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Web3 is a stupid idea (timdaub.github.io)
189 points by gozmike 84 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 205 comments



A large chunk of my internet experience lately has been on web3, and the experience is _wonderful_ despite it's immaturity.

It's incredible to be able to go to different websites (Zapper, Zerion, OpenSea, etc.) and simply have all my data already exist -- without needing to create an account, export/import.

web3 makes me believe in a new era of the internet that isn't full of ads, cookie consent forms, dozens of sign-in services, tracking, etc.

An anonymous version of myself and my data exists everywhere. It's really a hackers dream.


I signed up and paid for an analytics tool subscription by simply clicking “connect with metamask”. Another two clicks to send the payment and I was done.

No email accounts, no sign up forms, no credit card info, nothing.

I’m a lifelong convert to this tech now. I can’t ever imagine going back to sign up forms or sharing my personal data.

I can’t see how anyone who cares about their privacy isn’t hyper bullish about this.


Yeah. I started really digging in earlier this year and what I realized was that web3 offers true ownership over the important parts of your online identity.

For the average user, it’s not exceptionally helpful yet, but for power users like celebrities, politicians and executives, it is extremely valuable.

Where they go everyone else will go. Web3 has a massive future


Why would these types of people want all their data available on a public chain?


They want their public data public, but owned. It won’t be ‘on chain’ it will be off chain but the ownership token will be ‘on chain’.

As an example, they may have their public photos in IPFS, served from their server (or shared pointers), but will have ownership rights of those photos on chain.

That is different than Instagram where Facebook owns the images.

They cannot be deplatformed which is valuable. The question is whether it’s value exceeds the value of Instagram distribution.


Celebrities wouldn't care who owns the photos, all that matters is whether exposure leads to jobs.

The photos are valuable only to the photographer, who has the right to license it to Getty and others.


Keep in mind that you can have a "public" (doxxed) address that you use for certain activities, as well as other addresses that you use for other private activities. It can be tricky to "break the chain" between addresses if you send/receive between them, but it's entirely possible.


Celebrities, politicians, and executives and the farthest thing from a power user as is possible in this universe.

Did you mean people with a lot at stake in regards to their public image?


Power users in terms of social media


These people rarely, if ever, manage their own profiles. Not sure how something like Web3 would help their use case. Thoughts?


Yes - completely agree. it is refreshing to go to a website, hit connect, and boom there is all my data! I think we are only brushing the surface of what is possible with web3. Cant wait for login support to sign up for social media sites.


I do hope existing websites eventually support web3 login, but eventually there will be a web3-native/decentralized social network that actually succeeds. there have been a few attempts over the years but nothing has gained much traction.

https://www.theverge.com/2021/8/16/22627435/twitter-bluesky-...


do you mean the hackers dream of how easy it is to, uh, hack unsuspecting users? because thats basically what the article points out that web3 basically is shadowed by non transparent and opaque processes and if it wants to do anything of value it needs to drop the hackers dream, cause thats not how the web gerew up.


anonymous and my data in the same sentence ? No thanks.


Pardon my ignorance. Couldn’t those websites use other data (IP/geo) with your wallet address to figure out who you are?


Nearly all are open source and tracking free.

I hope it remains that way.

Some do of course throw unnecessary signup pages before allowing you to connect your wallet. I immediately close the tab if I see that. They are the minority.

It's the web, obviously there aren't firm rules. The point is that most of the builders in the space are hackers that want a free and open web void of that nonsense.

And most of the protocols/services are profitable, so the builders have no incentive to track users or sell data.

If "web2" companies start moving into the space, I'm sure they will track and sell data like they do now. The goal is to create free and open alternatives of those products so you aren't forced to endure those tactics.

But with web3 + a VPN or Private Relay, you can probably do a fairly good job staying mostly anon.


> Nearly all are open source and tracking free.

Just checked OpenSea - Google Analytics, Amplitude, DoubleClick, Cloudflare insights, plus error tracking from Sentry.

Zapper has Google Analytics and Amplitude. Click through to 'connect wallet' and you're now sending data to DoubleClick

Zerion has Google Analytics, plus Plausible Analytics for good measure. Then when you click through to "connect wallet", you get some bonus trackers: Cloudflare Insights, Amplitude of course, you get Rollbar for error tracking (which can leak data if misconfigured). There's also Intercom on the page, which collects a little bit of analytics while it's doing its thing.

---

Diving in a little bit more:

- I can confirm that Zerion sends your wallet address to Amplitude, Sentry, and Plausible Analytics. It also sends the current value of your wallet to Amplitude, when you hit "Buy crypto" or "Send"


That's very important information (and disgusting)


Huh, a crypto thread on HN that's not 95% sour grapes? Well, color me surprised. Did a larger part of the usual HN crowd manage to get in at the start of the bull run this time?


Not really, the comment is describing an actual use case and unique value proposition of cryptocurrency, rather than talking about market price.


Yeah, it was about the thread in general. Apologies.


I'm also happily surprised about the nice discussions on this branch of the discussion!


It's much easier to criticize than to build an alternative. I don't think anyone at Metamask or in the space in general thinks to themselves that the ecosystem is in a state of full maturity or that there aren't major problems. Despite its shortcomings, MM and Web3 have given us capabilities that simply didn't exist five years ago. And those capabilities aren't just limited to a select number of shadowy super hackers. MM has millions of MAU and that number will only grow as more people see the potential of the tech.


People are building things like renewed web standards (Project Fugu, for example) and P2P networks (Beaker, Hypercore), and light clients (Mighty). These projects don't get any attention from the "Web3" crowd because they don't involve currency speculation.


Why exclude IPFS? That is near and dear to the web3/cryptocurrency space, but can also be leveraged without participating in currency speculation at all.


Because IPFS does get attention from the web3 crowd, it's even used in MetaMask and the comment you're replying to is commenting about projects that don't get attention from the web3 crowd.


IMO GP's comment had a narrative that newer projects that are pushing forward renewed web standards are getting completely ignored by "Web3", however one of the bigger projects is heavily embraced


You cannot separate economics incentives from networking protocols.

You need an actual sepeculative market to price and offer these services.

Most of open source fails because they don't acknowledge this reality.


That is an extraordinary claim. Network protocols and currencies went some 60 years being unrelated to each other and I see no reason to think they won't continue right along that way after this current set of grifters finds a new set of marks


I've heard it argued that a huge flaw of the big protocols like HTTP is that they chose to be entirely unopinionated about payments. Apparently standards bodies did discuss standards for microtransactions, for example W3C's abandoned efforts: https://www.w3.org/ECommerce/Micropayments/


When HTTP was first developed there was literally no available mechanism for micro-transactions. If HTTP had been opinionated about micro-transactions it would have been stuck with Beenz [0] or Flooz [1].

Personally I don't want an application layer protocol, especially a global standard, to be opinionated about payment methods.

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beenz.com

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flooz.com


Being opinionated about payments is not the same thing as building a speculative digital currency into your protocol.


> Network protocols and currencies went some 60 years being unrelated to each other and I see no reason to think they won't continue right along that way after this current set of grifters finds a new set of marks.

The speculation was being done on wall street in form startups like Juniper, Cisco stock. The 'Token' of that time is the stock.


> ” Most of open source fails because they don't acknowledge this reality.”

That’s a bold statement. Most of projects that do acknowledge this reality also fail. Like all for-profit and even those web3 projects that are using cryptocurrency speculation. So I think there are tons of reasons that open source projects fail, not just because of this reason.


What about bittorrent?


Bittorrent is fantastic for 'altruistic' activity.

But it is useless if you want to build a for profit Netflix. You may have to look at something like IPFS that accounts for economic incentives I the protocol.


BitTorrent was used for the blizzard updater as well as internal tech for moving around files needed on many machines at various companies.

But none of that matters because it was created and was/is well used


I'm having trouble finding mighty on ddg, got a link?


Can you tell me an example of what simply didn't exist five years ago and now exists bc of Web3? And the potential of the tech? Because i used to work in an agency and we develop apps and smart contracts for Ethereum and what they were doing were the most basic and primitive things, slow, fragile, incapable and very expensive to use. Not to mention all the environmental problems with PoW. Only reason we were developing them was that there were loads of money from all the hype around it. The actual usefulness was zero.


Just today I paid for access to a data tool, icy.tools. I simply connected my Metamask wallet, clicked on “Unlock premium”, confirmed the transaction, and it was done.

