Are we stepping into the wrong way of decentralization: Upgrade to WEB3 or downgrade to WEB1?

Nowdays people online are often talking about the Internet’s decentralization progress. However in most of the Internet edge users’ minds, decentralization is just the same as something like Blockchain, NFTs, crypto or anonymous currency and so on. They call this as WEB3, a future version of web (Or maybe even internet) that based upon independent and decentralized connections and platforms.

I. Why decentralize?

Most people who actually care the Internet’s future agree that a decentralized network is the future. And it used to be one, because when Internet was first presented, it is a decentralized computing infrastructure that designed for working in difficult situations, like air attack, bombs, and even nukes. But when the web keeps developing, it slowly turns into a centralized network, which looks more likely a Duplex TV Network instead of a Equal information exchange network. And the second one is what the decentralizationers’ are fighting for. These years, people are getting used to post their feelings and writings onto those centralized platforms, such as Twitter, Non-self-hosted blogs, and Youtube Channels.

The reason for agreeing the decentralization is simple: because the centralization make Internet both less stable and less free (free as freedom). When posting great deal of the information onto those centralized social networks and similar platforms, people should realize that once these platforms disappear, or their posts touch those power holder’s profit, these posts will simply “disappear” forever. This also means that Internet’s stability has dropped, caused by the wide use of the centralized platforms. If huge centralized platforms disappear, a huge amount of content will disappear, and a huge amount of users will not able to share their feelings through those platforms they were used to enjoy, to most of them who has learnt little about alternates of these platforms, basically this means they will never be able to find a similar one in a short period. Thinking about waking up in the sunny morning, but find you are unable to connect all the social networks that you are used to use. It will definitely be the worst morning in our lifetime. Even if at the moment, you are able to connect any IP addresses if you want, the Internet will still become a useless tool.

Someone might feel it is impossible for such a big platform to “vaporize” in only a few hours, perhaps they are right, but what about speech freedom? You know, on a centralized and real-name verified social network, if you say something “wrong”, your content will just disappear. You might laugh for the platform’s stupid detection, but think twice, it is really a horror. What about the truths? They may be hidden forever, but the cost is just to delete some related content. On centralized network, deleting things is a simple task like burning a piece of paper. Will you accept all your content be censored and deleted, without any cost, without any notice, and be treated like the burning’s left ash? Most of the people who believe the liberty is one of the humanity’s most important values will not simply agree that.

In the current situation, when we nearly come to the end of WEB2 era, some of the computer workers are trying their best to save the Internet from risking itself by centralization. The Internet Archive is one of their achievements. What it did is to make copies of as more pages in the web as it can. But this is still not the best choice, and the Internet Archive should only be an emergency data recovery backup for the Internet but not something we should depend. IA itself is still a centralized product, although it is running by non-profit organization and doesn’t seem like to delete user’s content easily, it has the same risk as the Internet itself could has. Also Internet Archive is an Archive instead of an alternate of social networks and blogging/vlogging platforms. We should thank the IA’s workers that aimed to fix and make the world remember the whole Internet, while we should also try to develop a better one.

And here the better one comes. That is called decentralization. It can solve both of the problems, the lack of stability and the lack of liberty in current networks. By using latest decentralized technology like block chain, NFTs, crypto currency and/or early technologies like independent blogs, self-hosted services and so on, people feel it possible to create a better web without limitations applied by those companies and platforms today. In the future web of decentralization, people are supposed to speak freely and equally, while the content they created will never be deleted easily.

Decentralized network can not only benefit social networks but also all parts of the society. With decentralization, people can enjoy a more stable Internet connection, because the data will be routed to server nearest, or even become peer-to-peer if everyone can own an IPv6 public IP address. With the speech freedom, people can almost fully express their wants and practice their citizens’ democracy rights, which can directly help build a more advanced society. To communism, decentralization is of the same importance as a revolution, it can challenge capitalists around the world, because it took away their tool of oppression the working class’s work. And there are still more benefits come from decentralization: It can help push the latest technologies to the public even much quicklier, it can help users to communicate with each other privately to avoid the leak of personal data, it can help make internet a more anonymous place, so there will never be personal data leaks (No providers, no leakers) etc.

In general, except those capitalists, big companies holders who was benefited from huge centralized platforms, everyone can expect a decentralized web.

II. Conflicts

But there are some bad news, not those capitalists are striking back to the decentralization, but there are conflicts between decentralization’s supporters.

Basically, supporters are divided into two types. Type one are people who think new technologies are the solution for decentralized web, while Type two are people who think old ones are still great. See the Italic font? That means the “new” and “old” doesn’t exactly represent where they are on the timeline.

The new techs, are made upon of blockchain, including NFTs, crypto currencies and IPFSs. Blockchains are popular all around the world early in 2010s, when Bitcoin came to the public’s sight. But what supposed to make a decentralized web, however, is Ethereum and IPFS. They are more open techs than Bitcoins, and more friendly to network itself. And ETH is a chain facing towards future that not limit itself by buying, mining and selling coins. For example, in IPFS network, it takes money to storage data, but that is only the “gas fee” instead of crypto currency transactions. NT’s supporters think it is important for the internet to transform into a new form that based upon blockchains but not nowdays’ servers and clients. Politically, NT’s supporters cover a large area of society, some of them are leftists, while others are rightists.

