Web3 is dead.
But it depends on who you’re asking.
You know that heart-pounding feeling when you’re climbing up a steep flight of stairs and you’re practically fighting against gravity itself?
That’s how big of an undertaking web3 is.
Going against the grain (the grain here being what everyone is already used to) is an uphill climb. Humans are an adaptive species that somehow abhor change. It’s just the way it is.
This is especially so for a technology pegged as the new in-thing.
Its newness is the exciting yet scary part.
And with all new things, hitches are expected along the way. But just how big are these hitches? And are they worth wiping away the life savings of thousands of people?
Perhaps web3 is already dead on arrival?
In light of recent events in the crypto space (which is merely a subset but the golden first child of this technology), I thought to explore the clunkiness of blockchain technology and web3 as a whole.
Because here’s the cold truth: there are real problems with web3.
Let’s dive in.
The Centralisation of Decentralisation
In physics and chemistry, there’s a law that says: energy can neither be created nor destroyed - only converted from one form to another.
The same can be said for anything that has come to exist on our planet today. A fact that might seem obvious now, it’s something we were once oblivious to as children. The phenomenon called object impermanence didn’t make us realise back then that objects continued to exist even when we could no longer sense them. What do you mean the Math teacher didn’t just fade into oblivion after the fifth period but went home to his wife instead?
It’s the same way we also didn’t realise that nothing simply exists. The buildings we passed by were built by someone(s), as well as the roads, Daddy’s car and those Lego toys. Beyond that, they were also built with things that already were.
Web3 didn’t begin to exist in a vacuum.
It’s an enhancement of a previously known way of doing the internet. Thus, it has started off relying on the wobbly shoulders of Web2 a.k.a centralisation. It’s started off not entirely so decentralised after all. The technology still highly depends on centralisation: whether it’s for dissemination of information/education or through custodial exchange platforms.
But this in itself becomes an irony.
For a technology that prides itself on being decentralised, it then runs the risk of being taken less seriously.
Then there’s the other thing.
If the underlying blockchain technology is to gain wider-spread adoption, it must achieve two things: the ability to handle more data and the ability to do it at a faster speed.
Herein, however, lies the problem.
To increase its overall speed and, ultimately, scale, security may become compromised. This, in turn, weakens decentralisation.
Thus we have the blockchain trilemma.
I’ll attempt to (overly) simplify this quandary.
You see, the distributed control (decentralisation) this technology provides is its unique selling point. Because of the distributed nodes that work to verify transactions and data, this feature is closely tied to its security. The more nodes at work (security), the more secure the network since bad actors will need to override many more systems to be fraudulent.
But because there are more nodes involved in the verification process, this reduces processing time and hence speed (scalability).
On the other hand, increasing speed might mean reducing the number of different participants that make up the decentralised network. This reduces security and leaves us back at square one: centralisation (since control returns to a few participants).
How does one then solve this?
That’s a post for another day.
“People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it.” - George Bernard Shaw
While blockchain technology is a very intriguing piece of technology, it’s not without its kinks.
Beyond the above listed, there’s still more to grapple with, such as environmental concerns and the rise of crypto scammers.
Yes, there are kinks to work through.
Thankfully, that work is ongoing.