Distributed web, or what we now call Web3, is a growing area of interest for developers and businesses. The idea behind it is to break up the internet so that no single entity has control over all the data on it.
In a centralized system, all the information is stored in a single place. For example, if you buy something on Amazon, all of your data is stored in one place and can be accessed by Amazon. If you have an account with them, they have access to everything you buy and every product review you leave. This can be problematic if this information gets hacked or stolen because it's all in one place and there's no way to change it.
In a distributed system, the information is spread out over multiple locations so that no one person or company has full control over all of your information.
There are many different types of distributed systems ranging from blockchain technology to peer-to-peer networks, but they all share some common traits:
Decentralized control: Information is spread out across multiple devices so there’s no central authority that can control it.
Distributed storage: Data isn't stored in one place but instead across multiple devices (or nodes).
Consensus algorithms: Decisions about how data is stored are made collaboratively by everyone participating in the system (and not necessarily by any central authority).
For businesses who are exploring what are current distributed internet systems and how they can benefit their operations, there are many examples that are growing in prominence.
The most prolific is Ethereum. Ethereum is a distributed database that uses blockchain technology to store information about transactions between people. Bitcoin is a distributed database that uses blockchain technology to store information about transactions between people and assets (like money).
Swarm is a distributed file storage system that uses blockchain technology to store files on computers around the world (instead of in one central location). IPFS is another file storage system that does something similar.
Mastodon and Fediverse
Mastodon and Fediverse are examples of distributed social networks — or general purpose social platforms that allow users to post content and interact with each other. Peertube and DTube are examples of distributed video platforms, where users can upload videos that are stored on their own computers and shared via peer-to-peer technology.
Distributed marketplaces are a thing today as well - like OpenBazaar. OpenBazaar enable buyers and sellers to connect directly without a middleman taking a cut of each sale. This makes it easier for customers to buy items they love at lower prices while providing artists with more control over their work and profits.
These examples are gaining popularity because they offer benefits that centralized systems don't. Some of the benefits include:
- Increased privacy. If you use a centralized service to access the web, everything you do on that service can be tracked and logged by the company that owns it. In other words, they know what websites you visit, what content you consume and even what apps you use. Distributed networks don’t have any centralized points of failure so there’s no one entity with access to all of your data.
- Improved security. A decentralized network also makes it harder for attackers to attack the network as there are no single points of failure or control. There are no central servers to target with malware or DDoS attacks. This also makes it easier for users and businesses to protect their own data because they don’t have to rely on a third party provider to keep their information safe from hackers and other threats.
- Resiliency in the face of censorship and government regulation. The internet was originally built as a decentralized network so that no one could take it down or block access to certain websites or services. As governments around the world continue trying to stop people and businesses from accessing certain types of content online, distributed networks.
Distributed web will continue to grow more diverse as the world sees more interest and investment pour into this space. Perhaps this year, businesses will face another paradigm shift: from the internet of things to the internet of people. The internet could very well become less virtual, more physical — and more meaningful. Whichever way you look at it, it's an exciting time to be creating and exploring.
If you are exploring the distributed web for your business, let's chat.