Do not play God, Let’s build the base — An Infrastructure perspective of Web 3.0
Everyone is talking about Web 3.0 now. But what is Web 3.0? How can we define Web 3.0? Before we jump to any definitions, let’s take a look at the history.
About thirty years ago, scientists thought they needed a way to exchange information easily. The World Wide Web (WWW) is actually a protocol for a document system. Thanks to the internet protocol, people and organizations found it easy to host a server themselves and present the information to others. This is doable because the internet infrastructure was ready for that need. From the infrastructure perspective, the internet backbone was already there; we just did not have enough servers yet. However, the way to build a server and connect it to the Internet was already mature. All people needed to do was configure new hardware and prepare the information. And the most useful and fundamental concept is ‘hyperlink’, which enables users to navigate the Web and find whatever information they think the hyperlink may point to. At that time, users did not create information; information was organized, fed, and presented by some companies and organizations. That’s why many people describe Web 1.0 as an era when information was read-only. It is partially correct since we almost forgot the original virtual societies: Internet Relay Chat(IRC) and mailing list. Both are not part of the Web and use different protocols, yet they represent the most basic needs behind the Internet: content exchange and communications. The Infrastructure required was the same as a website; the owner needed a server to connect to the Internet. The need to reform these kinds of communications and content exchange was the most important drive behind the change from Web 1.0 to the so-called Web 2.0. But keep in mind that there’s no such thing as ‘Web 1.0’ when people build all the web applications. It was a concept proposed when people were trying to define Web 2.0.
At the age of Web 1.0, Infrastructure is the Internet backbone + Individual Servers.
Web 2.0 is a concept proposed around 20 years ago. Although, no one has ever built Web 2.0. We believe that we are emerging to Web 2.0 since the new web applications built after Web1.0 showed many different characteristics, so we summarized it as Web 2.0. IRC was replaced by ICQ, QQ, WeChat, and the online forum and blog replaced the mailing list. Users abandoned IRC and mailing lists because they were too slow and not user-friendly compared to the web applications. Old protocols have been discarded, the new web protocols have been used to fulfill the same needs as the IRC and mailing list. And this kind of change lets users see the chance to communicate in an extended way; that is to say, people now can talk to each other at any time, anywhere with audio or video. Users also see that the content exchange can be done in a very different way. Real-time, Interactive, and spread became the keywords for content generators. The nature of the content also has been changed. At the age of Web 1.0, content mainly meant text and few images. Still, now it means all media types, including blog posts, audio recordings, video recordings, podcasts, ebooks, tweets, streaming content, etc.
People tend to define Web 2.0 as an era where information can be read-write simultaneously. Again, this is only partially right because people forgot another essential requirement: commerce. People start to exchange everything they think is valuable on the Web. Companies sell merchandise online, which is a fundamental change that pushes online payment to be the core of most web applications. As a service for trading, online banking has become more and more independent by itself.
To meet the growing demand, the old Infrastructure is not adequate anymore. We need a much higher speed internet backbone to transfer information accumulated exponentially. We need a much larger storage capacity to collect the data. A single server cannot sustain the traffic and storage anymore. Companies build massive data centers to cluster the server and storage. In the last 10 years, people developed another concept called ‘cloud,’ which enabled the different companies to share the Infrastructure easier and more efficiently. But the cloud did not change the data center concept at the infrastructure level.
At the age of Web 2.0, Infrastructure is Internet backbone + Centralized data center (Cloud)
‘Desire Hath No Rest.’ People always want more. Even in the era of Web 2.0 people expanded their life experience in such a profound way that has never been seen in human history; people still believe Web 2.0 is not good enough. Everyone is screaming that we are shifting to the era of Web 3.0. But this is not how technology evolved. This is not how human beings evolved. In our human history, every time we want to do something like God, we always have been hit back badly.