Normally, I’d have to make an account (and doge the obligatory “sign up with Google” button), fill a form, enter my credit card info, confirm my otp on the payment site, check my email for an authentication link before using the product.

Along the way, I would have to share my data with multiple third parties - the SaaS tool, my email provider, my credit card company, etc.

With this web3 approach, I don’t have to share this data with anyone. I don’t have to fill out forms. In fact, if I got my Ethereum from a P2P source, I can be completely anonymous.

At this point in the internet, if you can avoid giving Google et al your data, its an absolute win.


So wait, you were finally able to.... pay for something online? That's possible for how long now? 30 years?

You compared process of one specific app with process of some other app. Yes, some apps are harder to register for, some are easier. Some want more info about you, some less. That again is nothing new. I can create app like icy.tools without collecting any usual personal info with normal web technologies also. No need for blockchain. I can also setup some payment method which doesn't collect that much personal info. So that also really isn't novel.

Regarding the anonymity - you always leave some trace. Even with blockchain. Yes, you can mix something but if someone really wants to get to you with enough effort he will.

And this traceability will only increase. Now it's like this because these services aren't regulated anyhow. Normal companies and payment options are heavily regulated and that's why they demand more info from you. Because they have to if they want to make business legally. And if i don't care about making business legaly, i can do it now also and i don't need to collect anything. So that again isn't anything novel.


There is simply no way to make payments without bypassing banks. If you think banks are great and have never ever been involved in anything bad, go ahead and keep on doing you.

If you think they’re not, come join us this side.

You: give your data to big corps, make no money. I: keep my data, also make wild money as an early adopter.

I see this as an easy decision


Is this substantially different from a website with a PayPal button? That's 2-3 clicks, max.

The only difference seems to be that with PP I pay with real money, and Web3 is with cryptocurrencies only.


What if I don't want to share my email, phone number, bank account, and credit card data with PayPal?

Its really disturbing to me that privacy and data rights get absolutely zero consideration even on HN.


I can buy pre-paid debit card from convenience store, that can be used for PayPal with an one-off email.

In traditional world, it's not hard to pay. But hard to receive.

With cryptocurrency, it's still not easy to convert to/from transitional money. Unless you can stay within the cryptocurrency for the whole cycle.


Ok, but a ton of people (like me) don't give a shit about privacy. What's the advantage for us?

(I think there are huge advantages, like ownership, but just saying "if you don't care about privacy you are wrong" isn't going to convince anyone)


No one is forcing you to use it in that case. You can continue giving away your privacy to big corporations.

Meanwhile I'll not only keep my privacy but also make wild, wild money speculating on crypto assets. Win-win by all accounts.


I can play a game (DarkForest) and sell items to other players in exchange for real money (xDAI) without trusting dodgy websites.


I used to Play EVE online and selling game stuff and even characters for $ was pretty common 15 years ago.

And what do you mean trusting dodgy website? You always have to trust somebody or something. I had to trust some rando while buying EVE character back then. Today you still have to trust Metamask, the game developers, the smart contracts behind the trades(or however it works). And not only in a way that they don't want to screw you but also that they didn't make any security mistake and it's not possible to hack the whole thing(which is common right). So what's novel about that?


How do I get started in using all this fancy web3 magic?


Install this browser plugin and start exploring: https://metamask.io/


To be fair, in the article I at least outline alternative approaches. And in any case, I believe that by building a commercial product like MM, their makers unwillingly shut the door a bit more for a more standardized approach. Not actively, but simply just by mere existence.


They didn't shut the door on anyone.

Things progress in many ways, and that is really important. Diversity of ideas and implementations of ideas spark real advances in unpredictable ways. What matters is that new things are being imagined, built and experience with them is being gained.


Tim, thank you for commenting on your article! I'm curious about your reasoning here: would you mind walking us through how you come to the conclusion that building a product like MetaMask, closes the door for a more standardized approach?


Sure.

The fact that MM is part of a larger conglomerate of apps from Consensys and since recently they turned the monetization dial heavily, I think that with Metamask Swaps they won't have an intrinsic motivation to standardize their user moat away. They'd lose a huge chunk of revenue from competing browsers. And additionally, MM has restricted their license already to stop Brave from using their IP.


The criticism of this ecosystem is just absolutely short sighted.

When I first got internet, it was 56 kbps, a single page took minutes to load, and it was so expensive that I couldn’t stay online for more than 30 minutes per day.

It took 5 years for my town to get “broadband” at 256kbps, and another 5 years to get 2mbps.

Maybe I should have given up on the internet back in 1996 to…


I first had home Internet in 1997, and even then its value was immediately obvious.

- Email

- Chatrooms

- Maps and directions

- Newspapers from around the world, free (even WSJ didn't put up a paywall until 2005).

- IT troubleshooting information that didn't require calling the surly clowns at your local computer shop.

Does Web3 have something like that that makes it a must-have?


Web3 gives me immediate access to a global, always-on, completely decentralized market with absolutely no gatekeepers.

Money has always had gatekeepers. Sure, Stripe et al have made the barriers to entry lower, but they've only replaced legacy gatekeepers with newer ones. For the longest time, I couldn't even accept payments easily from US customers on my eCommerce site because Stripe wasn't available in my home country (and I'd seriously considered incorporating via Stripe Atlas just to get access to Stripe).

Crypto has no gatekeepers. There's no one I need to ask permission from to accept crypto from anyone, anywhere.

From my perspective, I can't understand why someone would not be bullish on crypto. It opens up a sector that impacts all of our lives - finance - but one we've strangely collectively decided to give up control over.

If you like the idea of an open and inclusive financial market, you'd be bullish on crypto. If you don't, you can safely ignore it and carry on with your life.


So if I understand correctly, the benefits of Web 3 are largely payment related.

It still doesn't sound like something the general public would adopt. You have to learn a whole new way of doing things, in order to get paid in a currency that has no use outside of asset speculation.


> So if I understand correctly, the benefits of Web 3 are largely payment related

And payment/finance/money is arguably the most important industry in any capital-oriented society and has a deep impact on the way people live. And for the vast majority of people, existing systems don’t work

How many people tell you that they love their bank or their credit card company?

We tend to build better versions of everything that’s disliked enough but somehow, we’ve decided that our banks and lenders will always be awful and corrupt and we should be okay with it.

Sure, you can make a better app for your bank, but the core will still be that same opaque black box.


I was around for web 2.0, and it felt like a substantial change over how the web worked previously. It was the first glimpse that the web was capable of replacing the desktop apps we were accustomed to, while simultaneously adding new capabilities that didn't exist in desktop apps. There was a lot more to it, but to the casual user that was the most obvious difference.

This was the first thing I've read about web 3, so I didn't need to grep my brain to find and remove any existing notions about it. As someone coming in late to the party, I agree that installing a browser extension seems like a deal breaker. Web 2.0 was about getting rid of browser extensions. It also sounds like web3 is missing a killer app. For web 2.0, Gmail and Google Maps and YouTube were all immediately useful to all web users. Web 3 doesn't sound all that compelling to a lay person.


That's because "Web 3" is more of a marketing term, whereas "Web 2.0" was a descriptive term coined for something that had already emerged in the preceding years from countless independent implementations, evolving together.

When "Web 2.0" was named, most of the techniques had been used for over a decade, and social networking side of it was well established too. Even "AJAX" was coined years after some sites were already using that technique, without that name.

Web 3 is an attempt to portray p2p, cryptocurrency, IPFS and similar types of networks as on an equal footing to the evolutionary changes that vaguely made up Web 2.0.

In particular, the name implies it's "the" (singular) next version of the Web after 2.0.

But it's too early to be sure of that. Most people aren't using it, most sites aren't using it either and don't plan to. The real successor to Web 2.0 that things evolve to en masse might be quite different than Web 3 proponents are describing at the moment.


metamask has 10MM monthly active users, opensea at half the volume of ebay last month...

anecdotally, people seem to be moving to wallet connect smartphone wallets (eg rainbow) recently as they are nicer than browser extensions + you can use mobile websites/apps with them. Metamask is a bit of a mess tbh.

I've been in the space for a few years now so i find it really hard imagining a non-cryptocurrency/web3 internet at this point. It's such a big part of my use of the internet at this point. Hanging out in various dao chats in discord from chess clubs to running gallery spaces, voting in snapshot is a daily activity. Its basically like being in wow guilds, but with a completely open-ended design space to play in.

