back to article Web3: The next generation of the web is here… apparently

The growing scepticism around web3 can be summed up by the titles of a few recent blog posts. Web3 is B*llsh*t. Web3? I have my DAOts. Web3 is not decentralization. Or how about: Web3 is not Decentralisation — it's a Ploy to put Crypto Bros in Charge. Or Keep the web free, say no to Web3. For balance, let's look at what some …

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  1. Disgusted Of Tunbridge Wells Silver badge
    Paris Hilton

    Overly smug article, but "Dunning-Krugerrands." was mildly amusing.

    1. Francis Boyle

      "Mildly amusing"?

      I'd call it too good not to steal.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: "Mildly amusing"?

        Stealing them seems to be part of their circulatory mechanism.

        1. ecofeco Silver badge
          Thumb Up

          Re: "Mildly amusing"?

          Not enough upvotes.

  2. oiseau Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Brilliant!

    ... "a myth, a fairy story. It's what parents tell their kids about at night if they want them to grow up to become economists."

    Thank you for putting into words what I have thought about virtual* currencies from the start.

    *According to Merriam-Webster's

    virtual: very close to being something without actually being it. (my emphasis)

    It's an elaborate world-wide scam.

    When it comes down it will wreak havoc.

    In the meantime, it is the playground of scam artists.

    O.

    1. Deanamore

      Re: Brilliant!

      If they were just called cryptoassets I wouldn't mind because that's how they've been used ever since major players like Coinbase arrived. How many people holding Bitcoin today have even typed in a wallet address or ever plan on buying stuff with it? The thing that consistently amazes me about crypto fanatics is that they brag about how valuable it is whilst ignoring the fact that it's only valuable because it can be exchanged for something else - you know, an actual currency. Nobody is buying their groceries, paying their bills or trading in their car for Bitcoin because it's an asset so hodl up until it crashes and burns or get out whilst the pyramid scheme is still growing.

    2. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

      Re: Brilliant!

      very close to being something without actually being it. (my emphasis)

      Virtual servers come pretty close to "actually being it" though

      I mean they're as good if not better than real servers , as opposed to being a load of overhyped bullshit like virtual currencies

  3. Len
    Headmaster

    Forget technology

    To me this article confuses two separate layers, or abstraction levels, or means and ends. One is the technology used to achieve something and the other is the objective (or in reality, more the unintended effect).

    Web 1.0 wasn't about HTML, that was just a means to achieve an end, call it microbroadcasting if you will. Thanks to the Internet suddenly all sorts of niches could consume and create niche content that was previously unviable through traditional media. Anyone could create a blog about hamsters wearing leather outfits and all five people in the world that were always interested in hamsters wearing leather outfits could find an audience or read up on the latest on hamsters wearing leather outfits. It brought good and bad things.

    Web 2.0 wasn't about AJAX, that was just a means to achieve an end, call it interactive community forming if you will. Web apps, social media networks, etc. turned the internet into a place beyond broadcasting (I'll send and you will receive) to everyone constantly sending and receiving at the same time. It brought good and bad things.

    Web 3.0 will not be about the blockchain, or some protocol or API, that will just be a means to an end. It might be about decentralisation (that is a hope, not a dead-cert so far). Circumventing decades of banking processes and safeguards or ways to store and transfer wealth could mean decentralisation. Taking power away from a handful of tech platforms (or "gatekeepers" as EU policymakers call them quite appropriately) and making the internet about direct interaction between people is also a form of decentralisation. Forming a community on your own terms. This could bring good and bad things.

    Is there a lot of bullshit spoken about decentralisation and some of the potential underlying technologies such as the blockchain or federated services? Without a doubt. Focusing on the technology, however, is missing the big picture of what may or may not happen. Decentralisation could very well happen without the blockchain (that technology unmistakeably has its uses but it's also definitely overhyped).

    So, the big question is whether decentralisation is going to happen, whether it will be using the blockchain, torrents, federated services or some other technology is much less interesting. I get that it's interesting for a tech site such as El Reg but to dismiss the risks and rewards of decentralisation, or base the likelihood of it happening on a large scale on a view of the underlying technology is a mistake.

