The three characteristics of Web 3.0 that fix what went wrong with today’s Internet


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Blockchain technology has come a long way. It wasn’t long ago that crypto was marginalized, evangelized by a vocal minority. The narrative changed when the COVID-19 pandemic forced people into their homes with plenty of time to delve into new interests. Crypto benefited from the increased awareness and entered everyday conversations between friends, family and colleagues.

Even so, it’s still early days in crypto. Widespread adoption remains elusive and traditional tech gatekeepers retain their control over the digital economy. To loosen that grip, those of us building the decentralized Internet, or Web 3.0, need to better define the narrative of what is at stake as we move on with the status quo.

We have a particularly compelling opportunity to grab the narrative after this last month, when the mood against the centralized controllers of Web 2.0 became particularly angry. The challenges become increasingly clear when we see how the structural inequalities of Web 2.0 affect us all.

First, Facebook testified in front of Congress when a former employee presented suppressed research that showed the platform puts “profits above the safety” of its users. The statement was linked to a major outage on Facebook that affected all of its products worldwide. Then, finally, an anonymous hacker released a treasure trove of data from the Inc. Twitch video game streaming platform, including source code and creator payouts to “encourage more disruption and competition in online video streaming.”

Although I do not tolerate unauthorized access to a company’s protected information, I have understood the emotions involved. As a Web 3.0 entrepreneur focused on building an open infrastructure for video streaming, the size and reach of Twitch, YouTube, and Facebook can stifle innovation. There’s not much room for emerging services to venture into an area dominated by the economies of scale (and access to eyeballs) these companies enjoy.

So how can we get the web back to its original vision of being an open platform and global service that anyone can contribute and build? We need to pick up the narrative to welcome more builders and users to the core of a thriving Web 3.0 ecosystem.

Open code

The open source nature of Web 3.0 means that its contributors can collaborate on technologies and features from day one instead of proprietary code being hacked and leaked. Compare that to the walled gardens built and protected by the Big Tech gatekeepers. Once locked inside, there is little recourse or opportunity to go. People, companies and developers are simply subject to the whims of the centralized authority and are forced to adapt to product or condition changes.

I’ve seen firsthand the overwhelming impact these gatekeepers have on developers. After our first company was bought by Groupon, my co-founder and I built a business that relied on application programming interfaces (APIs) from the big tech gatekeepers: Facebook, Google, Pinterest, and Twitter. Initially, these platforms were more open, so we could integrate our service into these platforms. Our access was abruptly interrupted when these platforms decided to block access to third parties. Our service eventually failed because those platforms didn’t stay open, which was a vivid lesson on the risks of building on someone else’s tech stack.

This experience led us to our next project: building the open video infrastructure for live streaming. With open and decentralized architecture, we can attract developers, maintain a community, and realign incentives that protect all stakeholders. It is an approach that requires a shift from a mindset of protectionism to a mindset of abundance. The cake is just that big either. Therefore, competition must be stifled and prevented at all costs, or the sum will be greater than its parts and a community can create more value together than it could alone.

Related: Striking: the domino effect of DeFi on NFTs and the introduction of Web 3.0

Transparent economy

In its purest form, the Web 3.0 economy is transparent and approval-free and gives stakeholders the assurance that deeply rooted interests are not secretly pulling the strings and controlling the results in their favor. This form of creative patronage is growing in popularity every day as it is much more user-friendly than the current options.

This transparent economy is what creators lack of the existing Web 2.0 dynamic. Because developers build within walled gardens, they remain tied to the economics of each platform. And if the platform changes this economy, the creator has few options: If there are few alternatives, the option to exit is often not economically feasible.

Web 3.0 builders also need to underline how eliminating taxable gatekeepers will allow developers to keep more of the money they made from their communities. “Keep More Of What You Deserve” and “Support More Of What You Love” are great story amplifiers as Web 3.0 seeks to replace Web 2.0. With this message, it’s not just about empowering YouTubers, it’s also about empowering fans to give more of their money to their favorite creators.

Aligned Incentives

The final pillar of Web 3.0 is to align incentives between creators, users, and the platform itself. These incentives affect a platform’s accountability and governance, which then affects toxicity, inclusion, and control.

Related: DeFi and Web 3.0: Unleashing creative juices with decentralized financing

Accountability and governance are important issues when it comes to aligning incentives. Web 2.0 gatekeepers have little incentive to “get creators and users right”. Why should they Since there is little competition, users are stuck in the walled garden. And as a private company with little external regulation, they can do whatever they want. It’s a “we set the rules, so take it or leave it” attitude and an “us versus them” mentality.

With Web 3.0, governance is often decentralized through a decentralized autonomous organization or DAO or other deeply rooted community feedback mechanism. With the decentralization of community management away from centralized authorities, there is a tendency towards self-moderation. Communities built around shared passions enjoy natural moderation, and when community members step out of line, the community takes action. And if a community member doesn’t like something, they can submit suggestions for community voting to change the direction of the platform.

Ultimately, YouTubers want a more direct relationship with their fans and an influence on the governance of the platforms they use. The Web 3.0 paradigm attempts to address this by enabling creator-driven platforms that also allow users to own platforms, often coordinated by tokens. As they benefit directly from the growth of the platforms, the users have the incentive to offer vital services like moderation to prevent things like hate robberies.

Of course, nothing is perfect. Web 3.0 will still struggle with some of the moderation problems faced by other major platforms. Decentralized platform critics say that the lack of a central authority will make moderation even more difficult.

However, as more platforms emerge to serve niche communities (rather than a single entity capturing everyone in a walled garden), these smaller communities are less attractive targets for the toxicity plaguing larger platforms with global reach. It’s just harder to spread misinformation and trolling when there are dozens or hundreds of platforms.

Related: Adapt or die: Venture Capital vs. Crypto, Blockchain, DAOs and Web 3.0

What’s next for Web 3.0?

Web 3.0 builders need to pick up on this narrative again and go beyond “Winner Takes All” to “Community above all”. It will not be easy. And there is still a long way to go before Web 3.0 generates more creativity than the Internet ever did.

As Web 3.0 scales, we also need to protect ourselves from falling back to the mean. It would be a shame to simply replicate the existing gatekeeper model. Because of this, we need to continue to skillfully convey the Web 3.0 narrative to help both developers and everyday users understand the value of Web 3.0 – and the pitfalls of keeping up with the current dynamics of Web 2.0.

After looking at the recent stumbling blocks in Web 2.0, it is clear that we will continue to be armed with powerful examples of how far we have gone – and what we need to do to keep the original vision of the Internet as open Restoring the Internet to a place that is additive and creative for society.

We’ll be there for the long term. It is up to us to evangelize, listen to users, and primarily build with a collaborative mindset.

This article does not provide investment advice or recommendations. Every step of investing and trading involves risk, and readers should do their own research when making a decision.

The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed herein are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Cointelegraph.

Doug Petkanics is co-founder of Livepeer, where the team is building a decentralized live video broadcast platform to enable the next generation of video streaming. Prior to Livepeer, Doug was the co-founder and CEO of Wildcard, a mobile browser. He was also a co-founder of Hyperpublic, which was acquired by Groupon. He was VP of Engineering for both.