Im not sure what people will be satisfied with as a killer app? what is the measure of success? it feels like its already here and successful to me. After a dull period of the internet feeling like it was disappearing under FAANG it feels alive and chaotic and fun again.


What physical products, if any have you purchased with crypto?

I'm not doubting your touting of Web3, it's just....your description just sounds like you found a community of like minded people online. Those things have come and gone on the clear web many times. It's not something that's unique to Web 3.


This is the problem here. What kind of lay people care about this at all? I'm having a hard time being convinced myself, and I could not imagine trying to get 90% of the population remotely excited about this. There's nothing new for them, like you said, no killer app.


The age of worrying about the browser extension hurdle was in 2017. That ship has sailed. Enough people use it that you can launch any viable web 3.0 enabled business with it now for recurring revenues. Also, that user experience has improved such that browser extensions are not necessary. Many people use their mobile phone wallets to authentic mobile and desktop websites.

There is also substantial room for greater improvement. This actually might be a place to focus your energy and you actually might find it fulfilling.

> It also sounds like web3 is missing a killer app.

Sounds unfalsifiable as its not clear what standard there will be if you and your lay grandma aren't both interested in it. From my perspective there are many killer apps which I'm not interested in. Check out any list of "gas guzzlers" to see what people are paying to use any given day. I'm not sure how to gauge the free-er activity on layer 2 systems. But don't forget about other chains. Its a lot of activity.


It's kind of amusing to see them attempting to use Web 3 / 3.0. Web 3.0 was supposed to be the semantic Web, more than a decade ago [1] (an attempt which generally failed to be realized, and was silly vague regardless). I suppose enough time passed that someone decided the term could be repurposed since the last attempt to match the term to a new technology inflection point didn't come to much.

[1] https://www.computer.org/csdl/magazine/co/2009/01/mco2009010...


A lot of activity... from a birds eye view, there is always a lot of activity in the swamp below. Paraphrasing an ancient.


I think it's poorly named. It's not a new major version of the web. Forget the fact that the vast majority of the web's users don't care about decentralization vs. centralization even a single bit. People will continue to mindlessly use WhatsApp, Instagram, TikTok, Twitter, and Coinbase because decentralization is not a concern for _most_ users. Most users of these apps just want to socialize with friends and family, show off / humble brag / argue, and gamble.


> Forget the fact that the vast majority of the web's users don't care about decentralization vs. centralization even a single bit. People will continue to mindlessly use WhatsApp, Instagram, TikTok, Twitter, and Coinbase because decentralization is not a concern for _most_ users.

I think you're doing a real disservice by characterizing this as “mindless”. For most people, decentralization is an anti-feature — it adds cost, risk, and performance issues while usually making the UX worse. The web has become more centralized over time because that allows people to build more compelling services, and much as that is disappointing from the perspective of the dreams many of us had in the 90s it's hard to argue that, say, a primary driver of the re-centralization of email wasn't the difficulty of controlling spam in a decentralized system.

This intersects well with the blockchain advocacy: this post mentions a lot of terms which the VCs like to hear but there's a conspicuous absence of anything which normal users care about. There can be an argument for robustness in the case of an outage for a shared service but that's very far from a given and could only be measured by comparing specific examples since no two systems have the same failure mode.


I’m so glad the entire decentralized community has rallied around the limitless power and innovation of NFTs.


Please make an NFT of your comment for sale on opensea... I suggest "Bored hackernews comment club"


Christie's and Sotheby's will be on red alert when this drops.


I'd buy an officialchicken fungible whatyamathingy!


When it comes to tech, you can't judge what's important by people who use tech but don't spend three seconds in a day working on its possibilities.

Surprisingly few regular people thought they wanted a PC before the World Wide Web. They still don't care about the technical details.

Web 3.0 is obviously an aspirational name for what is still mostly a vision at this point. But developers need their moitivators. :)


The difference here though is that web 3 really is just 'technical details' to most people. PC's had potential, they were getting cheaper, faster, and more software was being written for them every day. People could play video games, and show off to their friends. Web 3 has none of that, it's all just technical details that 90% of the population doesn't care about one bit.


Web3 is money! The web2.0 it is impossible to make transactions between people, sites, and others.

It's easier to put an ad than to ask the visitor for money. Imagine the possibility of creating feedback with automatic micro-payments!


That may not be the selling point you think it is, since most people are not creators looking to monetize their content. Your statement then sounds like: "Envision web3: your opportunity to pay to visit any website!"


Most people are sick of ads and would happily pay 1/10 a cent to read a quality article, especially if the process was frictionless.

And most creators would love to keep their content open for everyone, but not have icky ads cluttering up their content.

I think you are underestimating how much micropayments will iron out a lot of problems for a lot of people.

Host your own scrapbook page (er, Facebook) for penny's without ads, tracking, manipulative promotion of content... People lose sight of the fact that Facebooks massive server farms are not really there to serve little posts, but to track and make predictions about people.

Those are just two ways

Another is people learning to support many causes they believe in with very small regular donations. I would voluntarily pay 1/10 cent for every wikipedia page I looked at, or 10 cents a week. Doesn't seem like much but that's $5.20 a year painlessly given.

Enough people do that and they could stop their annual funding drive.

They would also have just got an even clearer incentive to up the quality and usefulness of what they do. Greater efforts resulting in greater donations directly.


> Most people are sick of ads and would happily pay 1/10 a cent to read a quality article, especially if the process was frictionless.

I don't know that an article is quality until I am done reading it. I already paid for my ISP, my electricity, and my computer equipment. I'm spending my finite amount of time reading it. Why would I pay extra for the privilege? Unless I will materially gain from reading it, i.e. "here's a discount code for your next month's ISP bill", I'm just gambling 1/10th of a cent that I might get some sort of emotional contentment reading an article.

Even if the content of the article is good, what if the presentation sucks making it physically difficult to read. For my 1/10th of a cent am I getting an easily accessible form of the content? If I want to read the content again will I have to pay another 1/10th of a cent? If my 1/10th of a cent for a single page view or a full read of the content, if the host breaks up an article over multiple pages am I paying for each one? Can I freely download and use the content within the bounds of Fair Use? What are the full terms of my transaction?

While you're trying to make the case for some trivial amount of money, if everyone is asking for a trivial amount of money then in aggregate it's no longer a trivial amount for users. If I can't get a refund if an article sucks then I am not interested. If a website has to potentially give refunds to users then they won't be interested.

Even with micro-transaction payments websites have the same perverse incentives to get traffic as ones that run advertisements. The more traffic they get the more money they make. Content producers will also eventually require some sort of onerous DRM to make sure that every single view of some bit of content is paid for with a micro-transaction.


This will fail for the same reason other attempts at stimulating micropayments has.

People are used to accessing text and video on the web for free. You and I may have a paid subscription to a Patreon or newspaper, but in both cases we are not paying piecemeal.


Micropayments need to be frictionless. If a 1 cent payment requires more than 1 cent of a persons time, it is not a workable system.

Many people would love to auto pay 1 or 2 cents a page view, to no longer see ads.

It might take a while, but I think eventually most people not in financial hardship will be happy to do that. (And people in financial hardship are not the best people to put ads in front of.)


I tried micropayments three years ago but transaction fees of up to a dollar forbade 1 cent payments. Is this solved now somehow?


Yes, the Premiuum Network (available in over 40 languages) enables 0.01 - 0.99 transactions @ 10% transaction fee:

https://Premiuum.net

Send us an email: support@Premiuum.net

Tell us about your specific use case, and we'll be happy to get you sorted.

Cheers.


Flattr didn't fail because it wasn't blockchain. And paypal is still seen as a boon by most consumers in a hurry.


People who used PCs for software and games were in a minority.

It is hard to remember, but the WWW was the killer PC app for a huge majority that didn't jump on Visicalc, adventure games or other pre-web fare.


I like to chat with other devs as we work out problems on community code bases. Web 1 would suffice since much talk is still in irc. But we would miss stuff like git/obs...


Yeah, I also think it's poorly named. It's semantically speaking not a major upgrade. But additionally, I'd prefer web 2.1 over web 3.0 first...


It was only this year that I actually got excited about Ethereum specifically because of what "web3" enables.

Yes it's a dumb name, and this article certainly doesn't cover all of the issues, shit just look at the confirmation page for metamask, it literally just asks you if you want to spend X to submit a byte array. No link to the contract, the method you are calling, any avaliable adudits etc.

