Blockchains Alone Won’t Reinvent the Web


Blockchains Alone Won’t Reinvent the Web

March 26, 2024

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This piece originally appeared in City Journal.

The Internet is not what it was.

In the beginning, the web was structured as a collection of open, decentralized protocols. This era, roughly spanning from early 1990s to the early 2000s, was a time of rapid, permissionless innovation. Tech observers call it Web1.

Open protocols proved hard to commercialize, so Internet firms centralized in search of profits. The result is our current era, Web2. This iteration of the Internet has been dominated by a handful of very large platforms, giving users less independence. Most major platforms operate with “take it or leave it” terms of service that prevent meaningful consumer choice and leave disgruntled users to opt out and lose access to the digital economy.

Since the dawn of Web2, five or six companies have become the Internet’s gatekeepers. While regulators such as the Federal Trade Commission Chair, Lina Kahn, want to use public policy to break their stranglehold, a cadre of technologists and activists believe that software could accomplish this goal, propelling the Internet into Web3.

Continue reading in City Journal.

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