The decentralized web refers to a web which is not dominated by powerful monopolies. It’s actually a lot like the web we have now, but with one key difference: its underlying architecture is decentralized, so that it becomes much difficult for any one entity to take down any single web page, website, or service. It takes control away from powerful tech monopolies.
Why are people excited about the decentralized web?
In effect, the decentralized web is a lot like the earliest version of the web. It aims to roll back the changes that came with Web 2.0, as we began to communicate with each other and share information through centralized services provided by big companies such as Google, Facebook, Microsoft, and Amazon. The decentralized web aims to make us less dependent on these tech giants. Instead, users will have control over their data enabling them to directly interact and exchange messages with others in their network.
Blockchain offers a perfect solution to helping us achieve a decentralized web. By creating a decentralized public digital ledger of transactions, you can take the power out of established monopolies and back to those who are simply part of the decentralized network. We saw some advancements in the direction of decentralized web with the launch of Tim Berners-Lee’s startup, Inrupt. The goal of this startup is to get rid of the tech giant’s monopolies on user data. Tim Berners-Lee hopes to achieve this with the help of his open source project, Solid. Solid provides every user a choice of where they want to store their data, which specific people and groups can access the select elements in a data, and which apps you use. Further examples are Cloudflare introducing IPFS Gateway, which allows you to easily access content from InterPlanetary File System (IPFS), and, more recently, Origin DApp, which is a true peer to peer marketplace on the Ethereum blockchain with origin-js.
A note of caution
Despite these advances, the decentralized web is still in its infancy. There are still no “killer apps” that promises the same level of features that are we used to now. Many of the apps that do exist are clunky and difficult to use. One of the promises that decentralized makes is being faster, but there is a long way to go on that. There are much bigger issues related to governance such as how the decentralized web will come together when no one is in charge and what is the guarantee that it will not become centralized again.
Is the decentralized web a treat… or a trick?
Going by the current status of decentralized web, it seems to be a trick. No one likes “change” and it takes a long time to get used to the change. The decentralized web has to offer much more to replace the current functionalities we enjoy.