But if you as a reader have any passing interest I'd really encourage you to check out what's happening in the space, the thing that got me excited was the permissionlessness and composability.

Going to uniswap, locking up some funds in an AMM and then depositing that elsewhere to liquidity farm shows off the composability, then the fact that you can see it all tracked on a dashboard like zapper.fi or debank.com really drives the point home.

Word of warning, Ethereum it's self is now so clogged up with NFTs and people constantly arbitraging or performing liqudiations that it's far too expensive to play around with. There is plenty of cheaper EVM based chains though, like Fantom or Polygon


Your last phrase is really what gets me. Why should any web delivery platform get "clogged up" by content? If this becomes popular, then it just gets slower and more painful to use in ways that aren't fixed by adding more infrastructure?

Also, what is the value add that can be explained to someone who just wants to use the web and leaving the jargon like permisionlessness and composability aside? What reason would anyone have to start using this as a consumer?


Long term ethereum is looking at adding more 'infrastructure' but it's early stages, the current paradigm is to move transactions to "roll-ups" that inherent their security from the mainchain. Rollups are expected to increase throughput ~100-1000x (so optimistically getting back to ~1 cent per tx)

All of this is early enough that it's all currently exposed to the user. The fact of the matter is that cryptocurrency is still quite technical and under heavy development (well bitcoin isn't, but you can only do one thing with it). Hopefully as these technical solutions are rolled out wallet software will start abstracting across them so the user doesn't need to worry about whether they are transacting on a roll-up.

The current state is really not ready for general adoption. It's easy to lose all of your funds to some sort of hack or rug-pull, if you lose your keys you've lost your funds, it's hard to determine what is trust worthy, tax day is a nightmare etc.

I participate because I find it fascinating and can stomach the technical complexity and risks


It reminds me of 90s internet: First, there was the web. Then we got images slowly downloading at 56kbps. Then we got MODs and Midi , and suddenly we had MP3s clogging the existing 56kbps infrastructure. Until we started getting ISDN and broadband: 128k , 256k ! And we got RealVideo ... which kept 'buffering' and clogging the infrastructure. Later we got mp4, bittorrent and whatnot. This absolutely clogged our low speed broadband. Nowadays we've got CDNs, gigabyte size game updates, ultra hi def netflix a d 500 Mbps connections.

I'm so excited to see that we are in the VERY early stages of blockchain value networks, and I hope I live the next 20 years to see this technology when it gets to the "500mbps" equivalent of what we've got now for 'the internet'


> Then we got MODs and Midi , and suddenly we had MP3s clogging the existing 56kbps infrastructure.

This is just wrong and not in any way analogous to some blockchain network getting clogged up.

Your first problem is you've got your causation backwards. Fast dial-up facilitated access to larger media files. People didn't get 56k modems to download MP3s, they downloaded MP3s because they had 56k modems. Even then MP3s (and other media) were commonly 64k and 96k rips because people had limited bandwidth and storage space. You'd only find 128k MP3s and the like on specialty F-serves and FTPs.

Your second problem is RealMedia content was very specifically tuned to work over dial-up connections. RealVideo's buffering problems were very often last-mile bandwidth and latency issues. Even great 56k dial-up had quarter second RTTs, single digit percentage packet loss, and topped out at ~45kbps actual payload throughput. RealMedia servers (and the file and stream formats) explicitly supported multiple streams based on your available bandwidth. That's why RealPlayer had a dropdown asking what type of Internet connection you had, a single RM file or stream endpoint could actually serve multiple streams at different bitrates just like today's HTTP streaming. While a single RealMedia server might be congested if it had tons of clients the backbone networks had plenty of bandwidth and were typically not "clogged up" from RealMedia servers.

Lastly, the problem with Ethereum and other blockchains is their backbones are clogged up with speculative transactions. They're not scaling to meet current demands for transactions and only maybe possibly will scale in the future to handle future amounts of transactions. The Ethereum case is in fact the clogged backbone you were trying to ascribe to the Internet of the past.


Ethereum is getting clogged up because too many people are trading cryptokittes.

That is not the same as downloading an MP3 over dial-up. My download activity is only slowing down my own connection, not those of others.


> My download activity is only slowing down my own connection, not those of others.

That's only true because there's spare capacity at the juncture above whatever bottleneck you are hitting.


Some valid arguments, but in reality web3 is just the web where the backend is something on the blockchain. It makes sense to talk about how to make this experience more secure, but to say the whole thing is a stupid idea doesn't benefit anyone, because a lot of people want it and are going to use it. By the way, most web wallets have hardware support, so you can add an additional layer of security that way.


> web3 is just the web where the backend is something on the blockchain

even more broad, i think web3 is just where the database is decentralized. blockchain is one solution.


Sure; I would describe the technical requirement for something to be "web3" as:

• data storage and/or backend computation taking place in/on a decentralized / distributed-locus-of-control system,

• where these systems are exposed directly to browsers via regular-web HTTP gateways,

• and where there are well-defined general APIs (these being the "web3" APIs) such that these gateways are interchangeable in the access they provide;

• where a web app can choose to have a relationship (e.g. a paying customer relationship) with their own gateway provider, rather than having one forced upon them;

• and where the user-agent can further enable the user to have their own relationship with different gateway provider, overriding the website's choice of gateway, in a way invisible to the web app. (Just like how UA stylesheets override site stylesheets, in ways invisible to the web app.)

The gateways are a necessary part of the definition, because HTTP is fundamentally a protocol for talking to specific servers, so Web -three, then, is 90% about the particular way in which we hitch decentralized stuff up to that centralized model.

The fact that the website and the user get choice in their gateway, is what makes this a decentralized system, rather than being something like X.509 that's nominally decentralized (anyone can be their own CA root authority for their own DAG-of-trust) but where in practice there's only one public DAG-of-trust forced on everyone by a consortium of browser and OS manufacturers.


And this is the 'technical requirement' that solves what problem, that people actually need solved?


Before I answer: why are you asking this in response to the definition of a piece of technical jargon? What makes something "web3", and whether anyone should care about "web3", are separate questions.

Nevertheless, the answer is: because web standards don't allow browsers and other only-speaks-HTTP clients, to interact with regular peer-to-peer protocols, preventing them from participating in [the existing networks serving] peer-to-peer use-cases. You can't write a blockchain node as Javascript that executes in a browser and have it talk to the same network peers that other native nodes for that chain interact with.

Instead, if users want to participate in such use-cases (e.g. to download a torrent on a Chromebook), they must use technologies like WebTorrent, that stand up their own, incompatible p2p networks based on WebRTC and other web-specific carrier protocols. This creates isolated "web p2p" networks (e.g. the WebTorrent swarm) divorced from their regular-p2p equivalents (e.g. the BitTorrent swarm.)

Web3 is one way of avoiding this network split: it is a [nascent] set of standard APIs, allowing browsers and other only-speaks-HTTP clients to interact with p2p protocols by holding relationships with "p2p protocol 'light client' over HTTP" gateways, that expose the p2p protocols in standard useful-over-HTTP manners to browsers.

Another way of avoiding such a network split, instead of web3, would be creating lower-level gateways that allow browsers and other only-speaks-HTTP clients to directly tunnel p2p wire protocols over HTTP, where the gateway would terminate the HTTP tunnel and then route the p2p packets to peers as normal.

However, most p2p protocols are a really bad fit for having all communications linearized into a TCP stream. Peers connected through such gateways would be really badly-behaved peers from the perspective of the network.

Web3 "solves" this by not having the browser speak the p2p protocol itself, but instead having the gateway speak the p2p protocol and act as the finite-state-machine keeping the p2p state, while the browser just gets to interact with the state model that the gateway node builds up through its p2p interactions, via either RPC request-response flows, or event streaming flows, both of which are much better behaved over an HTTP carrier than p2p traffic generally is.


Seems to me that Web3 is focused on Etherium, which is definitely a specific kind of 'P2P' if you want to use that term.

That 'broad generalized use-case' you articulated isn't really a 'use case'. It's not really a problem that needs solving.

And of course a browser plugin solves can get around those problems.

The issue is that this entire stack of technology doesn't do anything that people really need or want. Etherium is popular among Etherium enthusiasts and a few speculators for interests sake, not for for the sake of any actual 'use cases'.


