There is a certain group of high profile people who are in love with blockchain technology and not so much with the decentralized financial application protocol known as bitcoin.
Whether Bitcoin is the blockchain's ultimate purpose (and should bitcoin work out it would be to power a global financial infrastructure) or not, it is worth the research to see all of the industries and businesses blockchain has an opportunity to not only disrupt for the better but revolutionize as far as decentralizing the power structures that be and even the playing field in more ways than one.
Some have said going from the modern day internet to a blockchain-based Internet is like taking websites from HTTP to HTTPS – adding another layer of security and trustworthiness, as well as privacy. Let's take the time to showcase a few ways the innovative blockchain technology could possibly usher in a new era of the Internet and world wide web as we know it.
Will Blockchain's Publicly Distributed Ledger Technology Bring On The Web 3.0 Revolution?
When most people think of the internet, they only think about in terms of the search engines and social media networks. Yet, these only constitute less than 30 percent of the entire internet.
The internet has come a long way from the days of text based html webpages. Now, you have everything from social media to the internet of things (IoT), and it doesn’t seem to be slowing down.
In fact, there are tech experts who believe the internet is now moving into another era called the web 3.0. For those who don’t know, web 1.0 was the static, text based, naked code web pages, while web 2.0 ushered in an era of dynamic websites, social media, ecommerce and a faster media based internet.
This is where we’re currently at right now. You can shop, stream videos, get entertainment, use apps, and do a whole lot more than you could during the web 1.0 era, thanks to a faster internet and rapidly advancing tech.
While the whole world isn’t connected yet, over 55 percent are, with more getting on every day. You may think that web 2.0 is going to be as good as it gets, but we think maybe not.
Web 3.0 is supposedly going to be the future with blockchain playing a critical role in making it a reality. Why? Because web 2.0 has some considerable limitations. Overcoming those limitations will result in a faster, more intuitive, more data driven internet.
Web 2.0’s Limitations
Chief among web 2.0’s limitations is the need for an intermediary to handle your data. Unless you own all the necessary infrastructure, every single document you upload, email sent, bio filled out and ad you click are being handled by an intermediary that provides you with the infrastructure.
Don’t be so naïve as to think that these facilities are provided for free out of the generosity of the company’s hearts. They do so with the intent of mining your data; some for the sole purpose of trading them, others for the purpose of hoarding and using that data to keep track of you.
Right now, once your data is out there, it’s no longer yours. Of course the companies make you feel like you still own the data, but the reality is that they have a copy of your data stored on their servers.
High Data Vulnerability
There have been more data leaks and hacks over the last decade than there have been in the entire human history, no thanks to advancing hacking technology and poor data host security.
Fortune 500 companies like Amazon, eBay, Yahoo, Uber and Target suffered huge data breaches. Now, think about that for a moment. If huge companies with supposedly bulletproof security measures cannot prevent data losses, hacks and breaches, what makes you think the information you give to them is safe?
We understand that companies are doing their best to ensure that their customers’ data are safe, but it’s still not enough to guarantee 100 percent data protection.
Data is the new oil. Every major company that has a customer base is doing its best to mine and acquire as much data on their customers as possible.
Some of these companies are doing it for the sole purpose of trading that data and selling it to the highest bidder. The recent Cambridge Analytica/Facebook scandal is a huge reminder of how far reaching the impact of data trading can be.
Advertising companies are actively profiling customers or individuals with their data, with the sole purpose of making that data available to advertisers and marketers.
This way, advertisers can target specific demographics, even down to their location. It’s scary the amount of data that’s available to advertisers and marketers, considering the amount of damage that can be done with that data in the wrong hands.
Need for Trust
When you’re giving out your data to a company in exchange for their services, you are trusting that they will do right by you and keep your information safe. The problem with that is you don’t know what they intend to do with your data.
Ideally, there should be no need for trust. You should be able to provide your information or data and know that it is safe.
Unfortunately, that’s not usually the case. Like it or not, trusting that a company will take care of your data is not enough as you would have seen from data leaks and hacks.
How Web 3.0 Will Fix These Issues
All these data mining has resulted in a few companies completely dominating the internet and gaining access to over 80 percent of all the data. As a result, the internet isn’t as free as was intended.
That combined with the internet censorship bills sponsored by a few corporations has necessitated the need for a truly decentralized, anonymous internet. Everything you do online nowadays can be tracked.
In fact, it’s so bad that companies like Google know where you are at all times courtesy of their location apps. Privacy is fast becoming a thing of the past, and if we continue like this, no one will truly live a private life. This is why we need web 3.0.
And it appears that web 3.0 will be powered by blockchain technology that offers a truly decentralized internet, privacy and anonymity as well as data security. As a result, you won’t have one or more companies controlling large swathes of data, no more trading your data, or monitoring you and doing whatever they want with it.
Whatever data there is, is encrypted stored across networks, completely eliminating the need for centralized servers. This will drastically improve data security and take away the trust element, making it a truly trustless system.
Hackers for instance, will find it incredibly difficult to access data, as they would have to hack whole blockchains –something that’s currently impossible because of technological limitations.
All data placed on the blockchain are secured and encrypted thanks to its self-regulating rules and programming. This way, the user or data owner truly controls their data, only offering it in reward for whatever they want, instead of getting no rewards for the use of their data.
For example, instead of advertisers paying Facebook for your data, they would have to directly approach you for that opportunity. You will then decide if you want to provide it to them or not. Blockchain truly puts data control back in the hands of the owner.
More importantly, there’s transparency on the blockchain, thanks to its shared, decentralized ledger. This way, the users can see all the transactions happening on the blockchain, although there won’t be access to the wallets’ private information.
