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Today’s blockchain landscape has a lot in common with the early days of the internet: it’s an unwieldy, dangerous and unregulated “wild west” of loosely connected protocols that barely seem to form the infrastructure for commerce. future. Early critics of the Internet were clearly wrong when they said that no one would ever want to use email. With blockchain, however, the jury is still out.
Concrete usability is one of the biggest challenges in moving blockchain past its Wild West phase. Using crypto for its original purpose of financial transactions is still relatively difficult. But more importantly, the broader Web3 ecosystem still lacks the convenience and UX features to form the infrastructure that will replace Web2.
Web2 is an incredibly well-oiled and easy-to-use body. Think Facebook, Google, Uber, DoorDash, and your favorite banking app. Crypto enthusiasts often complain about centralization issues in Web2, but the end user sees proper functionality and great user experience. In Web3, on the other hand, they only see a trendy UX dumpster fire with potential.
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One of the major players behind today’s computer technology, and therefore Web2, is of course Microsoft and its Office suite. Microsoft Office has found its way into almost every business and every home since the late 90s. Excel rules finance and Outlook rules email. These softwares were so functional that even the most impactful critics and competitors had no choice but to use them. These days, you can almost say the same for Google. Try as best you can to cut yourself off from Google products, but you’ll barely last a week.
Web3 has no Microsoft or Google equivalent. Most usable crypto wallets, such as MetaMask, which often serve as a portal to Web3 platforms, have limited functionality. So far, interoperability is only a promise of some of the most ambitious projects.
Until now, most trendy crypto projects have focused on Play-2-Earn games, minting NFTs of pixelated frogs or monkeys with bling. Today, however, Web3 projects are building infrastructure that matters, allowing traditional businesses to join the fray. Infrastructure can take blockchain beyond the hype, because businesses that need services actually need usability and use cases that help them. Now products can be as functional as Web2, but designed to integrate the crypto ecosystem.
For example, a group of former AWS executives got together and created Mailchain, which simplifies messaging on Web3. It looks and functions like a basic email setup, but behind the scenes, it services cryptography, recreating the abundant functionality of today’s computing technology in the Web3 space.
Other solutions go even further. Instead of aiming to pretty much replace the Web2 infrastructure, they fundamentally improve it with new features. One such example is Document GPS, one of ShelterZoom’s flagship solutions. It leverages blockchain to tokenize email attachments and other content.
The extension allows users to track their attachments and revoke access, even after a recipient opens the email. It also prevents downloads, which can significantly reduce excessive carbon emissions and data pollution resulting from the repeated downloading and downloading of the tens of billions of attachments sent daily.
For the past decade, Gmail’s sole focus has been on improving email. But by leveraging blockchain, the crypto industry could quickly catch up to Google’s dominance.
Related: If you have no idea what Web3 is, you’re not alone. Here’s a breakdown of the future of the Internet.
Decentralized construction changes the fundamentals of building infrastructure
Blockchain creates a new dynamic where you may not need a dominant company, like Google or Microsoft, to create all the functionality in a single project. Instead, you can have a collection of projects within an ecosystem – which is in the spirit of Web3 to foster democratization.
Ethereum has managed to provide a home for many amazing projects. But with the difficulties of safely managing bridges and the siled nature of L2s and side chains, perhaps other systems have greater potential to house more complete ecosystems.
Decentralized construction remains one of the strengths of blockchain technology. By not depending on a single authority, the direction and the future of the system will not be guided by local interests. Progress can be messy, but disorder can also be seen as a complex form of collective deliberation. One killer project at a time, a whole landscape of new potential can bloom.
Polkadot, for example, is designed to facilitate interoperability across chains, allowing multiple Layer 1 solutions to communicate efficiently, eventually giving rise to highly functional ecosystems. So far, Polkadot has suffered from a lack of killer apps and progress on the project is slow.
Replacing Web2 is a tall order for any technology, and it’s doubtful that blockchain can afford it. Finally, however, the industry takes over. Funky NFTs will continue to grab the headlines and spark the imagination, but infrastructure companies will be the ones to bring Web3 to the fore.
Related: Web3 is more than about technology, thanks to its inclusiveness
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