Most substrate technologies are not, on their own, "problems that need solving." What real-world problem does TCP solve? WebRTC? ICMP? Nothing, without application-layer protocols on top of them.

These low-level protocols are essentially frameworks for building solutions, solutions that take a standard shape specified by the low-level protocol, and thus allow for standardization in libraries and tooling.

Web3 is a substrate standard, a specification for how browsers should frame RPC and event-streaming requests to "p2p 'light client' HTTP gateways". It's not an application-layer protocol.

Ethereum's RPC protocol is an example of a Web3 protocol, just e.g. SMTP is an example of a TCP protocol.

Web3 is a nascent concept, in that it doesn't really have other things built on top of it yet. Its implementation is a de-facto outgrowth of what people did when building the Ethereum protocol. But the concept of "a Web3 protocol" isn't definitionally tied in any way to the Ethereum RPC protocol, any more than TCP is tied to whichever application-layer protocols it co-evolved with. (TELNET was a major one, I believe.)

Web3 can be a useful framework even if the only thing people have built on it so far (Ethereum) isn't useful. (I won't claim one way or the other whether Ethereum is useful; I'm just pointing out that believing one way or the other about Ethereum being useful is irrelevant to whether Web3 as a low-level protocol is a useful tool for building protocols.)

> And of course a browser plugin solves can get around those problems.

Browser plugins do not practically exist any more. The era where you could ship an experience requiring users to install a plugin like Flash, and actually get adoption, is gone. Now a majority of browser installations in the world are inviolate apps running on a phone or tablet or Chromebook (or desktop PC with an App Store and code signing), where the device doesn't allow the user to embed other native code to run in the context of the browser. Only weak extension APIs are supported, and these intentionally do not expose features like speaking arbitrary L4/5 wire protocols.

The problems browsers have, can now really only be solved either by browser manufacturers themselves (as in e.g. the browser U2F API), or by operating entirely "above" the browser by using HTTP to communicate with gateways that do what the browser cannot.


this is well put, thanks


So it is tcp/ip, then and not web at all. Way, man, way. I'll stick to udp abuse, thanks.


And many people install adblockerz. Soon they will install blockchain blockers?


Web3 involves decentralized:

1. consensus networks, 2. data storage networks, 3. messaging networks.

(1) includes Ethereum and other blockchain and distributed ledger tech.

(2) includes IPFS, FileCoin, GUN, etc.

If you're storing data on the blockchain apart from the bits needed in relation to consensus ops, you're probably doing it wrong.

(3) includes Waku (Status), Matrix ... depends a bit on whether you think this category should only include p2p networks or federated networks of servers qualify.

There are many other projects that could be listed for those categories, those are just off the top of my head.


If it's just when the database is decentralized, why even call it web3? Why should web standards even care about implementation details of the database?

We didn't move to "web3" when db sharding became a big thing, or when NoSQL caught on.


I don't think a sharded database is "decentralized".


Because this is fundamentally different?

No third party owns your data. Imagine a social network built like this.


Email and Mastodon are existing decentralized social networks. If you want to call something Web3, it's going to need to be more than just "decentralized".


technically they are federated, not decentralized. Gmail is a centralized, federated node. Think like a federation of states where each state is its own centralized, independent unit.

the newer definition of "decentralization" is more akin to anarchy. Collectivism vs individualism.


Email is not "technically federated". It's de facto federated. You can run your own email server on your home computer.

Anything less centralized than email isn't going to be "Web3" because it's not going to be a web at all. For the purposes of the internet, there is no functional difference between federated and decentralized. Two strangers must have a way of contacting each other -- something like an IP address at a minimum. That's a centralization point right there.

In the case of the web, DNS is going to be the main way that things are centralized.

Blockchain is similarly federated -- it just has a way to make sure that each node has a mutually agreed upon state. That doesn't make it decentralized, it just makes it redundant and distributed.


I am trying to imagine a social network like that. How would it be different?

A social network is the place to gain clout, so high profile people would continue giving away their IP for free.

The network itself could still display context-aware advertising.


Isn't that just the late 90s internet? Make your geocities page with your info, link to whoever else's pages you want, use email or chat to communicate with them. HTTP, SMTP, IRC...


Sounds like you didn't read the article.


I did, but I'm responding to the title, which is the soundbite most folks will digest.


Really wish progressive enhancement was chosen as the first thing, want to get rid of the backend db? ok, two APIs,

store to extension-managed DB (e.g. flatfiles in the home directory, or shunted onto something managed with LDAP, or loaded onto some weird coin thing on a local light node, or etc),

or in environments where extensions are fussy / overcomplicated, store to another website via a http api (la https://remotestorage.io/, or if one wants to overcomplicate it again, a remotestorage-to-weird-blockchain-thing-shim)

- - -

For the article itself, deriding web3 as "Money websites" and then basically asking for "Lightweight money websites" is a bit pointless. Storing stuff on "Money" is a big overhead, If you were to decide to write your data onto a gold ingot, you'd probably not enjoy the process of going to the bank safe deposit box each time to make a change or read a change, likewise, money websites are going to be encumbered with risk, endless layers of crypto math un-understanding, and stress.

Don't worry, someone might make a contract to provide that fine grained API you want, and that contract might not have bugs, and the tooling used might not be able to be tricked to use some other contract as an api since you know, decentralized, shouldn't be able to use only 1 implementation right

Or, if you remove money from the equation, like, hell, replace it with text files or something, even if users need to exchange text files with each other to update each other's pages (ok a bit overkill, webrtc should suffice, still requires both people online at the same time though), it still removes a lot of emotional stress


> If you were to decide to write your data onto a gold ingot

Why do crypto enthusiasts feel the need to use gold as a strawman? The vast majority of non-crypto people use digital money (in local currencies), and have never touched gold in their lives. Digital money works great, and doesn’t need a blockchain.


Trade unions beat inflation by helping negotiate higher wages.


> Why do crypto enthusiasts feel the need to use gold as a strawman?

Well, at least the US, the government treats crypto as property, at least tax-wise (actually it's taxed just like real estate or gold). It's just that crypto is much more easily transferable than real estate or gold.

> The vast majority of non-crypto people use digital money (in local currencies), and have never touched gold in their lives. Digital money works great, and doesn’t need a blockchain.

I understand this argument. The traditional financial system is quite mature, and works pretty well. I do have a few concerns with it though:

•Negative interest rates in some parts of the world

•Ever increasing sovereign debt throughout the world, with no intent of ever paying it back

•Lack of ability for 24/7 payments, or even instant payments (at least in the US, however, this fortunately seems to be changing with things like FedNow)

•No APIs for banks which make things like screen scraping necessary for data aggregation, i.e. Mint, or verification tools, i.e. Plaid (and I know this opens a can of worms because banking data should be regulated and private, but still, I've seen this API complaint on HN before, and crypto is a more open system, that could also have layers of permission added to it)

This leads me to another point, which is actually a question. How do people here beat inflation? Stocks? Sure, I have some stocks, too. But crypto yields are some of the highest right now, and it isn't all just some manipulation or leverage or something. Take a look at proof of stake coins, you can stake say, Polkadot, on Kraken, for 12% APR [1]. You can also stake Polkadot, directly, without using an exchange as an intermediary, it just requires more technical skill. The staking return on proof of stake coins is a reward for helping secure the proof of stake network.

I've heard Charles Hoskinson, the creator of Cardano and co-founder of Ethereum, say in one of his videos that we need a new asset class in order to make up for this inflationary environment. And also, I would add, that we need that to accommodate for what I consider to be a war on cash. I'd be happy to keep fiat in a savings account, and I did for many years, until the rates on savings accounts went to basically zero. Now people are basically forced to hold riskier things like stocks, or if they have an even higher appetite for risk, crypto.

In short, I don't think everything in digital fiat is going perfectly well. If it was, I don't think I'd find crypto as attractive.

[1] https://www.kraken.com/en-us/features/staking-coins


> government treats crypto as property, at least tax-wise

This is because the crypto community by and large also uses it like an investment asset, and not a currency.

> Negative interest rates in some parts of the world

This is to boost spending into the economy, and not as a result of currency being fiat.

> Ever increasing sovereign debt throughout the world, with no intent of ever paying it back

Sovereign debt is a problem, but it’s not solved by using an supply-limited cryptocoin. Governments exist for the people (corruption and inefficiency notwithstanding) and will create/spend money to build infra and promote the economy for its people.

