Web3 the decentralized internet

Thank you for tuning in to this audio only podcast presentation. This is week 70 of The Lindahl Letter publication. A new edition arrives every Friday. This week the topic under consideration for The Lindahl Letter is, “Web3 the decentralized internet.”

A lot of enthusiasm and money are flowing into cryptocurrency these days. That wave of 25 billion in venture back financing started back in 2021 [0]. Most of that technology is based on blockchains. The co-founder of Ethereum Gavin Wood as far back as 2014 started talking about a blockchain technology being used to fundamentally change the internet [1]. Gavin is a big proponent of fixing the modern internet and very proud of the idea of coining the term “Web 3.0” certainly before the term became a part of the general lexicon of technology terms. Certainly fixing the modern internet is a noble quest to undertake. At this point, the fundamental technology allowing a free and open internet still exists, but we are seeing islands and speed traps popping up at a much larger pace. It is still an open question about if the metaverse will be pay to play or free and open with financial consequences after you enter the front door. 

At this point, it might be a good time to talk about what each of the different versions of the webs really mean and why that is important. You can learn about it from various cryptocurrency forms including Etherum [2]. They are very loud and eager to sell you on a vision of the future. A lot of people are betting venture capital on this version of the future. One of the writers over at Geeks for Geeks broke it down in a pretty decent way back on January 27, 2022 [3].

We need to go back to the 1990’s and consider how Web1 came to be and was used and consumed by a lot of people. People started to stand up servers and have web pages with rather static content. In a lot of ways it was the billboards of the internet built for the online highway. It was amazing and this method of communication was based on servers with content being delivered in a mostly one way direction. Some people called this the mostly “read-only web” [4]. That description was and still remains a pretty solid way of describing Web1.

Fast forward to 2000’s and you start to see Web2 begin to emerge. This is where the “read-only web” shifted to a way more collaborative web. You can think back to examples like Flickr for photo sharing, digg which mostly gave way to Reddit for links and things, Twitter, Facebook, and MySpace. I had to drop a MySpace reference into this post for those of you who miss your first online friend Tom. This is where network platforms started to gain steam and walled ecosystems began to flourish from collecting data and selling advertisements. Sometimes people call this the surveillance web and reference the immense infrastructure deployed to track people online using a combination of cookies and stitching data together. That is a topic that could end up being a future post. Nothing really stops me from weaving in bonus topics for future editions.

While Gavin Wood might be very vocal about coining the term Web3 you can rewind back to San Francisco, California on November 12, 2006 and see that term shared by John Markoff in the New York Times [5]. That article however does not talk about or have any context for blockchain or Bitcoin. Given those considerations I can see how Gavin makes the argument to have coined the version of Web3 that Etherum or other blockchain based technologies would power. Leave it to John Bogna of PC Magazine to dig into “What Is Web3 and How Will it Work?” [6]. It basically comes down to having a decentralized digital infrastructure where your personal information is not the foundation of the interaction. I would describe it as a version of the internet powered in some way by a blockchain based technology. I’m very curious to see an implementation working in practice. 

You can go out to the Web3 foundation and learn about what they are doing [7]. On their about page it clearly talks about the Web 3.0 technology stack. Entire communities have developed to track and learn about Web3 jobs including one that tracks the job counts at the top 100 Web3 companies [8]. The top five with several hundred jobs each are Binance, Crypto.com, Coinbase, Ripple, and Consensys. I scrolled past the rest of the list and some of them were names I know something about, but the vast majority of them don’t have any meaning to me. One day they might occupy space in the public mind. It is also possible that most of them will never have the name recognition of Google, Facebook, Microsoft, or Apple. 

Before we wrap up this post I will acknowledge that machine learning and artificial intelligence are mentioned all over the Web3 landscape in a variety of ways. However, primarily the technology core of how the stacks are being built seems to be around some type of blockchain based method to be decentralized. Generally speaking both machine learning and artificial intelligence are centralizing technologies. Certainly distributed machine learning model delivery or decentralized artificial intelligence would be interesting topics to consider, but neither of those things are commonly in the lexicon of discussion currently ongoing. 

Links and thoughts:

1. This week I’m sharing a video from Dr. Rachel Thomas who is a researcher in residence at the Queensland AI Hub. The video is titled “You CAN and SHOULD get involved with AI” which I thought was an interesting pitch about getting involved with AI.

Top 5 Tweets of the week:



[0] https://www.nytimes.com/2021/12/01/business/dealbook/crypto-venture-capital.html 

[1] https://gavofyork.medium.com/why-we-need-web-3-0-5da4f2bf95ab 

[2] https://ethereum.org/en/developers/docs/web2-vs-web3/ 

[3] https://www.geeksforgeeks.org/web-1-0-web-2-0-and-web-3-0-with-their-difference/ 

[4] https://www.web3.lu/divide-the-web-timeline-in-nine-epochs/ 

[5] https://www.nytimes.com/2006/11/12/business/12web.html 

[6] https://www.pcmag.com/how-to/what-is-web3-and-how-will-it-work#:~:text=Proponents%20envision%20Web3%20as%20an,public%20ledger%20of%20the%20blockchain

[7] https://web3.foundation/ or https://web3.foundation/about/ 

[8] https://web3.career/web3-companies/ 

What’s next for The Lindahl Letter?

  • Week 71: What are the best ML newsletters?
  • Week 72: Open source machine learning security
  • Week 73: Symbolic machine learning
  • Week 74: ML content automation
  • Week 75: Is ML destroying engineering colleges?

I’ll try to keep the what’s next list for The Lindahl Letter forward looking with at least five weeks of posts in planning or review. If you enjoyed this content, then please take a moment and share it with a friend. Thank you and enjoy the week ahead.  

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