Internet: A journey, not a destination
There is paradoxical relationship between a journey and a destination. While you set out to achieve a particular set of goals, you think of the end point as a final destination. But looking at the core of this journey, we find a spirit of improvement as the main motivating factor. And this is what makes things interesting. There is no doubt that a journey is made up of small steps, and the destination is seen as the finish line. Things don’t end just then and there, the motivating factor, the spirit of improvement goes on. The sole reason being the independence of ideas from individuals.
The world of computers is quite an attractive example to be considered in this analogy. When the world saw the Abacus, many might have thought that the ultimate calculator is here. But soon came the Napier’s bones and Slide rule, which brought in new ideas of calculation. Just as the introduction of vacuum tubes started the journey of computers, only to be paced up by transistors, ICs and silicon chips.
The establishing of computers was just a destination in the whole journey, because soon the need for storage and collective work arose. The next step was to connect the computers, and the only way was to have networks. Setting up networks and defining protocols for them was major shift of gears in the automobile of computer science.
The late 1960s saw the first step being taken with the birth of ARPAnet by the US Department of Defense. It was undoubtedly the first brick in the internet infrastructure. The internet then came into being as a result of continuous research and entrepreneurial struggle. The main idea was to connect computers and allow data sharing. Hence, the first generation of internet i.e. web 1 was dependent solely on data delivery and communication.
The late 1990s and early 2000s witnessed a massive growth in the internet traffic, this brought in a lot of attention to the new technology. This new paradigm opened gates of the internet to the people, when social media was born. Vibrant online websites where people could come chat, make new friends, share their thoughts and post their pictures and videos, this made the internet an attractive place. But it brought a new variable into the equation i.e. data.
While the first generation of internet revolved around connectivity, the second generation catered to data. Search engines, social media outlets and professional workplaces, everyone jumped in on the trillions of Gigabytes of data, and the worst part is that the data is sold to interested third parties.
In defense of all these corporations, data has, no doubt, become a commodity in the web 2 framework. And it should be altered from the very same route it came from.
While there is a whole community of web 3 and numerous startups offering solutions on this breed of internet, there remain a ton of question marks on the applications of third gen internet. What we know so far is that the global network has now achieved the connectivity and data accumulation, it now directs itself towards decentralization.
Taking the servers out of the multinational corporations’ server rooms to your and our computers. This method of storage acts on as data (a simplified shorter form of it) is stored on every user’s device, after encryption. The decentralization shall allow the user to have control of their data, while the encryption ensures that the data is not accessed by other users.
There is also the idea of continuously updating the encryption algorithms, so that, even if someone gets hold of or cracks the encryption algorithm, this damaging effort becomes redundant very soon.
The interesting part is that web 1 didn’t have too much inertia and billions of dollars behind it, which made the shifting to web 2 easier and smoother. The second generation, however, has gathered a lot of power and dependency of programs, users and even countries. Web 3 might not come in as smoothly as its predecessor.
So, how do we come with terms and adopt this new tech without causing any damage? Will the corporations allow their capital to be diverted towards this new genre that might threaten their business?
The answer is simply that all three generations of internet shall co-exist. Adoption of web 3 is not like shutting down of a previous system and then a new entity taking its place. It’s about introducing a new way of dealing with computers, web and data. Just as web 1 and 2 existed together even when web 2 was on the rise, the third generation will co-exist with the two predecessors.
The internet will indeed be a safer place to be when connectivity, data usage and decentralization go hand-in-hand, and the power lies in the hands of the end user.
Written By: Humza Noor