> Lack of ability for 24/7 payments, or even instant payments

It’s good that you acknowledge a lot of these are USA-specific problems, because indeed, it’s possible to do 24/7 instant digital payments in most of Europe and Asia.

> No APIs for banks

Again, this is solved in EU (PSD2) and Asia (UPI in India). There are lots of apps that use these APIs and have created a burgeoning FinTech landscape.

> How do people here beat inflation

This is a social policy issue, and does need to be solved (not by currency changes though). The only people who worry about money vs inflation are wealthy people. Everyone else is trying to survive, and couldn’t care less about hodling crypto.

> proof of stake coins

These put early adopters and wealthier owners at an unfair advantage. Thus furthering wealth disparity. Even with fiat, the wealthy class can make good returns and avoid inflation, like you mentioned. The returns vary, but but so will crypto once adopted widely.

> reward for helping secure the proof of stake network

This is really wasteful. I’d much rather investments that support real-life industries, local entrepreneurship, or even just plain index funds that support the entire market.

> war on cash

I fully agree that the ruling class has been screwing over the average person, by devaluing their labor and greedily extracting profits.

But again, it’s a social problem, not one that tech like crypto will ever solve.


I appreciate your response and I think you make a lot of sense. However, it sounds to me like you trust governments a lot more than I do. I think the first priority of politicians and governments is to stay in power, and everything else, including social good, is an afterthought. I'm not an anarchist, and I do think that having some government is good, but I appreciate that there is now some (potential) competition to sovereign currencies because I think governments are not managing their currencies well and that affects their people.

I have an issue being an American and USD being able to be printed almost endlessly. Also, hopefully The Fed will eventually raise rates again, but we won't know until that actually happens, and until then, high inflation, good stock performance, and basically zero interest on savings accounts (which I think is a problem).

I also think that crypto pushes those slow to change to innovate to keep up. But, as you point out, other parts of the world are ahead of traditional banking vs the US, so that has the same effect, but I think coming at it from all sides, forcing static industries to change, is a good thing.

I think it's also worth taking note of how the US changed it's tune on creating a CBDC, I assume because China is way ahead in that regard. Again, innovation is forcing those slower to change, to change. Speaking of that, do you think if China's CBDC takes off, that traditional finance will have a chance competing? Something like that could become the new world reserve currency and other countries have to keep up their innovation so that they can compete with that.

Some other specific responses:

> This is because the crypto community by and large also uses it like an investment asset, and not a currency.

I don't have an issue with this, but anyway, I think it's because the government wants a tax cut. They could make it a currency / legal tender. Some countries have (El Salvador). It looks like more South American countries are soon to follow (Panama could be next [1]). I think this is also an example of how this technology is not going away anytime soon.

> This is to boost spending into the economy, and not as a result of currency being fiat.

This is still an example that the existing system has some problems.

> The only people who worry about money vs inflation are wealthy people.

Well, I'm curious to know how folks on HN (some of whom are wealthy, startup founders, etc.), are thinking about problems like this.

> This is really wasteful. I’d much rather investments that support real-life industries, local entrepreneurship, or even just plain index funds that support the entire market.

Crypto does support entrepreneurship and it creates jobs (locally and globally). New platforms are being created on it. I don't think everything should always stay the same and I don't think traditional financial systems should be the only option. Let's iterate and innovate.

> But again, it’s a social problem, not one that tech like crypto will ever solve.

Again, I don't trust that governments actually care enough or will actually do that much to change existing structures. Something like crypto has the potential to force them to change. Also, there will at least be a wealth distribution to crypto investors, and the barrier to entry is much lower than traditional markets (in part because it's new, but also in part because it's a global technology that is not tied to any government).

[1] https://www.cnet.com/personal-finance/panama-unveils-bill-to...


To me, web3 isn't about building everything on some blockchain.

Firstly, it's about building networks and systems that serve us instead of what we have today: big, monolithic networks that profit off our rage and addiction.

Secondly, it's about building a model of democracy that is fundamentally more scalable than what we have today: people with differing opinions and values being forced into a single echo chamber and fighting in a zero-sum game to take control of the chamber.

Decentralization won't solve all our problems, but I believe it's a more natural and scalable way to organize on the web.


Even an ideal blockchain-ified P2P "Web 3.0" is a silly fantasy on par with NAT-less IPv4. First they reinvented gold & databases, now they are reinventing IP.

Flat networks are a thing of the past, when you could keep the whole Internet in a paper directory on your desk. Blockchains may be used for settlement and accounting within small networks of international firms, but they will never service the latency and throughput needs of 8 billion netizens.


I suggest you look into blockchains like Solana and Fantom, there have been some technological advancements lately that allow crazy fast and cheap transactions (with some other downsides of course).

I think of the current state of crypto as a kind of a wild west situation, there's still so much to be discovered and there's a lot of competition between different tokens to see who can do something better than the others. Saying that it's too slow right now doesn't mean it still will be a couple years down the line.


Fantom: "Each network built in Fantom is independent from one another."

Solana: "Many [Solana] clusters may coexist. When two clusters share a common genesis block, they attempt to converge. Otherwise, they simply ignore the existence of the other."

Continuing my analogy, now they've gone and reinvented NAT/"IP federation", and destroyed the global P2P nature of Bitcoin. They've readded middlemen to online payments. Remind me what problem they are solving?


Middlemen? Since when is a cluster of decentralized nodes a middleman?

Yes, it turns out that making a decentralized system both secure and scalable is a difficult problem, so people have been looking for ways to deal with it and improve on the original solution of Bitcoin (which, by the way, as I'm sure you know, has incredible energy consumption just to validate less than 5 transactions per second. How is that global?). I don't think that organizing decentralized nodes into some sort of bottom-up structure takes away from the P2P nature of blockchains. Just because a solution to a problem is not trivial and easy to understand (which Bitcoin is from the point of view of many more contemporary protocols), does not make it invalid.

At least Solana is a level 1 protocol, as opposed to some other solutions like sharding or zkRollups which add even more complexity.


Theres some great work being done on zk roll ups you might be interested in.


Congrats to Vitalik or whomever on reinventing settlement banks.


Well, only in the same sense that a blockchain is a reinvention of a government currency issuer - there's a sense in which that's true, but it misses the really interesting stuff.

With correctly implemented zk roll ups, the security guarantees are the same as transactions on the main chain. The changes that are rolled up are proved to have taken place correctly, and an end user can extract their money from the roll up even if the roll up network stops functioning. They're also fast. Those are some nice advantages over a settlement bank.


HN comments that use the word "never" should raise eyebrows.

You're not wrong if you assume technology is fixed. But it ain't.


The only way I can see your comment being correct is if you're open to redefinitions of “blockchain” which do not require either immutability or the global public ledger. The current blockchains handle a vanishingly-small fraction of global financial traffic using far more equipment, data, and power — there's no magic wand which can allow you to scale up by many orders of magnitude without architectural changes.

That could be solved by splitting into local blockchains so the global network only handles transactions between local banks but that seems like it's basically giving up most of the benefits claimed in blockchain marketing.


The Ethereum roadmap has sharding coming soon, and architectural changes aplenty. Of course in the near term the approach for scaling is rollups, zk-rollups in the mid term and optimistic rollups in the short term (already running).

Those approaches still have immutability and a global public ledger but that ledger no longer lists every single transaction.


Right, and we will eventually choose to forgo toilets and defecate in the streets again, because "never say never".

Please address my argument instead of this unconstructive purity-testing nonsense.


Your argument is refuted by the fact the technology to solve the problem you claim will never be solved literally already exists, one version of which has a market cap of almost $10B.[1]

Claiming that a very obvious engineering problem incentivized to being solved is the same as imagining us being incentivized to regress in the way you mention is also weird.

[1] https://www.avax.network/


Please tell me how an Avalanche blockchain is able to handle billions of global P2P transactions a day.


I presumed you were using “blockchain” as a short hand for “distributed fault tolerant system that solves Byzantine generals problem.” If not then I agree blockchains in the literal sense probably are a transitional tech.


It's not about "never say never". It's about HN being notoriously bad at predicting trends.


> Right, and we will eventually choose to forgo toilets and defecate in the streets again, because "never say never".

It's happened in the past; why would you rule it out in the future?


