It’s been 27 years since the invention of the world wide web. The initial Web 1.0 created places for information to live, but the information could not be interacted with. In 2004, web 2.0 got its start. This involved the push for the ability to interact with information.
Another 14 years later and we’ve seen the web 2.0 absolutely explode into the modern version of the web we experience today. The dominant players are household names – Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon (#GAFA)– these companies have mastered the use of the shareable web and made it as accessible as television or radio.
These giant companies are so prominent, that we’ve essentially placed our most sensitive information into their hands and opened ourselves up to information vulnerability. At this point, issues like Spectre and Meltdown have me thinking about how we can take steps to own our own information without relinquishing the benefits of the web. I don’t want these Silicon Valley giants to own my identity. And I certainly don’t want to be hacked.
Perhaps Blockchain is the answer.
Blockchain, a peer-to-peer network, has demonstrated in the last 10 years that it is secure. The blockchain network has made cryptocurrency – like the recently buzzing Bitcoin – possible.
I heard about Bitcoin back in 2014 but I am very late to the party in owning any cryptocurrency. It wasn’t till last December that my son in college texted me and told me his accounting major friends were all in on it. “You should check it out”, he said. I set up a coin base account and jumped in. Since then I’ve been learning all about the foundation of the mysterious world of cryptocurrency: the blockchain. This has led me to learn about the solutions that could possibly make the web a better place.
Decentralizing the web means returning it back to the people, with data kept in a swarm of millions of computers, rather than in one central location such as Google. It would not be dissimilar from Web 1.0. Bluzelle, a development company based in Singapore, has just secured 19.5m in funds to build a decentralized database technology. Their goal is to build a better and more secure internet. Their Initial Coin Offering will help many people benefit from its development but not own it.
Critics contend that a peer to peer system will have to be more regulated than it was in the Napster and Limewire days. And there is still a debate around whether cryptocurrency will survive as a legitimate currency. But the underlying technology is solid and has proven to be secure by using “private keys.” This would allow each individual to own and protect our identities. HTTP has proven to be too venerable. The next thing: IPFS
IPFS, short for Inter Planetary File System. IPFS allows users to download a page simultaneously from multiple locations. HTTP on the other hand can only pull down web pages from a single location at a time. IPFS is a peer-to-peer distributed file system that seeks to connect all computing devices with the same system of files. This method, like blockchain, checks identity with many computers to verify its authenticity. A single swarm, exchanging objects within one Git repository. In other words, IPFS provides a high-throughput, content-addressed block storage model, with content-addressed hyperlinks. It doesn’t need a private company like Google or Apple to store our data.
Perhaps open source code is the answer.
Greed broke the internet. Back when scientists and engineers were trading information in the 70s, no one was trying to make a buck off the internet. HTTP, the platform that we use today, was built as an open source. Think of your GPS. Almost all apps, social networks and web sites use location-based data. Could you imagine if that was owned by one company with no standard? Web 2.0 has become a greedy privatized landscape with power placed in the hands of the few. Innovation suffers. Developers are locked out.
It is our job as marketers and Big Idea Purveyors to inform our clients on where the internet and technology is going. Ecommerce clients, financial institutions could clearly benefit from our insights. The problems are clearly complex, and the solutions are even more difficult to grasp – but it doesn’t hurt to start trying.
Peer to Peer
March 6, 2018
Written by Paul Federico
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