    1. Andy 73

      Re: Forget technology

      I think the question more accurately is what are the practical benefits of this miraculous new form of decentralisation, when web 1.0 already provided decentralisation?

      As with Bitcoin, what can I do now (better, faster, cheaper) that I couldn't do before?

      People are using "web 3.0 terms" as though they're bringing something new to the table - but smart contracts and decentralised platforms are meaningless unless there is a use case that end users actually value.

      1. Disgusted Of Tunbridge Wells Silver badge

        Re: Forget technology

        Smart contracts ( ie: software that executes on a trigger) sounds suspiciously like CGI as far as the user experience is concerned.

        Ie: it doesn't add anything that hasn't been around for around 30 years in terms of user experience.

      2. Len
        Headmaster

        Re: Forget technology

        I don't think Web 1.0 provided decentralisation to the extent that we're now talking about. It still relied on servers run by third parties. Third parties with Terms & Conditions (don't post child pornography, don't slag off the country's ruler etc. etc.)

        In a truly decentralised world my computer could speak to your computer directly, without an intermediate server or company to safeguard or police (like I said, full decentralisation will have good and bad sides). In a world of IPv4 depletion and everyone behind complex NAT systems that is very hard to do but the rise of IPv6 might change that.

        As for Bitcoin, I'm not a believer. From this side of the Atlantic Bitcoin feels a cumbersome, slow and expensive way to transfer money as European banking systems beat Bitcoin on all those fronts (free transactions in seconds at the click of perhaps three buttons, even to other banks). For an American I get the appeal. My father in law lives in Texas and the quickest and cheapest way for him to transfer money between his accounts at two different banks is to get cash out in one branch, drive to the other side of the street, and deposit it into his own account at a branch of the other bank. In a world with such antiquated (and partially corrupt) banking infrastructure, Bitcoin is revolutionary. That says very little about Bitcoin, however, and more about US banking infrastructure. Personally I don't think cryptocurrencies are going to disappear but they are not going to replace existing currencies (I think cryptocurrencies created by central banks actually have more potential).

        As for the blockchain as a technology, if you see it as a public and immutable record of things then it certainly has its revolutionary use cases (keeping track of ownership in a world without trust for instance). If you wade through the current NFT hype then parts of the NFT premise are definitely very valuable and likely here to stay long after the last scammer has moved onto something else.

        But, there is a lot of shit happening in that space. I have never fully believed in the business adage that "If you don't know who is the mug at the table, you are the mug". I do believe in mutually beneficial agreements and transactions. In the blockchain space, however, 95% of the actors are either deceiving someone, are being deceived, or are not smart enough to notice which cog they are. The other 5% are intelligent and honest people trying to do a good thing in a sea of shouty chaos.

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: Forget technology

          "I don't think Web 1.0 provided decentralisation to the extent that we're now talking about. It still relied on servers run by third parties."

          The third parties came along later. It started with places like CERN running their own servers; or does that count as Web 0.1?

          1. Len
            Happy

            Re: Forget technology

            When CERN was the only place in the world to have the World Wide Web that was obviously extremely centralised. ;-)

            I would argue that Web 1.0 started somewhere in the second half of the 1990's when, for the first time, millions of people, even non-geeks, could get their hands on affordable internet. That site about hamsters wearing leather outfits probably started at Geocities or Angelfire.

          2. PerlyKing
            Joke

            Re: Web 0.1

            Shhh, you'll attract jake!

        2. Ben Tasker Silver badge

          Re: Forget technology

          > In a truly decentralised world my computer could speak to your computer directly, without an intermediate server or company to safeguard or police (like I said, full decentralisation will have good and bad sides).

          That's existed for a very long time, it's called FreeNet. And yeah, it ended up absolutely awash with undesirable content.

        3. LDS Silver badge

          "It still relied on servers run by third parties."

