Confused by Web 3.0? The future of data (and apps) will be evolutionary, not revolutionary
Updated: Feb 8, 2022
While many Blockchain capabilities will prove transformational, other technologies and approaches are contributing to the future of privacy, transparency, and innovation.
Have you noticed something? It seems more and more people are taking a closer look at Web 3.0 and finding that it leaves something to be desired as a foundation for the future of data and applications.
There are several issues that tend to come up in such reviews, but they can be roughly summarized as follows:
Blockchain offers limited interoperability
Decentralized apps are inflexible
Decentralization does not preclude 'Big Tech' monopolies
Tim O'Reilly, the well-respected observer of data management trends recently described it this way:
"The failure to think through and build interfaces to existing legal and commercial mechanisms is in stark contrast to previous generations of the web, which quickly became a digital shadow of everything in the physical world—people, objects, locations, businesses—with interconnections that made it easy to create economically valuable new services in the existing economy. The easy money to be made speculating on crypto assets seems to have distracted developers and investors from the hard work of building useful real-world services." - Tim O'Reilly on the O'Reilly website, December 2021
As pointed out in a recent New York Times article, the fact is that there is no single technology, not even Blockchain, that represents the "end of intermediation".
Perhaps a more productive question to ask is this: What are the core values that we want our data and apps to embody moving forward?
A few candidates include:
To be fair, many of these have been surfaced in the various interpreations of Web 3.0, and in an increasingly data-centric World, it will be difficult, if not impossible, to truly establish any of these values without also delivering the others.
It is our position at the Data Collaboration Alliance that technologists should remain agnostic towards technologies, and keep everything on the table if it can contribute to building the infrastrucure for data and applications that humanity really deserves.
Building on a foundation
Much of the recent criticism of Web 3.0 is based on labeling its enthusiasts as "utopian" but we actually see that as their core strength. The World needs people unafraid to tackle seemingly impossible challenges.
There are also significant capabilities inherent to Crypto/Blockchain that will be essential to any serious discussion about the future of data and apps, including:
Credential data - including Zero-Knowledge Proof
Transaction data - including Smart Contracts