Web3 Isn’t as decentralized as you think

If you’re in marketing, you know that people don’t want endless options: give them 3 choices and the majority will choose not the cheapest or the most expensive but the one in the middle. Users want simplicity and convenience. And it’s the same for the web.

Web3 is exciting for people who understand technology: it’s new and it comes with fresh ideas. But when it comes to usability, do we really think that the average consumer worries about the stack when they rent a room through AirBnB? Sure, people have become more conscious of privacy, but Web2, with all its platforms and walled gardens gives them access to many convenient options. And to give a personal example: I spent many hours providing tech support to Microsoft users. Once I switched them over to tablets, all of that was gone. In short, despite its limitations, platforms are user-friendly and convenient for people who don’t have tech knowledge.

Moxie Marlinspike wrote an interesting blog about Web1, 2 and 3, starting with an explanation why centralized platforms exist:

  1. People don’t want to run their own servers and never will
  2. A protocol moves much more slowly than a platform

At the end of the stack, NFT artists are excited about this kind of progression because it means more speculation/investment in their art, but it also seems like if the point of web3 is to avoid the trappings of web2, we should be concerned that this is already the natural tendency for these new protocols that are supposed to offer a different future.

My first impressions of Web3

The blog continues with a life experiment to make distributed apps and also an NFT – and this example demonstrates clearly that instead of a platform, a new web server, in this case OpenSea, now acts as “gatekeeper”. And when OpenSea removes the NFT, that has some far reaching, unexpected consequences.

Web3 doesn’t seem as decentralized and democratized as it claims to be: now isn’t that a fascinating conclusion?