It’s typically tough to pinpoint large technological changes. When did it become clear that Netflix would replace Blockbuster? Or that the car would replace the horse?
But in the case of blockchain-based, decentralized, web 3.0 technologies replacing the centralized web 2.0, we can pinpoint the date: January 8th, 2021. The day big tech revealed the extent of its power and guaranteed its own destruction.
This is not a matter of political belief. One can support the banning of Trump while still recognizing the inextricable current situation. Like The One Ring, once the existence of a power becomes known, it’s inevitable that a ceaseless struggle will ensue to control it.
We live in an increasingly divided world. A world in which even live video footage of the same event is interpreted in massively different ways by different parties. There will never again be a world in which hundreds of millions of people do not believe that these companies are biased against them. Political factions of all kinds, in all countries, will continue to pressure these companies to take action. And every action they take, or even inaction, is guaranteed to alienate another faction.
There’s no answer for big tech that doesn’t leave massive amounts of people unhappy, and no answer that won’t result in governments around the world incessantly attempting to influence them.
But there is web 3.0. While there are kinks to be worked out, blockchain-based decentralized solutions are ascendant. With open-source, locally-controlled, decentralized, blockchain-based protocols, we can build similar user experiences but without the singular point of power. In this new era, systems that eliminate the possibility of secret, motivated interference are the only ones that can be trusted.
The implication of this is not a world of anarchy or full of regunance. In some ways, it’s a return to an earlier time. A time in which different spaces can have different rules, and different communities can have spaces that fit them, without the incentive for agitation. When it’s one set of rules for all, turmoil is inevitable. When people can pick and choose communities that suit them, without being locked into them, more people can be satisfied and with less strife.
We’re seeing this ourselves, at LBRY. LBRY is a web 3.0 protocol that does to publishing what Bitcoin does to money. We’ve seen daily user growth shoot up 250%, as well as overall usage about 75%. Marginalized groups and alternative voices of all kinds are taking back control from a small number of people that think they deserve to control the internet.
Platforms should be empowering users, not censoring them. As we prepare to leave web 2.0 technologies behind us and embrace web 3.0, we can look forward to open, trustless and permissionless networks that allow us to interact with others without the need to surrender our privacy and autonomy to a capitalistic machine. We can have actual ownership of our identity and data, rather than ceding it to omnivorous corporations. If we care about our shared future, we must embrace solutions where the machinations of big tech do not and cannot exist.
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