My biggest issue with it is its complexity. It's impossible to tell what the fuck is happening behind things like Metamask, which makes me wonder if the whole thing isn't fake decentralization with hidden centralized services or authorities working behind the scenes. It also means that it's hard to create different implementations.

I've seen fake decentralization in other areas in the very dodgy cryptocurrency ecosystem. A lot of times it's "we'll decentralize this eventually when we figure out some issues" but that never happens. After the ICO or coin offering or whatever nothing else happens in the repository and Tesla sells some more high-end cars.

The web was simple and its core still mostly is. It has a ton of extensions and newer protocols but you don't need all that to use it for its original document store purpose.


This is what happens to most decentralized services. They are hard and wonky to use. People need help using them, corporations need reliability. And hence come centralized services to help sort it out.

Examples:

* Cash -> Bank Deposit Account

* Email (host your own mail server) -> Gmail

* Rack your own server -> AWS

* Everybody is a DNS node -> Root Servers/ISPs/Cloudflare/OpenDNS, etc.

* BitTorrent -> Pirate Bay

* Git -> GitHub

* Bitcoin -> Coinbase


Web3 is hardly stupid (it's actually very clever). The name if off-putting more than anything. When I think of Web 3.0, I think of augmented reality, every physical thing having its own QR code which you can look up easily with a smartphone. And if the thing is too small, it could have a chip in it that communicates with NFC and you could learn more about your environment.

We're still sort of there, but the dream of QR & NFC codes for everything hasn't been fleshed out yet. Web 3.0 could also be simply an assortment of apps? I think we need more app stores, not the two monopolies we have currently (Play and Apple Store).

The dream of having everything happen in the browser could die if it wanted. No more trying to makes sites have an 'appy' feel which has been the main agenda for well over the last decade and a half now.


QR codes are about the easiest possible attack vector for malware. Is there a decentralized malware scanner that I can pass the QR code through first?


> QR codes are about the easiest possible attack vector for malware

It's up to Android and iOS (and others) to make sure QR codes are not an 'easy' attack vector.

Why should it be the case that sending an SMS with a (malware-loaded) bit.ly link takes over your phone?

If the phone OS does `principle of least privilege` and sandboxing, and other mitigations then the user should be fine.


I think you and the author have completely different definitions of "web 3".


Bittorrent seems to be the pioneer in this open P2P space and I liked also the zeronet initiative about descentralized web. Web3 is trying to pickup on that same space, I think maybe unifying these efforts of Web3 with Bittorrent and all will make a big descentralized ground for what Web3 should probably become and yes I do not think wallets are a good approach either it is stupid, is what we have now but we need a better approach without any browser plugins, maybe facial recognition is the key here.


My main concern with it is that a lot of these temporary ecosystem workarounds become de facto standard and it lessens the original purpose of doing all this. An example in the article is Infura. It is a system designed to allow easy use of the network in the interim before a truly decentralized peer to peer network is mature, but habits form and interests entrench and tools get built on infrastructure and you get legacy systems and technical debt and nobody wants to change how things work after a while. I think this is basically the gripe of the article, we have not delivered on the sales pitch yet, are still relying on stopgaps, and as time goes on it becomes increasingly difficult to move past them and they become the norm.


100% agree with your post. This line of thinking was a big motivator to write the article!


Metamask and others are seemingly the Google Gears of 2021.


Lol the company I am working for is doing some kind of wallet that basically allow you to keep and use your private key without a (shitty) browser extension like metamask. You basically just get your key back by authenticating with your google account and pressing your finger at touchid. Basically allow people to have same web 2.0 experience when using web3 apps.


Wait, let me get this straight - your company has the non-sharded encryption key (not the user), it centralized by your service, and all of that is subject to google's whims. Yep, sounds like the heart of web3.


Metamask is distributed through Google as well, and it operates in Chrome.

It would be easier to let me know what web3 technology is not subject to Google's whims!


I dunno, say, Brave browser??? Just spitballing here.


IPFS


If you want something to have broad appeal you have to hide the key management. Users will never keep track of keys or wallets and they will lose them regularly. Most services solve this by not having the key be the source of truth for anything (i.e. iMessage, WhatsApp, and SSH) so that you can rotate them on a whim. Other services solve this by just hosting the key when it's actually important (Bitlocker). This is just an example of the latter. Sites that support "Login with Google/FB/Email" aren't some malicious conspiracy theory, they're how most people access and secure all their information.


I don't get the hate for Metamask. You can connect hardware wallets to it and its actual UX is good.


We can't it be a browser-integrated feature? That we can store keys, have them sign messages and e.g. unlock the signature function through e.g. a hardware wallet or a master password?


.. Because major browsers will need to integrate it and they haven't. You can build things yourself more easily than you can convince say chrome to build something (which is the whole point of extensions, really). What you seem to be asking is just metamask to be integrated directly into chrome, which is a nice ask but not done to the right people (ask google/firefox) and its lack does not turn web3 into a 'Stupid Idea'.

There's a lot of extension functionality I'd like straight in the browser itself but it's not the extension's fault that browser devs haven't included it.


Good UX isn't security, MM and Infuria are owned by the same person (very centralized), you can't change your secret phrase, sentry.js doesn't secure a react app very well at all... etc. etc. etc. I'm not a hater (actually I'm a user), but I am pointing out a wide variety of issues that should be publicly discussed.


They were uploading significant details of failed transactions to Segment. If that ever happened to you, they have a connection of a wallet address to other personal details.


I was pretty disappointed when I realized how much of this was just funnelling through one company, Infura to actually function at all.

Always assumed Metamask and web3.js was interfacing with the network directly in a decentralized way until I dug in and started coding with it myself.

Still think the promise of an identity you can truly own and authenticate with that has finance built in is important in taking the web back from the megacorps.


Building p2p networks with their own light clients is incredibly difficult.

We built OpenBazaar (decentralized marketplace using cryptocurrency) as a p2p network on top on IPFS with it's own client. It eventually failed and everyone asked for a web version and a mobile app (which we built but wasn't truly decentralized thus negating the entire point).

I agree that the current web3 approach is often more decentralized in name than in practice, but it seems to be a tradeoff most people are happy with.


I'm generally a blockchain skeptic but I would count this article as evidence _for_ web3 being important.

Everything that matters goes through a phase of the idea being great and inspiring and powerful, but the tooling being utter garbage. The latter is fixable.



That's a lot of words to, essentially, say "OK, Boomer".


Did the author just forget about the attempted corporate take over of .org? [0]. Blockchains like Ethereum are part of the solution which help prevent something like that from happening.

They're not at the stage to be usable yet but it seems that is where we are going. It just takes more de-platformings, bans, hostile takeovers, suspensions etc to accelerate the need for this.

[0] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=22122458


> Blockchains like Ethereum are part of the solution which help prevent something like that from happening.

How so? The problem is that many humans are greedy. How do "Blockchains like Ethereum" fix that? The existence of a technology that's completely orthogonal to the problem isn't "part of the solution" although marketing it as a solution certainly does help move worthless tokens.


> How so? The problem is that many humans are greedy. How do "Blockchains like Ethereum" fix that?

You do realise Ethereum is a blockchain ecosystem and not just a coin? So ENS isn't part of the solution then?

Perhaps you yourself have your own better solution then?


I asked "How so?" and, rather than offer any answer at all, you've replied by jabbering about the blockchain again.

The closest to an answer is perhaps "So ENS isn't part of the solution then?" which I suppose hints that you believe somehow if everybody pays hundreds of dollars to some third party (sorry, for the "gas" to power an otherwise "free" transaction like a "free" gift that asks for $25 postage and packing...) this will somehow cure an unrelated problem. But who knows, since you didn't explain it.


> I asked "How so?" and, rather than offer any answer at all, you've replied by jabbering about the blockchain again.

No need to admit that you detest anything 'blockchain'. I'm assuming that you have your own working clever idea to this then?

Very easy to sit there and criticise than to actually build anything...


This whole post reads like someone who is frustrated with a new technology they don't understand.

>We should stop building key-management plugins and start thinking about a standardizable web API. We must stop training our users to install shitty browser plugins!

"standardizable web API" is a total pipe dream. The space moves too quickly for standards. Why is installing a browser plugin bad? Is metamask shitty? The millions of MAU must not have noticed.

>We need to make light clients work as soon as possible and become independent from third-party services like thegraph and Infura.