          No, actually everybody could run its own server. The real problem was (and is) to have an always-on internet connection with enough bandwidth (and a public IP). Even when connection became always-on they were mostly asymmetric for many users that weren't business large enough, and dynamic IP (even when the IP is kept 24x7...) do not help.

          And of course you need to keep a server always on. I did for a while until my connection became too slow for actual web sites traffic - and I had to move to a VPS. But if the hardware became centralized, I still run my own web servers and sites.

          With FTTH and xPON connections (and IPv6) it becomes possible again to run easily your servers from your dwellings, if you like. Especially now the hardware requirements are far cheaper than twenty years ago. But ISPs do still put roadblocks to avoid people starting to run servers from home - because their infrastructure is not designed for a truly "decentralized" internet.

        4. aronfiechter

          Re: Forget technology

          How can my computer talk to yours directly? There's WebRTC, solidproject.org, and many others. None of them use a blockchain, and absolutely not crypto "currency".

          There's also Mastodon, a completely decentralized social network, and the Matrix protocol, which enables completely decentralized rich communication. Also here: no blockchain, no crypto bullshit.

          1. Disgusted Of Tunbridge Wells Silver badge

            Re: Forget technology

            There's also OpenBazar.

        5. msobkow Silver badge

          Re: Forget technology

          Oh, yes, well I sure do want to connect to Joe's Malware Emporium because it is a "blockchain-authenticated malware distributor"... :(

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Forget technology

        I have been involved in an Initial Coin Offering (ICO) where you create your own cryptocurrency and persuade other people to put real money into buying your freshly minted currency.

        People buy it for two reasons. Either 1) they believe in your vision or product and wish to support you, or 2) they just want to get in on the ground floor by buying your coin early before its valuation takes off but they don't give two hoots about you or your product.

        We did a lot of publicity, going to events, speaking to media etc. There are three questions we always hoped we would never be asked by the public or regulators and that could smash the foundations underneath your whole offering because it demonstrated an internal conflict.

        The first one tackled 1), if you wish to get investors (or invest), why not just sell shares privately? The reason is that startups wish to avoid all the scrutiny of real investing with rules, regulators and a prospectus. As an ICO backed startup you have to make a point about your product or service only working using the blockchain and so investing using the blockchain makes sense.

        This brings us to the second question, also tackling 1), what can the blockchain do for your product that could not be done by 10,000 public Excel spreadsheets linked to each other? That question destroys 90% of all blockchain investment drives as usually a big public database can achieve the same but without a blockchain.

        The third one is about whether your coin is a 'Security' (aka a share in the company), or a 'Utility Token' (a unit that is required on your platform to buy and/or sell things). Securities are supposed to increase in value hence the people from category 2) love to get in early. They are also heavily regulated so much harder to pull off scams or do on a tight budget. A 'Utility Token' that is only used on your own platform doesn't benefit from a massive fluctuation in value as the cost of things would change all the time making them extremely impractical. This means that you need to convince the regulator that your coin is a 'Utility Token' while convincing investors that your coin is going to increase heavily in value (making it behave like a security). That question is very hard to square without deep pockets and expensive investment bank consultants.

        In about a year of us working on it and promoting it we have been asked the second question only once(!), when it's probably the most important question of all. But, you know, the guy on the opposite stand has driven a Lamborghini to this event. He pulls the crowds (and investment) and nobody wonders why he is manning a stand in a shitty conference centre on a rainy Saturday to spend the day talking to weirdos and eating crap sandwiches if he can drive a car like that (oblivious to the fact that hiring the stand for the day cost four times as much as hiring a Lambo for a day).

        Were we successful? Meh. We raised a 7-figure sum but had to spend over half of it on promotion to raise that amount. Could we have been just as successful using traditional routes? Likely yes. Would I do it again? Hell no.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Legal opinion

          It's relatively easy to get legal opinion to prove a utility coin is a utility coin, having just recently done it myself on a project I work for.

