To the casual web user, the internet appears to be a free and open place. For those who mainly log on to check email, watch the latest viral video, or read the latest news and gossip from around the world, it seems like the internet already allows anyone with an internet connection to freely express what they want.
But spend just a bit more time observing and diving into the chaos, and one easily sees that this is not the case. There have been many headlines that have clearly shown the parties, organizations, and governments that are truly in control.
The world is currently living in the era of Web2. Web2, which is dominated by tech behemoths like Amazon, Microsoft, and Google, are ultimately the organizations that are providing the underlying infrastructure to power humanity’s favorite social media applications, tools, and tech. Amazon is perhaps most famous for its two-day Prime shipping, but individuals may be surprised to know its AWS (Amazon Web Services) business — which provides a suite of infrastructure services — powers more than 33% of the backbone of the internet. Microsoft and Google lag only slightly behind, with 18% and 9% of the market share respectively in the same space.
It’s not difficult to see how such concentration of power can quash a truly open internet as any messaging which may not align with company interests or belief systems can be silenced simply by unplugging the support that these entities provide.
On the other end of the spectrum, humanity faces blatant censorship from certain governments around the world. With political leaders keen on controlling the messaging and narrative of what can and cannot enter a particular nation, some countries have taken to blocking and banning the presence of certain types of content. The most famous example is China, with its ban on access to many applications and websites from the Western world. The “great firewall” essentially creates a separate internet for inhabitants of the People’s Republic, again preventing true openness in the digital space.
The World Wide Web wasn’t meant to be this way. Imagined by its pioneers to be a creation that leveled the playing field for mankind, the web has instead evolved into a space where users can only do what they want if their governments allow them, and/or if those actions are also not against the interests of the companies that power the platforms where those users are.
Defining the Open Web and Setting the Stage for Dfinity’s Internet Computer
The definition of the “open web” is exactly as it sounds — a web that’s open for all. At a more granular level, this is a web that is for the people, by the people, free of centralized intermediaries, gatekeepers, or censorship by the government. It’s a digital realm where a user logging in from a country with one form of government could see and experience the same digital world as a user logging in from another country with a different form of government. In such a world, worries of deplatforming and concerns about messaging that don’t align with a centralized party wouldn’t exist as users would be open to express what they want, how they want, and when they want.
As explained, this simply isn’t possible in the current iteration of the web. Bound by the infrastructure controlled by Big Tech, today’s online users seem destined to play by the rules of governments or the companies that may reside within them.
The rise of blockchain technologies will soon propel the digital world into the next iteration of the web — Web3. Blockchain and its decentralized technologies are introducing a new way of computing, and a new approach to just how users can participate in the digital world. While some may be familiar with bitcoin and ethereum as blockchain networks, research shows the Internet Computer (IC) blockchain may ultimately be the decentralized network that facilitates the release of the open web. Building upon its earlier successors, the Internet Computer already has a suite of tools ready to usher humanity into the next stage of the world wide web.
Bitcoin and Ethereum Start the Open Web Journey — Dfinity’s Internet Computer Takes It to the Next Level
The growing importance and significance of bitcoin may only now be starting to be understood around dinner tables around the world, but the world’s first cryptocurrency has been around for more than a decade and officially turned 13 this year.
It goes without saying that what bitcoin has introduced is revolutionary. Decentralization at scale was simply not possible before its introduction as users ultimately needed to rely on a trusted, centralized intermediary to govern transactions and interactions, and ensure some sort of order was followed. While these centralized intermediaries have been beneficial and have resulted in the internet we have today, they’ve also centralized power into the hands of the few, as previously noted.
A protocol designed primarily to transfer value from one wallet to another, bitcoin was revolutionary but lacked the additional tools to eventually develop into the next iteration of the web.
As is natural with evolution, other protocols soon began to develop, inspired by the possibilities enabled by blockchain and the promise that bitcoin held for decentralized technologies. Ethereum, introduced six years after the first bitcoin was mined, would bring a new solution to the decentralized space where users could begin building decentralized applications on top of the underlying blockchain. These solutions, known as “dApps,” would allow not only for decentralized transactions to occur between one user and another, but for applications to run on top of the decentralized network — meaning applications could be designed in such a way where no single entity or user would be in control of the platform.
Where bitcoin found success, ethereum has taken it one step further. And while both solutions continue to grow and remain promising, significant challenges remain. Although brilliant by design, its largest hurdles to date are scaling challenges and speed. Bitcoin, for all it’s accomplished, continues to operate at a speed that is simply too slow for consumers of the digital age. With transaction times potentially reaching up to 40 minutes and a throughput of 4.6 transactions per second, bitcoin can’t compare to current competitors (e.g. credit card processing companies), which can complete transactions in seconds and process more than 1,000 transactions per second.
Ethereum makes a significant improvement on top of bitcoin, with one-eighth of the transaction time (five minutes), and a throughput of three times the bitcoin (13 transactions per second), but again, lagging significantly against current competitors in the Web2 world. Ethereum faces additional challenges in pricing, seen clearly during the non-fungible token (NFT) boom of 2021. As demand for settlement on the ethereum blockchain increased, so too did the “gas” fees (fees paid to validate transactions) to process those transactions. At peak demands, gas fees to process just one transaction could cost an individual hundreds of U.S. dollars (potentially more than the value of the transaction requested).
Like its predecessor, Dfinity’s Internet Computer learned from those that have come before it. The Internet Computer was built understanding the limitations that bitcoin and ethereum are facing, and has designed an infrastructure to tackle these challenges and more. Our research below reveals just what the Internet Computer brings and how these new tools and solutions will finally launch the world into the open web era.
Making the Open Web Possible — Dfinity’s Internet Computer Blockchain
Research shows Dfinity’s Internet Computer was built with decentralization in mind. With more than 400 sovereign nodes, Dfinity’s IC blockchain is censorship resistant — from governments, big tech, and other centralized parties. With such an underlying foundation, and more decentralized nodes growing by the year, Dfinity’s answer to an open web looks more unstoppable than ever.
Dfinity’s IC blockchain is also built with extremely fast speeds — and not just when compared to those of bitcoin and ethereum. Research has shown the IC blockchain can process transactions in less than one second, easily outpacing the speeds of both the bitcoin and ethereum networks. Capable of also delivering 11,500 requests per second, Dfinity’s solution looks to be running laps around Web2 credit card processing transactions and entering into a league of its own.
Research has also shown Dfinity has been able to do all of this without sacrificing the user experience as it relates to cost. Unlike most blockchains, where users pay gas fees, the Internet Computer leverages a reverse-gas model. This means Dfinity designed the blockchain so developers must provide the funds to process the transactions on the blockchain, making it a “gasless” experience for the end users.
True decentralization, speed, zero-cost, and arguably the fastest blockchain around — and still with room to grow. Our research shows Dfinity’s Internet Computer appears to have all the right pieces in place to lay out a strong foundation for a truly open web.
What Additional Research Shows as Dfinity Moves to the Open Web
Dfinity’s Internet Computer was launched in May 2021. In less than one year, this revolutionary blockchain has made leaps and bounds in infrastructure, speed, cost, and other capabilities. It’s also onboarded a suite of decentralized applications, bringing a level of utility to the network that many other blockchains are only beginning to start working on.
From decentralized social applications to decentralized marketplaces, Dfinity’s making it clear it has all of the tools needed for projects, businesses, and users to experience and live in a digital world that’s fully open. As more individuals discover the possibilities and capabilities of Dfinity’s Internet Computer, the vision and promise of the open web appears within reach.