Our Journey to The Web 3 Village
The term “global village” has been thrown around since 1964. Coined by Canadian media theorist Marshall McLuhan, he spoke of the effects of media technologies and how they’d facilitate the interconnectedness of everyone all over the planet, into one connected community. He couldn’t have predicted the technology tools we have now, but his idea is revolutionary. One unified collective where borders and distances don’t matter. We’ve been striving for the keys to the village ever since. Some say that the blockchain is the key and that DAOs and other Web3 constructs are that village. We tend to agree.
Given the current climate of how organizations function and how the internet isn’t exactly democratic, Web3 sounds like a promising solution. Yes, it has the potential to change how we organize a business venture in a democratic and transparent way, but we’re still in the early stages of understanding the capabilities of Web3, with a bright future ahead.
But first, we need to understand how we got here, to understand where we’re going.
But First, a Disclaimer
When talking about Web3, it can’t be ignored that the blockchain and cryptocurrencies go hand in hand. Given the current climate of crypto turbulence regarding FTX and the potential ramifications, however, it doesn’t change the holistic intent and potential behind the blockchain and Web3 as a whole.
Where we go from here as a Web3 community can only be to a better-informed and more stable place.
Democracy, Feudalism and the Internet
Time for a quick history lesson. The first iteration of the internet was established in the 80’s. Called ARPANET, it was the technical foundation for what became the internet. It was up to Tim Berners-Lee to take that idea and create the WWW by devising and implementing the ideas of web browsers and web servers. This became the Web1 - the first iteration of the World Wide Web. From the outside, it looks like a fairly loose interpretation of McLuhan’s village. There was the ability to build websites and it allowed for the democratization of publishing. You could build your personal GeoCities site, publish what you want, and tell your friends to come visit. It was essentially just a content delivery network (CDN) that was big, open and democratic. Also, advertising wasn’t allowed. But, search engines didn’t exist yet, and the web wasn’t quite enough to be a true global village.
The world had to wait for the next iteration of the internet - Web2. Here, the internet became a participative social web. Here we saw user generated content, interaction and collaboration between users, and interoperability for end users. This means search engines, social media, platforms, and e-commerce. Now, the web was truly world wide and scaled up the village. We can reach everyone, anywhere in the world. Work can be remote and tools such as VoIP were created to shorten the distance between people and increase access. We have effectively shrunk our planet into a global coexistence altered by transnational commerce, migration, and culture. But we’re not a true global village.
Not yet, anyway.
The world, as it stands, with mega-corporations, rules, platforms, etc. is more of a feudal system - a few key landowners, who let us use the fields and till their soil, but on their terms. The promise of Web1 and Web2 was that they were supposed to be a big, open, and democratic system, catered towards users. But, instead the reality is far from those ideals. Technically, once you sign the T & Cs, you’re subject to the rules that Meta, Google, Amazon, or any other platform that offers you use of their tools, have set out. They own the pieces of the internet you want and stand at the gates. You get to use it, but in exchange for personal data.
While users strive for a sense of community, the current landscape is an illusion. It’s not a true, egalitarian, democratic platform. There’s a hierarchy and it doesn’t entirely have your best interests at heart. But as a brief look into history will tell you, technology marches on, and there’s never a shortage of ideas in the tech space. While there have been a large number of new additions to this Web2 space, the newest iteration of the internet has emerged: Web3. The land of blockchains, crypto, and decentralized autonomous organizations.
Web3 And Beyond
Truthfully, Web3 is relatively close to the original idea behind the internet. The original intent was to build a network for researchers to share information virtually. From there emerged Project Gutenberg, a global effort to make books and documents in the public domain available to everyone, via a world wide web that Berners-Lee envisioned. Then came email, domains, virtual communities such as the Whole Earth ‘Lectronic Link (The WELL), websites, Napster, Google, Wikipedia, then finally Web2 in 2004, when rich internet applications became prevalent.
Then began the era of Web2 we all grew to love, then become wary of.
This led to the development of Web3 - an internet that is closer to Tim Berners-Lee’s original vision. In the 1990s, he proposed that the internet should be decentralized, with no permissions required from a central authority to post on the web. There’s no kill switch, no central control and no censorship. He also advocated that the internet should avoid being coded and controlled by a small group of experts, but developed out in the open.
Now we have public blockchains, open-source software, governance, democratic voting, trustless ledgers and a platform where users around the world can organize themselves in an efficient way for the opportunity to work with like-minded people in a Web3 organization or DAO.
This way of collaborating, and in actuality, the concept of the DAO comes organically from this new state of the internet. It’s the human condition to find ways to organize ourselves into groups, tribes, collectives, squads, teams, companies, villages, or communities, in order to get things done. In fact, it’s much like guilds in the middle ages - pockets of individuals, looking out for the interests of the greater group like freelancers, for example.
Much like any journey, however, every bump along the way from a small series of interconnected computers, to the web as it exists today, was crucial to the development and evolution of Web3.
The Big Blockchain Bang
To most of us in this space, the development of the blockchain was like the Big Bang - the beginning of a new universe. According to Aragon, we’re poised on the cusp of a Cambrian explosion of activity - where Web2 and Web3 can co-exist and interact, and society is able to easily grasp how beneficial the blockchain, Web3, and NFTs can be. While the world wide web made the planet smaller, and Web2 made things constrictive and less private, Web3 will reset the internet back to what it was originally envisioned as - decentralized, trustless, permissionless, user-controlled, and democratic.
History tells us that nothing stops the forward march towards progress. We have better technology now that can serve to solve a lot of problems and connect like-minded people. Web3 is here to offer an alternative to Web2 that offers autonomy for the user, and the ability to interact with an interested community.
At present, it seems as if Webs 2 and 3 are at odds, but in reality, they need each other - they were built on the frameworks of their predecessor, and can work in harmony. We’re certain of that.
It’s time to build a truly global village and make it thrive.