          It was required for listing on a US-based centralised exchange - because when it comes down to it most people don't want to trade through a decentralized exchange (particularly ones named after food) and are far happier / more comfortable going through a centralised exchange.

          Of course they then ARE using crypto but definitely not web3 (or at least not the web3 library).

          1. Max Pyat

            Re: Legal opinion

            Of course you can get the legal opinion, however that does not remove liability should a court look at the question later and form a different legal opinion

      4. bitdivine

        Re: Forget technology

        Bitcoin is technically a dinosaur. It was great in that it showed the world that a Blockchain can be robust. Hats off to them. It still has a role as digital gold, I guess, but the most applications need faster, cheaper, more capable platforms. Ethereum 1 was more capable but is eye-wateringly expensive to use, and still slow and a great glacier-melter. So it had limited use cases. Maybe Eth 2 will be faster and cheaper. I wish them the best of luck. There is at least one other platform that is fast and cheap to use. Time to start building on it.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Forget technology

          Not sure why this post got downvotes, it is accurate. Bitcoin is getting all the attention, but cannot be meaningfully be used as a currency at volume. The transaction cost on that network is simply impractical for scale.

          1. spireite Silver badge

            Re: Forget technology

            Ironic that it cannot scale, yet the underlying infrastructure does scale by definition.

            Just proves the platform has a finite life, and then perceived welath disappers into the ether(eum)

          2. Disgusted Of Tunbridge Wells Silver badge

            Re: Forget technology

            I doubt this is why, but Bitcoin has a major software update coming that will address some of its biggest deficiencies.

            Also Etherium has a major update coming that will apparently reduce the transaction cost to something less ludicrous.

            ( You're talking over a hundred dollars to convert one Etherium token to another. It's crazy. ).

    2. dazzerrazzer

      Re: Forget technology

      Excellent post.

      Web3, for so it is named, is about shifting from the current web 2 model where internet users are effectively working for the tech giants producing content for the likes of Google, Facebook, etc.

      It is those companies that benefit by far the most from the users work, whilst the users, if they are lucky, get a tiny percentage in reward.

      Web3 is a catch-all for the move to greater returns for creators. No longer will creators be given the kind of commission rates the likes of Google offer: compare the profits from a self-hosted Adsense click-thru to the cost Google charges the advertiser - a huge and i mean HUGE difference.

      But not only that, because Google have got away with paying people less than 1pc of profit then all the others have joined in paying commission rates that would of been laughed out of the room in pre-internet days.

      Web3 isn't b**sh*t. Some of the tech is, or rather immature, but it offers a possible future where we aren't all Google ad IDs.

      Whether we get there is up to us, I guess.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @dazzerrazzer - Re: Forget technology

        What's preventing creators today to bypass web tech giants and retain 100% of the return ?

        Also, who's that "us" you're referring to ?

        1. jmch Silver badge

          Re: @dazzerrazzer - Forget technology

          "What's preventing creators today to bypass web tech giants and retain 100% of the return ?"

          The Web tech giants control all the eyeballs. The artist can set up their own site and keep 100%... But if I like their work and want to share that, how to do it without fb, Google, Instagram, twitter etc etc? Sure there's always email I guess!

          The Web 3 idea is more about conceptual decentralisation, which as many have pointed out, doesn't necessarily need block chain technology (although a pure peer to peer network has to solve the trust problem). The problem though, is more social - most people don't care either way about the network architecture, they want to share cat pictures with their contacts in the simplest possible way.

      2. Ben Tasker Silver badge

        Re: Forget technology

        That's a nice idea, but you don't actually need blockchain for that. There are already micro-payments providers - where they fall down is, user's don't like paying for content (or, more generously, don't do well with interruption to the workflow they're used to).

        Of course, in the Web3 vision, there's another reason micropayments don't work: a lot of content is posted on platforms like Facebook, Insta, Youtube etc, but you can't use micropayments there, and if you self-host to enable micro-payments then you don't get same level of views.

        The problem is, Web3 suffers from exactly the same issue - it falls outside the platforms, and so won't get the views/uptake.

