Blockchain technology has come a long way. Not so long ago, cryptocurrency was marginalized, which was preached by a vociferous minority. That changed when the COVID-19 pandemic drove people home with plenty of time to dive into new interests. Cryptocurrency has benefited from the increased interest and has become a part of everyday conversations among friends, family, and colleagues.
However, it is still early days in cryptography. Wide use remains elusive, and the digital economy is still dominated by traditional technology gatekeepers. To loosen this grip, those building a decentralized Internet, or Web 3.0, should better define the narrative of what is at stake if we maintain the status quo.
We have a particularly compelling opportunity to make sense of the narrative after last month, when attitudes toward Web 2.0 central controls became particularly unpleasant. The effort becomes clearer when we see how the structural differences of Web 2.0 affect us all.
Facebook first testified before Congress when a former employee submitted a closed-door research that showed the platform prioritizes “profit over security” for users. These testimonials were accompanied by a severe blackout on Facebook that affected all of their products around the world. Then finally, an unknown hacker released a lot of data from the video game streaming platform Amazon.com Inc. to Twitch, which included source code and batches from the creator in an effort to “foster more disruption and competition in online video streaming.”
Although I do not accept unauthorized access to confidential company information, I certainly understood the feelings associated with it. With the founder of Web 3.0 focused on building an open infrastructure for video streaming, the scale and scale of Twitch, YouTube and Facebook could stifle innovation. New services don’t have many opportunities to relocate to areas where the economies of scale (and access to the eyeballs) used by these companies are dominant.
So how can we return the Internet to its original vision of an open platform and a global tool in which everyone can contribute and create? We must take advantage of storytelling to welcome more developers and users into the heart of the thriving Web 3.0 ecosystem.
Open source Web 3.0 means that instead of hacking and leaking closed code, contributors can collaborate on technologies and features from day one. Compare that to the walled gardens that were built and guarded by Big Tech’s gatekeepers. Once you lock yourself in, you have little room to rest or a chance to leave. People, companies, and developers simply depend on the whims of the central government to adapt to changes in the product or environment.
You have seen the tremendous impact these gatekeepers have on developers. After Groupon acquired our first company, my co-founder and I built a company based on Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) for the main technology portal gatekeepers: Facebook, Google, Pinterest, and Twitter. First of all, these platforms have been more open so we can associate our service with these platforms. Suddenly, our access was cut short when these platforms decided to block access to third parties. Our service ended up failing because these platforms didn’t stay open, and that was a living lesson about the dangers of using someone else’s tech desk.
This experience led us to our next project: building an open video infrastructure for live, real-time broadcasting. By creating an open and decentralized approach, we can engage developers, grow the community, and put in place incentives that protect all stakeholders. It is an approach that requires a shift from protectionism to an abundance approach. The pie is either too big. Thus, competition must be suppressed and prevented at all costs, otherwise the sum will be greater than the parts, and society together can create more value than it can create alone.
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In its purest form, the Web 3.0 economy is transparent and unlicensed, giving stakeholders confidence that vested interests are not constraining or controlling outcomes in their favour. This form of protection for creativity is becoming more and more popular every day because it is more creative than today’s alternatives.
This transparent economy is what the creators lack in the current Web 2.0 dynamic. As long as creators build walled gardens, they remain tied to the economy each platform chooses.