Do you ever wonder what would a blockchain-powered next-generation internet look like? In this era when blockchain is changing the internet, it is not surprising for blockchain to completely take over the internet.
It was in October of 2008 when a white paper with the title, “Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System” was made public by a pseudonymous person or group of persons under the name of Satoshi Nakamoto. Many were clueless that the system described in that paper will disrupt technology and the internet.
For several years since its introduction blockchain is regarded as the technology that can power the next generation of the internet or the decentralised web. Can it change how people view and use the internet?
What is Centralisation?
Before tackling the decentralised web, it is important to first understand the concept of centralisation as it pertains to the internet. The internet is currently centralised. This means that only a small number of entities have control over the network. These powerful tech companies have power over the internet as they can dictate how people and smaller entities can use it.
The problem with centralisation is that only a few powerful entities benefit from it. This includes Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix, Google, Microsoft, and Twitter. They effectively control the internet and this can become problematic in terms of data privacy and control of information.
When people go online, they would inevitably share personal data daily. Most of these sensitive data are kept in giant servers owned by the bigwigs and located in a few places worldwide. Market researchers and advertisers can get access to this valuable data and directly influence our lives. Most of these huge companies are even advertisers themselves. So they pretty much have easy access to all our data. It is as if it was handed to them willingly.
These tech companies also control the internet traffic to many online news sources. So they influence the source of information that people get access to at any given time. Additionally, centralised data storage is also vulnerable to hacking and various cyber threat. This is something that decentralised web wants to address.
What is Decentralised Web?
Many proponents of the blockchain welcomed the idea of a decentralised web or web3 mainly because it changes storage information and online sharing of data. Unlike the centralised web, the decentralised internet will rely on a network of computers. This will widely distribute collected data. Each computer will serve as a node that will contribute power and memory toward a distributed storage network system. In short, no data will be in any privately-owned system. Therefore, there will be no way for a hacker to maliciously access data or a powerful tech company to control the data.
Blockchain’s distributed ledger uses a peer-to-peer infrastructure of nodes and this is how it will change how next-generation internet will look like.
Can a Blockchain-Powered Next-Generation Internet Exist?
Blockchain networks will allow data storage across different nodes within the blockchain. This blockchain will use a ledger of transactions and smart contracts that has the capacity for automatic execution provided that it satisfies given conditions. Whilst it is not necessary, the use of a blockchain with a native coin or token helps in the verification process of transactions and data entry into the chain. This provides voting or governance rights to all those within the network. In theory, blockchain-powered internet is less corruptible. It does not respond to any corporate or political regulation. As a result, it provides a more appealing technology for next-generation of internet. This is an ideal set up most internet users want, particularly when then the topic of data privacy is the main concern.
Investigating Blockchain-Powered Alternatives
Today’s centralised internet needs a major overhaul and one way of doing it is making it decentralised through blockchain-powered alternatives. Tim Berners-Lee, the computer scientist known for inventing the World Wide Web is exploring a possible alternative. He created the “Solid” platform that makes use of current web protocols whilst allowing users to have power over their data. Data storage will be through a data pod, which can integrate with various applications and platforms.
For instance, a web user who will move from browsing a search engine to a social media platform can use their self-stored Solid data pod for transaction verifications within the platform. During the process, the user will only reveal only the needed data to perform the activity.
For now, blockchain technology still faces several issues and challenges. These challenges, in a way, still hamper its impact on the use of the internet. Whilst it is exciting to see a blockchain-powered next-generation internet, it still has a long way to go. One problem with blockchain is its interoperability. Many blockchain proponents claim interoperability like Polkadot, it is lacking in many aspects. At the moment, no single blockchain exist that has enough power or is independent enough to become the foundation of the internet.
Once blockchain technology resolves the challenge of interoperability, then decentralised web could have a future. When different chains of blockchain interconnect, it could be enough to provide the foundation for web3.
Scalability is also an issue that blockchain technology must address. Ethereum, an advanced blockchain can only process several numbers of transaction per second. Only about 15 transactions per second can proceed via Ethereum. Just imagine the scale needed to power the internet. Each query into the search engine or a post on social media will create a blockchain transaction. Scalability issues will create lags for each post and this is not good because people nowadays expect instant solutions. Increasing transactional capacity is crucial for blockchain-powered next-generation internet.
What will blockchain-powered next-generation internet look like? No one knows for sure yet but it is exciting enough to think about it. Still, blockchain technology has a long way to go. For now, it can change the way we view and use the internet but only on a small scale.