        If you search for info on Web3, you find a lot of speel like that you've rolled off - Web3 let's creators own the proceeds of their work etc - but no real meat on how it'll actually work in practical terms. Perhaps you can embed something on your site that allows easy/seamless micropayments via ethereum, but you still suffer from the issue that you're outside the platforms and getting little-to-no traffic. You're no better off than with a non-blockchain solution.

        TL:DR - the ideals that Web3 is being sold on are praise-worthy, but it seems to lack any real technical definition, instead being comprised of aspirations and hype. Almost like it's intended solely to drive up the value of assets that some already hold.

        1. dazzerrazzer

          Re: Forget technology

          'TL:DR' blimey, you can talk, literally.

          Not everything is hype. Good things get overhyped but they are still good.

          Web3 is more than just crypto so you need to expand your Google searching a bit.

          Good lord, man, we'd still be in the trees if it were for ones like you.

          No one knows for sure. We are all making it up as we go along, defining the models to follow. Give it a go one day before you sit ringside booing the boxers claiming to be able to do better.

          Web3 will come whether you like it or not.

          1. dazzerrazzer

            Re: Forget technology

            Oh, loving those downvotes. Lol. Honestly made me laugh so much. Reminded me of how a few of us back in 1999 saw the potential of internet on your phones and set about creating what you use today.

            If you lot had upvoted me tons I would be seriously worried.

            We have a huge storeroom out back for the dinosaurs, just down the corridor there. Please close the door on your way out.

            1. msobkow Silver badge

              Re: Forget technology

              You expect upvotes for raving fanboi nonsense that all the technically astute people here can see through as easily as sheet glass?

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Forget technology

              There will be a web 3.0, 4.0 and so on.

              The question is whether this publicised definition with their hype and meme qualities is going to be the real web3.0, that actually gets implemented and works. with all this loose hyperbolic definitions, anyone can say "look my web3.0 happened." I'm rather confident my web3.0 will happen.

              There are issues with web2.0 particularly around revenue attribution and renumeration commensurate with value addition. Blockchain/smart contract could help solve that. For now it is just a glorified distributed database, that the "smart contract" updates. It can be solved today for less cost.

              I accept micropayments are not a solution, as it is a manual step rather than renumeration being intrinsically linked to the value extracting action (such as playing a track or watching a video).

              What is being defined today are nice concepts about empowering creators, but nothing in these tools actually allow for this to be in a fair way, just a different way.

              For eg there is a "smart contract" to attribute value to the "owner" of say every single song play of a track, how do I, the user, know the smart contract is bug free when deducting from my wallet? How does an artist know that the smart contract isn't "embezzling" to the contract developers account?

              Who do I contact in that anonymised world? There is a fundamental contradiction when the anonymity and verification are being coupled in a decentralised model to me. If it is anonymous, how can it be regulated to be fair and correct? web3.0 does not answer how a unregulated world would work.

              Frankly social media toxicity is a creation of the anonymity of web2.0, I do not want to think of what a world where financial transactions are also anonymous would mean.

              The hype is around anonymity then, and equal power to all to overcome the web giants (apparently - you still are at the mercy of the crypto platform you have to choose... shh...details.. ).

              the web3.0 hype promises an unregulared world as a positive, "smart contracts" anonymously "fair", "ethical" web away from the web giants.

              So who exactly in this anonymous utopia actually make sure all this anonymous tech is "fair", "ethical", "honorable", "good". web3.0 is being hyped by people who either so naive to think that every programmer is ethical, or so arrogant to think that they are such good programmers that can actually program the perfectly fair and ethical platform, that has foreseen every issue.

              Imagine a world where the computer really does says no, or rather "smart contract says no". And there is nothing, not even a megacorp, to name and face.

              This technology will emerge regardless, I'm unconvinced for the wider good. It is just going to make a different set of elites richer, this time without accountability and with anonymity.

              Deliciously exploitable. web 3.0 FTW.

            3. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Forget technology

              >> Reminded me of how a few of us back in 1999 saw the potential of internet on your phones and set about creating what you use today.