Actually, there are already two versions of Web 3.0 that have been predicted by some kind of professionals who always want to act like an oracle, if not God himself. The first one is the Artificial Intelligence enhanced Web. People believe we should build a web that can extend the human brain and know everything about the users better than the users themselves. The second one is the IoT web which is supposed to connect everything including human beings. From our point of view, this is more realistic since it is proposed at the infrastructure level rather than the application level. But now, almost no one remembers these ‘Web 3.0s’ anymore. Ironically, we are talking about version 3 of Web 3.0.
In our view, the basic requirements of Web 2.0 won’t change, which are communication, content exchange, commerce, and online banking. Will there be any other requirement added to the list? For sure, we just don’t know what they are yet. We can examine the existing requirements and outlook the next stage for them.
What are the main concerns for communication now? Security and stability. Security concerns mainly come from the service providers whose corporate interests are not always consistent with users’ interests. And there’s no way to ensure that they will keep the communication confidential as they claimed. Stability concerns are also raised since the centralized service providers can always cut the wire as they wish. The services are built on the proprietary cloud, which can be offline for many reasons.
Some decentralized solutions are introduced, and we need to think about how to address these primary concerns at the infrastructure level. As the desired solution, the network protocol should provide:
1. Multiple connection channels routing the messages without losing any information due to hardware failure or single point service failure.
2. Trusted way to encrypt, transfer and decrypt the message.
Further, we also need to think about another question: Do we really need a communication tool to connect everyone? We believe the answer is NO. People communicate with a limited number of close networks in the real world. A centralized service is not really necessary. Should we provide Infrastructure for only a small group of people to host their dedicated services?
Nowadays, users have extensive choices of platforms for their content creations. YouTube, TikTok, Facebook, Twitter, etc. However, the problem here is that all of them are managed and owned by people you don’t know and what they can do to your creations. You have many choices, but you do not have the freedom it sounds like. Also, no matter what the companies claim, you do not own the content you create. Anything you create can be removed at any second for any reason.
So, the obvious question is: how can you protect your content? Firstly, it needs to be identified as belonging to yourself. Secondly, we need to ensure it can be accessed by authorized users only, and no one can block the content.
At the infrastructure level, it is clear that we need to provide network access that cannot be blocked and storage that no one can remove. The nature of the network ensures high availability.
E-commerce and online banking
Seller or buyer, no one wants to be locked by a certain platform. The platform already knows everything about its users. No matter how hard we want to protect our privacy. Your trading behaviors are recorded to identify you and even to re-shape you.
For now, it seems there’s no clear view of what the e-commerce model will be except the Amazon way. But we need to think about what we can do to help the sellers and buyers find each other without sacrificing the privacy of both sides. The capability of identity protection at the infrastructure level is significant.
In the past 20 years, online banking has mainly focused on online payment. But Bitcoin and Defi have changed the way of payment and the way people manage their financial assets. Blockchain technology will be the one that plays a prominent role in the economic revolution. But it is still not clear how blockchains can orchestrate themselves to provide a global network. We believe the cross-chain solution will be the key for the future.
Users have already started using BTC, ETH, or USDT as payment mediums rather than fiat. Currently, we manage our fiat in the bank. In the new era, how could we manage digital currency? We need a safe wallet, a secure and efficient way for asset trading and transfer. Users now also use digital currency as investment tools. Besides decentralized exchange, there are more and more innovative financial tools for digital currency. What do we need to support all these tools to ensure investment safety and security?
NFTs are hot these days, but there are so many basic features yet to be addressed properly with the current technology. Can it be transferred across the blockchain network? Is there any better off-chain storage to ensure the security and integrity of NFT? How should we prepare at the infrastructure level before the application-level solution can emerge?
Will Metaverse be the replacement of web 3.0? Do people really want to live their life in a fully virtual environment? We don’t know; we are not God. We are not creating a new world for human beings. We build it together in a way that no one can imagine and design.
Now we share our view on Web 3.0. We are not trying to define it; as we learned from history, any attempts to define it will fail. What we want to do is to build a better infrastructure to help Web 2.0 evolve by itself to satisfy the new needs of the users. In the following few articles, we will show you the STRATOS solution as the first decentralized Infrastructure built for the new era. Stay tuned.