The old techs, differently, are made upon of the same technologies back into the times of early Internet. Still traditional HTTP, still traditional TCP, still traditional servers and clients’ relation ship. The only difference is: Huge platforms that collect as more personal information as it wants should be totally replaced and then removed from Internet. Just replaced by the new-coming self-hosted websites, blogs and so on. And take a close look at the websites and blogs that supported by OT supporters, it’s easy to find they are also in “ancient styles”. Simple design that almost use the browsers’ default style, highly compressed images, tiny page size and so on. People who look at them for first time may think, well, this website is terrible. “It looks as ugly as the one back in 1990s!” But think twice. Even if they are designed in old styles, and aimed to be compatible to early designed browsers like IE, it can still use the latest techs. Some of OT supporters are radical enough to fight against the “Always Online” misleading. They think it is not essential for a personal website to be always online, while it is a simply waste of power and materials. The supporters use old items in their home and their brilliant brains to build an eco-friendly server, that use solar energy to serve the pages. Even if it is not always online, it is a great step for both environment, and decentralization. Politically, OT supporters are mainly leftists or even simply communists.

Both of the two types think that it’s important to build a better decentralized web, while neither NTers nor OPers agree with each other’s opinion. NTers think it is time for Internet to step forward into the world of blockchain and other widely-known decentralized techs, while OPers support it will be better for Internet to just downgrade to WEB1, when lightweight independent personal blogs and websites took the lead of the Internet’s traffic.

III. My opinions

First of all, a decentralized web is necessary for tomorrow’s society, because this is something directly connected to the advancement of the society. New techs can’t save the world, that is most of the OTers said, and I agree with them in this sentence. New techs can’t save the world, but new techs do push the world forward, and even a little bit can help a lot. Blockchains are great, under the efforts of CS workers, they have also became easier to use. Blogging platforms like Xlog allow users to publish their writings to the chain, in just a few clicks. But in most of the conditions, I think blockchain is simply a waste of power. Think about it: When you publish a tweet, all the computers in the chain try it best to do a lot of calculations… It is low efficient in power use. And the tweet might just something completely useless like “I am too sleepy…” Do these things need to be kept on the Internet carefully till the end? I don’t think so. If the current lack of power around the world can’t be solved in near future, blockchain may become something useless, for nobody is willing to lose its valuable electric.

Blockchain is not something for everyone, that is the truth, unless we succeed in developing Nuclear Fusion Plant. NTs are not something that a primary school student can handle, but Tiktok is. But what about OTs, are they techs for everyone?

The answer is no. When using OT, it is often related to studying high-standard knowledge and building or buying servers. In fact, unlike blockchain supporters are trying their best to push a decentralized web3 to the public, and take the place of social networks, the OT supporters didn’t think anything about “normal” or “edge” Internet users. What they do is to make the Internet back into WEB1, make it not as actively as it is today. The “actively” here means, driven by the profit, companies keep pushing their content into Internet user’s head, and don’t leave any time for them two think deeply about the content presented. That’s definitely something matters, because when seeing things without thinking, brains may become less active, and it will be harder for those users to make their own thoughts. To themselves, this becomes another survival challenge in modern society. While to society, that will make less people speak in public, even if they are able to, the voice of people will be smaller, and can lead to society’s problems. OT’s Internet is not active, means the Internet doesn’t “invite” you to keep looking for information on it, but just like a pen on table. If you need one, it comes to your hand. If you don’t, it will lie on the table forever. An inactive Internet can make people see less but think more. Some scientific researches has shown when people are reading blog articles, especially the articles in OT styles, they are more easily to think and focus on the idea behind the text. Reading independent blogs is more likely to read newspapers, but these newspapers are not censored, but can tell the truth and provide liberty. Compared to blockchain, OT websites use traditional technologies that cost a little power. A 2W power supply is enough to run a simple website that handles thousands of requests a day. How to use power in a more efficient way is what humanity has been looking for over the years, and OT gives Internet an answer to the question.

I think, both OT and NT are not so “friendly” to the edge users of Internet. I have written an article in Chinese to discuss this (The Importance of Internet Edge Users). In summary, my opinion is it is important for Internet to give its latest technologies to its edge users in order to make their democracy and digital rights be realized, but what matters more is, to make Internet affect people’s daily life more in a offline way. This means decentralization is great, but it is not mean to make edge users to watch short videos on blockchain and waste a lot of power in entertaining to achieve the so-called “liberty”, not at all. Decentralization should be an almost invisible progress, people will feel like they are slowly getting offline, feeling themselves divorced from the busy and noisy Internet, but pay more attention to their real lives. They will spend more time with their friends, reading good books or independent blog / blockchain blog’s articles, in either NT style or OT style. While under the peace of Internet, people can use the power of liberty to push the society forward without the fear of their content being deleted or ignored. Getting offline here means to use Internet as a tool to express ourselves, but not a final place to lost ourselves in.

After all, I prefer the OT’s route of Internet. It saves money and power, and with the future development of cloud infrastructure, or the popularization of the IPv6 that can make ISP to provide endless public IPs, building websites by oneself is supposed to be easier. Now, even primary school student are able to build their own websites, so in future, it could be easy for elderly, for children, for adults, for everyone to make their websites in the way they want. At that moment, people will greet each other not by exchanging IM Account or Video Channels, but by exchanging their website’s domain. But NT’s route is also of great hope, even if I am a fan of independent website building, I spend some time in learning blockchain and made my blockchain blog a little popular.

I am now standing between the OT and the NT, with an independent blog and a blockchain blog in both of my hands. My body wants to go left to the OT, while my feet is not willing to leave NT. Perhaps the future web will not become the supposed WEB3. but a place people almost forgot.


The “Edge” users of the Internet: Represent children, elderly, and some adults without enough technical knowledge of Internet. They can only “use” the Internet or even hardly use in their daily lives, and find it hard to use Internet as a tool of valuable learning and voicing.

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