              To be fair until Apple put a big capactive touch screen, with an onscreen keyboard, on a phone, it remained a shit idea.

              So if you can point to the "big screen" of web 3.0, sure web3.0 is good, great, and will power time travel technology.

          2. Ben Tasker Silver badge

            Re: Forget technology

            > 'TL:DR' blimey, you can talk, literally.

            I think you've missed the point of that line...

            I wasn't saying yours was too long, I was providing a TL:DR for mine, it's not an uncommon thing to do.

            Normally, if someone's complaining yours is TL, then the TL:DR will be somewhere near the top of their response, not after they've been responding to points you've raised.

            > Not everything is hype. Good things get overhyped but they are still good.

            True, but good things also get missed amongst the hype. Given most of Web3 currently appears to be aspiration and hype, it doesn't bode well for any actual innovators lost in amongst the fog.

            > Web3 is more than just crypto so you need to expand your Google searching a bit.

            Funny, everything I've read says that blockchain is key to the decentralization that Web3 aims for. Blockchain relies on crypto (as in proper crypto, not digital dollars).

            Of course, cryptocurrency also seems to be baked into it, even down to the idea that your reward comes in the form of a crypto-token.

            It's a bit like saying that there's more to the Internet than TCP/IP - it's true, but it's pretty damn important all the same.

            > Give it a go one day before you sit ringside booing the boxers claiming to be able to do better.

            I think you need to check your reading comprehension - what I said was that crypto/web3 brings no benefit vs other existing solutions. I didn't claim the other solutions were better, just that a crypto-web3 is no better.

            > Web3 will come whether you like it or not.

            I'm sure it will, that doesn't mean it'll be good, or even an improvement. At the moment, though, there doesn't seem to be much technical substance to it.

            It's not just the technicals either - Web3 "will" save us from the Web2 overlords (the distribution channels/platforms - i.e. YT, Facebook etc). Except... how are creators going to attract users? Ultimately, in the Web3 utopia, we may well end up with those same platforms dominating, just with blockchain mixed in - and that's assuming there's some kind of cutover. In reality, users will probably stay within the web2 channels, and web3 only creators will see very little.

            I'm more than happy to get excited about Web3 when there's an actually viable plan involved rather than smoke and magic.

            As an easy example, here's

            - a Twitter thread in favour of Web3: https://twitter.com/cdixon/status/1442201621266534402

            - Ethereum's page on Web3: https://ethereum.org/en/developers/docs/web2-vs-web3/

            - a post not in favour: https://www.stephendiehl.com/blog/web3-bullshit.html

            Note that complete lack of technical arguments/detail in the "pro" examples. They're all "this'll be better", but it's all entirely surface level. Meanwhile, "Web3 is bullshit" advances *actual* technical arguments.

            You don't need to be "better" to gain adoption - sometimes the worst solution wins. What's often needed where users are concerned is convenience - Web3 has to fight against the convenience of apathy (users already in their facebook bubble, for example). But, utility is also important.

            Something crypto-currency supporters seem to miss is that some of the "faults" they point to in the fiat system is actually seen as a benefit.

            An easy example is the idea that there's no way to reverse a transaction:

            - to cryptofolk this is good, it means there's no central authority dictating movement of your money etc

            - the rest of the world looks at how many chargebacks are issued *every single day*, the protections we get from s31 etc as well as the protection we get from the bank in some circumstances

            It's hard to believe that the same naivety isn't going to surface in Web3, existing as it does as a bunch of "if we say we'll build it, someone'll figure out how to"

        2. Confused of Tadley

          Re: Forget technology

          'If you search for info on' ...anything then what do you use? Most of the world uses Google or Bing. Without search then how do the leather-clad hampster fans find each other - classified ads in a newspaper?

          Until a decentralised but widely useable search system becomes available then the web remains tied to gatekeepers who exist to monetise searching.