For instance, if someone sends you 3 BTC, there will be a record that someone sent that to your public address. But, no one will be able to look up that public address and determine that you were the recipient of the funds. This is all possible due to blockchain’s encryption technology that ensures your privacy.
Also, because of the ease of access, many of those who are currently unbanked around the world, will be able to use the technology to transfer, receive and save funds, without all the current limitations causing them to be unbanked right now.
Promising Web 3.0 Projects
In pursuance of a free and better web 3.0 internet, there already projects in different sectors that have started providing some of the solutions that will help the internet evolve from its present state.
The reality is that most people probably won’t notice the transition, but when it does, the world will be a better place.
Most projects will just naturally present themselves as cheaper, more efficient solutions to certain problems.
For instance, Substratum can make web hosting incredibly cheap by allowing you rent free space on people’s PCs, Augur can make futures trading incredibly easy, while Steemit can reward content creators who put out incredible value.
Let’s examine some of the sectors in which certain blockchain technologies are threatening to revolutionize the internet as we know it.
Most payments are made digitally these days. The world is fast moving away from cash based economy into just digital transactions. Most payments are made using designated credit or debit cards, third party payment processors and banks.
These all help make transactions faster and more convenient. Unfortunately, there are significant overhead costs such as cost of maintaining central servers, databases, security measures, and infrastructure maintenance among many others.
This is why transactions tend to attract higher charges. That, combined with the fact that you have to deal with third parties makes transactions like international transfers longer.
But certain blockchain technologies are aiming to drastically cut wait time and keep transactions costs at the barest minimum, thus guaranteeing that funds transfers are done in microseconds and cost very little to nothing to execute.
Some of these include Bitcoin, Monero, ZCash, and Litecoin. Then, blockchain projects like Stellar Lumens whose sole purpose is to link all transactions platforms, thus ensuring instant worldwide payments at incredibly low prices.
Transactions can either be in fiat currencies or cryptos, it doesn’t matter. All that matters is that the payments are fast, and costs far less than it ordinarily would to issue wire transfers across geographic territories.
There also blockchain techs that help merchants integrate cryptocurrencies, thus making it easy for them to accept cryptos of their choice. One of these is Bitpay. As you can see, all of these are powered by blockchain technology and capable of causing major disruptions in the finance industry if they reach full maturity.
Entertainment has become so ubiquitous thanks to the internet that allows consumers get their entertainment on demand and on the go. Smart record labels have been forced to switch their business models to a more modern and contemporary one.
As a result, we now have more entertainment at our fingertips than the world has ever had. Thanks to Hulu, Netflix, Pandora, Soundcloud, Spotify and Youtube among many others, you can get your entertainment wherever you are.
Gone are the days when entertainment was restricted to the tube. Mobile devices have rendered them obsolete. So, smart entertainment companies are choosing to meet their audiences wherever they are.
While some recording and entertainment companies have started getting the hang of it, they need to be prepared for another disruption from blockchain based technologies and projects that reward content creators directly, effectively eliminating them as the middlemen.
As if that’s not enough, some blockchain projects just might render some of these major web 2.0 tech companies irrelevant, seeing as they are poised to take power back from those platforms and hand them over to the content creators themselves.
So, no longer would artistes have to post their videos on Youtube to earn a small part of the advertising revenue or deal with Spotify’s poor compensation of artistes.
They can directly post and host their media, and collect payments directly from advertisers, resulting in huge paydays for them.
Some of these disruptive blockchain projects include Voise, Mycelia, DTube, Videocoin and Flixxo. Voise and Mycelia for instance, are aimed at helping artistes connect directly with their fans and encourage fair payments.
With Facebook’s recent Cambridge Analytica scandal, most people are becoming wary of social media. This is not surprising seeing as these social media networks sell your data to advertisers who the target you with their ads.
Some blockchain projects are tackling this problem. Imagine a social media network where all your data are encrypted, and advertisers can’t just target you with their ads, or extract your information.
Imagine a social media site where advertisers have to pay you to be able to show you their ads. Better still, imagine a social media site that doesn’t store your data, track your activities and is ad free? That would be cool, wouldn’t it?
Well, that’s what Steemit is trying to do. It’s essentially a social media site that promotes quality content courtesy of upvote and downvote system. The upvotes are compensated with micropayments in its native token, the STEEM.
Another promising project is the NEO powered blockchain project called Narrative, which has a similar but slightly different approach from Steemit. Indorse, another blockchain project is similar to LinkedIn, but a lot more private and versatile.
These are just some of the social media networks with incredible potential that are powered by blockchain tech and capable of revolutionizing the social media space.
Cloud Computing and Storage
Almost everyone knows about DropBox, Google Drive, Mega, PCloud, MicroSoft’s OneDrive, Amazon Web Service (AWS) and a host of other cloud computing and storage services that are available to you for storing your documents, media, data and so much more.
While these are good services, they have one problem: all the files are stored on a central server or managed by one entity –usually the company providing the service. And while they often endeavour to use the best security measures, this just means that your data isn’t as secure.
A DDoS attack by hackers can take down the servers, resulting in prolonged downtimes, while hack attacks in the event of a bug can result in access to sensitive customer data –both of these happened to Amazon a few years ago.
Siacoin is doing this by focusing on cloud storage through the renting of excess empty space from users on the network in exchange for the Siacoin token, which can then be traded and exchanged for cash.
This will cost a lot less than what you would pay for AWS or any other cloud computing or storage service. Filecoin is also doing something similar, and is offering the service at competitive rates.
As you can see, there are quite a few promising blockchain projects that will help transition our web from the 2.0 to the 3.0.
While it is possible that these projects might take a while before we’ll see some impressive results, we know that these problems can be solved once developers completely understand blockchain. And once they do, the internet will be a whole different place and experience.