes in people's lives overnight, but will gradually and fundamentally bring us more transparent and safer Internet services. All technical fields in Web 2.0 will leap forward to a new stage in the Web 3.0 era, and even be completely changed by Web 3.0. However, for users, they may not need to drastically change their surfing habits to enjoy the benefits of Web 3.0.
How will this progressive and profound change see the Web 3.0 ecosystem grow?
The first problem that needs to be addressed is the lack of scalability of the blockchain. At present, Ethernet can only support a dozen transactions per second, and even if it is successfully upgraded to 2.0 with significantly enhanced processing performance, it cannot achieve all the functions needed for Web 3.0. Among the public chain solutions with insufficient blockchain scalability, the most promising ones are cross-chain projects such as Polkadot and Cosmos.
Polkadot aims to be a perfect blockchain scaling solution. The Polkadot network is connected to other blockchain projects through multiple parachains, while the Polka master chain serves as a relay chain for the system, which functions to verify the parachains and provide consensus and security. In order to access the Polkadot relay chain, there will be parachain auctions for "Slots". In July 2020, Gavin Wood said in China that the number of parachains supported by Polkadot is about 100, which means the maximum number of slots is nearly 100. However, officials may increase the number of slots in the future through technical optimizations such as secondary relay chains. Kusama is still in early-stage testing, supporting a small number of parachains for the time being, and the slot opening and auction will be gradually promoted. Currently, the third round of parachain auctions on Polkadot is in progress.
Secondly, the large amount of data generated in Web 3.0 also needs a new storage method for data. The current public chain projects basically only realize the transaction data on the chain, while the application front end and metadata are still stored on a certain "centralized server". Take NFT digital art as an example. The NFT often only records basic information such as numbers, transaction records and a pointer to the art, but the digital art itself is stored on the centralized server of the project. If the server is damaged or tampered with, the user's NFT may be left with an empty shell only including recorded transaction data.
The solution is to implement distributed data storage on the basis of smart contracts. The leading project in this field is the peer-to-peer transfer protocol IPFS(InterPlanetary File System), which is designed to replace the existing HTTPS. While Filecoin is created by Protocol Lab, who is also the creator of IPFS protocol, with Filecoin as its incentive layer. When a node participant in the IPFS protocol needs to be able to prove that it has stored the relevant data correctly and has submitted the proof of storage to the network via a new block, the network then verifies that this part of the data has been stored correctly and securely. Only the correct blocks are accepted and saved. As the process continues over time, participants in the nodes receive transaction storage fees and have the opportunity to earn block rewards.
In addition to network infrastructure involving public chains and storage, application-layer projects, such as decentralized wallets and browsers, also enjoy a bright future. In fact, DeFi can be seen as the best application of Web 3.0. For more information about Web 3.0-related projects, please stay tuned to the Gate.io blog for further articles.
Author: Gate.io Researcher: Ashley. H *This article represents only the views of the researcher and does not constitute any investment suggestions. *Gate.io reserves all rights to this article. Reposting of the article will be permitted provided Gate.io is referenced. In all other cases, legal action will be taken due to copyright infringement.