          Even if a decentralised search did become available it would still need paying for, either by micro-pay per search or 'free' searching that depends on monetisation of search to pay the bills. However it may get done, most of the income would end up with one or two businesses, so no change here then.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @Len - Re: Forget technology

      Stinking rich billionaires wanting to bypass banking and finance regulations to store and transfer wealth. What can possibly go wrong ? Direct interaction between people, forming a community and all that blah,blah, did you really fall for that trick ?

      1. Len

        Re: @Len - Forget technology

        Decentralisation can come in all kinds of ways. I have very little time for Libertarian shysters who only care about their own liberty (from paying taxes) but not other's. I am not a big believer in the benefits of cryptocurrencies, because of those shysters but also because I believe in having protections and safeguards in a financial system.

        Decentralisation, however, can also mean people running their own Mastodon instances to not be reliant on Twitter, their own Diaspora instance to not be reliant on Facebook, or their own Matrix instances to not be reliant on Whatsapp (though that is not also not without its issues, look at how Telegram became a popular al-Qa'ida hideout).

        1. mistersaxon

          Re: @Len - Forget technology

          Nobody (let me repeat that - NOBODY) is "reliant" on FB or Twitter. Neither platform provides anything essential to life. In fact I would say that both provide something that is detrimental to life overall, even if you don't use the platform (because of the environmental impact).

          But, as others have already noted, the issue is basically that in a "decentralised" world (of Samsung and iPhone mainly) is still gatekept(?) by the OS suppliers. And besides all that, a truly decentralised (==Libertarian) world is one where barter is the only realistic means of exchange. It's anti-social in the most basic sense of the word, and none of us are actually really ready for that.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: @Len - Forget technology

            "a truly decentralised (==Libertarian) world is one where barter is the only realistic means of exchange."

            What? Why? Because there is no decentralized currency?

            Hmm.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: @Len - Forget technology

          >>Decentralisation, however, can also mean people running their own Mastodon instances to not be reliant on Twitter, their own Diaspora instance to not be reliant on Facebook, or their own Matrix instances to not be reliant on Whatsapp (though that is not also not without its issues, look at how Telegram became a popular al-Qa'ida hideout).

          What makes crypto the technology gap here? Alternates are possible in web 2.0, and nothing of crypto tech implicity gives user adoption.

          I mean if this where true every twitter user would be on mastodon?

          So the response is hype too - it is confusing the hype of an alternative implementation but forgetting that they still lack with practical utility.

          There needs to be a killer feature that web2 cannot do, that users will turn over to use. It can be its own new concept (as social media was to web2.0) or it has to be so good that peoople turn to choose web3 implementations.

          A bunch of sites running decentralised does not make a next gen internet with billions of users. So far blockchain looks nice as a database replacement with the queries "bound".

    4. katrinab Silver badge
      Paris Hilton

      Re: Forget technology

      We had the interactive community forming stuff before Web 2.0 with the likes of usenet and irc. In fact, usenet predates web 1 by about 10 years.

      1. ecofeco Silver badge

        Re: Forget technology

        And before that, dial-up BBS.

        The last damn thing we need is more layers of crap. The Internet is unstable enough as it is.

  4. F0ulRaven

    We are in strange times where nonsense becomes reality if enough people believe it.

    I gave up on bitcoins as a serious idea around 2013, and gave up on blockchain about 3 years later, but then realised that facts are irrelevant if enough people are involved, and keep convincing themselves that they are all on the bus to endless riches.

    Web3 will happen, if only so you can use a simple term instead of gullible millennial with a gaming habit. But as for becoming rich? Only if you are willing to sell up and walk away, and none of those involved wants to point at the naked man.

    1. oiseau Silver badge
      Facepalm

      We are in strange times where nonsense becomes reality if enough people believe it.

      ... facts are irrelevant if enough people are involved, and keep convincing themselves that they are all on the bus to endless riches.

      Quite so.

      But hasn't the world seen this before?

      Think the Dutch tulip craze in 1634/1637 or the stock market frenzy in the US in 1929.