What does this mean? You can use metmask and web3/ethers.js with your own node. When $$$ is on the line (as with Uniswap, et. al.), it makes sense to farm out your infra to someone else. Should we also be moving away from AWS and its reliability / productivity gains to appease the author?

>We need to improve our client libraries (ethers.js and web3.js) by dramatically simplifying them and making them bug-free (god damn it!)!

Yes, first good point of the article. People are working on this. Could be said about ANY technology. Web3 is still VERY early.

>We need to take advantage of some of the blockchain's fundamental properties. Most data is immutable so let's start caching things.

Not sure what this means either. What are we caching? Where? Why? Are you aware we already (kinda) do this with the strata of different ETH nodes via say syncmode in geth? Or are you talking about front ends, many of which are already distributed via IPFS?


Post's date has 2020, but it also says Sept. 8th, therefore I ask: Is this exactly one year old, or a date error?


No this article is one year old. But it's true that it's a rather weird coincidenct that it popped on HN exactly a year later.


So I've never heard of this term until now, but actually, I can think of a use case for this I kind of like. So, pretty much daily I get linked to an article on a paywalled site that wants me to subscribe or get a free trial. And I always click away, I'm not going through the hassle of email verification or putting in my credit card for a 2 minute read. But if this supported something like "pay 25 cents to read this article", I'd probably do it. Microtransactions seems like it could be a viable use for this kind of thing?


This dream of penny transactions is as old as the web — even HTTP status code 402 was reserved for this purpose [1], but a unified solution never happened.

Many startups have tried building add-ons and other solutions for this, but it doesn't seem to be a very attractive proposition to a larger user base. People seem to prefer subscriptions rather than nickel-and-diming each piece of content. (Consider how Spotify and Netflix triumphed over the iTunes Store model of 99-cent transactions.)

The blockchain backing of so-called "Web3" is not a great fit for micro-transactions because fees are very high and the networks are congested. You'd be paying several dollars in transaction fees for that 25-cent purchase, and waiting several minutes for it to go through.

Of course this can be mitigated by a centralized solution that can handle higher volumes. But then it's no different from all the micro-transaction startups that already failed.

[1] https://developer.mozilla.org/en-US/docs/Web/HTTP/Status/402


Everyone I've talked to (and my personal feeling) is that people are kind of sick of the number of subscriptions they have and have to maintain. I think the microtransaction thing never took off not because it's a bad idea, but because it never was built-in and legit feeling and widespread. If I just had a general crypto wallet where I could add some spending money every once in a while, and I could use that to unpaywall things by clicking a button, I would totally use that.


Why should it be crypto though? If e.g. Stripe offered this and you could fill it up with your credit card (which you've probably given to them already), they could reach a much larger group of users and it would be easier to use than the private-keys-and-wallets hassle of crypto.


It doesn't have to be crypto, but having a central corporation in charge of it no doubt creates some tensions. If Stripe or PayPal or something did offer this and it was wide enough spread to be useful I'd probably use it.


While subscription fatigue is very real, I’m not sure micro transactions solves anything either. In fact, a great example is IAPs - most revenue is dominated by whales, with the rest barely transacting significantly at all.


IAP's basically are micro transactions though. After all, you're paying through Apple/Google and it's usually small enough amounts ($1-$10) that you can justify it to yourself. The problem with IAPs is the App part. I don't want to have to get the New York Times App to get rid of a NTY paywall.


> IAP's basically are micro transactions though

That’s exactly why I used it as a good example. And I didn’t mean that NYT has to use IAPs, they could easily integrate Apple/Google Pay for frictionless micro-payments if they wanted to. It’s just that consumers wouldn’t use it.


Blendle also solves this problem, but it’s a bit higher friction.


1. The web3 'vision' came before the web3.js library they just named it after it but other blockchain interactions fall under it

2. There'll always be subpar devs, and those that make too many calls etc. There's freedom on the web, that's hardly a fault of the idea. In fact the whole article is complaints are about some of the current sites rather than anything more (and many of them aren't bad). The vision if you believe people with cryptopunk avatars is vaster than that already.

3. Some of the complaints like you not having MetaMask to interact with a MetaMask-based website are just odd. Do you complain that users without a phone can't be called?

4. Ethers.js is a lot simplified compared to web3.js. People are working on all those complaints.

5. There's non-extension wallets, too. Solflare doesn't make me install an extension to interact with sites. The extensions just have benefits - everything is fully local but easily integratable so they aren't a bad solution to my eyes.


The premise and conclusion of the post is strange because it seems to say Web3 is extremely awesome, and therefore should become default in browers, rather then having to deal with extension!?!? Or did I get this wrong?

Brave already integrates these things by the way.


You're righty it's exactly the premise of the article.

Seey I've been building in the crypto space since a long time and this post was also a way to express my impatience. I'd like some things to have progressed further by now. Particularly all the web standardization points...


web2: client <-> server web3: client <-> client <-> client


When's a client become a server?

If you need to connect to a fullnode which is running in a datacenter somewhere whose sole purpose is to service these kinds of requests, surely it's just a server.


From the blog post I understood this still talks from the browser client to some gateway server, which might then be part of a p2p network. Which would certainly be required if the library uses http for communication. Or did I got it wrong and a native browser plugin enables other means of communication?


web1: client <-> client

Web2 happened for a lot of very good reasons.


eh, dude, web 2.0 was never defined either. it was cringy for a long time as well. and yes, web 3.0 is absolutely a play on words from web 2.0.

this blogger is thinking way too hard about it after some slight disillusionment after a lot of excitement about it, and accurate assessment of its current and future capabilities.

its totally okay to criticize how much people rely on Infura. that has nothing to do with an inflammatory title just to get the attention of some Gen-X blockchain skeptics that are just looking for a venue to write their unrelated blockchain skeptic comment.


> you're able to pool thousands of dollars

What does it mean 'to pool' ether?

I'm not familiar with using it as a verb.

Or rather, if its just a transaction, what is the mraning of the choice of the word pool for such an event.


I suggest you do research in Ethereum on:

- staking

- automated market makers

- p2p lending/borrowing

E.g. the compound.finance whitepaper explains some technical details well.

One incomplete definition could be that you submit your money temporarily to the control of a mart contract.


if a group of people or organizations "pool" their money, knowledge, or equipment, they share it or put it together so that it can be used for a particular purpose

for instance, you can "pool" money to provide liquidity for trades on the ethereum blockchain via uniswap.


Would it be accurate to say that if I buy a stock that I am pooling my funds?



> We should stop building key-management plugins and start thinking about a standardizable web API. We must stop training our users to install shitty browser plugins!

Interestingly Solid also used to have an authentication system based on in-browser certificates (WebID-TLS), then switched to an OIDC-based system (Solid-OIDC).


Sadly not sure the ecosystem is mature enough for any kind of standardization yet.


Ethereum is, what, 6 years old. Metamask has been in development for 5 years. Bitcoin is 12 years old.

Bitcoin is older than React.js. Ethereum has been around for as long as TikTok. Uber was founded in the same year as Bitcoin and has essentially destroyed a worldwide industry.

At some point these things aren't young or early, they're just stupid.


Technologies mature at different rates. ARPAnet was created in the 1960s. www was created in 1989. Yahoo & Netscape were started in 1994. Foundational infrastructure is rarely explosive in growth.

It's also unclear how you're measuring success. By market cap, Bitcoin beats out all three of your examples (React, TikTok, & Uber). But it's also a bit weird to compare Bitcoin to two of the fastest growing consumer companies in recent memory. It's apples & oranges.


What point are you making here? Just because they haven't destroyed a worldwide industry in 5 or 6 years they are stupid?


They haven't 'found' a single practical use case other than for some speculators who think they have a 'store of value'.

Reading this thread it's clear Web3 doesn't really have a use case either, it's more like a concept.

These have many parallels in industry - there are tons of products that never got made because they didn't make a whole lot of sense even though they were cool. The difference being, people can chose to spend their own time on these things now if they so choose and a lot of people do.

It's like a distributed technical artistic counter-cultural social movement except the artists believe they're doing something more practical than they probably are.


6 - 12 years isn't a long time for the ecosystems these protocols are attempting to build.


Both Über and react are nearing eol.


Unfortunately, "web3" being placed next to words like "crypto" and "blockchain" stains it as bullshit full of grifters and leeches.

Edit: forgot about the cherry on top "NFT" another layer of shit on what I thought would be pure and innovative. Grifters all the way down.


It's a metaphor dude.




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