      In both cases it was firmly believed by hoi polloi that the market value of tulips/stocks would continue to rise and rise (and rise) and that there was real money to be made buying low and selling high.

      Seems that nothing much has changed: it's just human nature.

      But not at its best.

      O.

    2. very angry man

      Web3: The next generation of the web is here… apparently

      if only so you can use a simple term instead of gullible millennial with a gaming habit.

      Cant we mix in covid, nanobots, 5g, and get the microshaft meta, ect to just wipe out the gullible millennial and start over again , without making those same mistakes?

    3. msobkow Silver badge

      Nonsense has been spun as reality since the first Politician ran for election...

  5. Tom7

    The thing is, web3 should be a thing and it should be completely decentralised... it just shouldn't involve cryptocurrency. It should involve cryptography.

    OpenPGP has had almost everything you need for years. Here's a brief outline of how a decentralised social network works:

    You start by installing an app on a device which we'll call The App. When you first start The App, it creates as self-signed OpenPGP identity.

    Next time you see a friend of yours, you convince them to install The App. You use NFC to cryptographically sign each other's identities - in OpenPGP terms, this is a "Positive Certification". On each of your phones, The App notes at which IP address they found each other.

    Once you have a circle of friends created in this way, you might accepting remote friend requests by certifying someone else's identity (and them certifying yours). These work in the same way as NFC certifications, but they are "Casual Certifications" rather than positive ones. You can gauge how likely it is that a friend request really came from the person it claims to come from by seeing how many of your friends have given them positive certifications or casual certifications; their identity can be given a score by The App on this basis.

    The App keeps track of how it contacts your friends (ie their IP addresses). Whenever your device's IP address changes, it sends a message to each of your friends saying, "Hey, my IP address has changed." You use your OpenPGP identity to sign this message so they can tell it's really from you.

    Whenever you post new content, The App sends a signed message to inform all of your friends. The App on their devices can decide whether to download the content immediately from you or wait until a later time or ignore it entirely, based on user preferences, network conditions etc.

    If The App tries to contact a friend and gets either no response or a response not signed with the right key, it starts asking all your other friends in turn, "Do you know where this identity is?" If no-one has a valid location for them, it means that everyone's device has changed IP address simultaneously (or close enough that the address change notifications didn't get through). It's not entirely impossible - say if everyone in your circle turned their phone off overnight or there was a really major internet outage or something. But on the whole, it's pretty unlikely to happen. And it's mitigated in two ways. Firstly, The App on devices on the same subnet uses IP multicast to find each other and check whether they've signed each others' identities. And secondly, friends who are physically next to each other can use NFC to reconnect. If one person falls off the network somehow, it only takes reconnecting with one person to then reconnect with your entire network.

    This is proper social networking. It's not mediated by anyone; you decide who you trust, what you want to see, what you share with whom. Nothing is stored on a server anywhere; the only server involved in the whole damn thing is the one you install the app off of. There is no way for advertisers to advertise on it. There is no way for political parties / conspiracy theorists / antivaxxers / whatever other nutjobs to push their content unless you actually know them. Implementing end-to-end encryption of all the content is trivial, if that's what you want; at any rate, it's all signed. Decided you don't like your identity and want to start fresh? Just uninstall the app and reinstall it. You'll have to reconnect with all your friends with your new identity, but that's what starting fresh is actually like.

    There are three problems:

    * Almost every device is behind a NAT gate these days. This makes direct connections between devices impossible to do with any reliability. Once IP6 is universal and every device has a publicly routable IP6 address, this problem will go away. We are not there yet. I would not be surprised to find that Facebook is actively discouraging ISPs from implementing IP6 to prevent exactly this sort of thing.

    * There is no way to monetise it. Or not that I can think of. You could perhaps sell the app. But someone will just write a compatible client. It will be worse and have crypto backdoors and will inject advertising into the network but it will be cheaper than yours and people will use it. Which leads to the third problem:

    * No-one has done it yet.

    1. Disgusted Of Tunbridge Wells Silver badge

      That's worse in every way than what we have now.

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