In discussing the network topology of social networks — whether centralized like Facebook or federated like ActivityPub — I think the ultimate goal is for users to never actually encounter the underlying architecture.
To remain human-centric, ideally services wouldn’t bend social interactions to fit a chosen technical design. Instead, you would just publish to the network you choose, freely pick your persona for each place (how you present yourself), and keep control of your content (i.e. you still have it if a network goes offline, and you can move it from place to place). For bonus points, you could also build dynamic new social interactions on the network.
This idea isn’t revolutionary; we’ve seen most of these things in one form or another. But have we ever had it all in one place?
Today I’m thinking about online misinformation. Sure, at some point, you might try to address it systemically — through “fact checking” on platforms and maybe even regulation. But I think these are only superficial fixes that don't address root causes.
Seemingly overnight, there’s been a whole new version of the Web invented, dubbed “web3.” I’ve seen a lot of people talk about it online lately, so I started looking into it to see if it’s worth paying attention to.
What I’ve found is summed up in my (slightly cheeky) web3 analysis. Basically, it’s that “web3” is a set of blockchain-based technologies with some very specific use cases. Many proponents are happy to make wild claims as to how this is truly “the future,” and more thoughtful community members seem to be drowned out by hype men who look at the tech uncritically.
From my conversations and research, it seems to me “web3” is at best poorly branded, having less to do with the Web itself than new ways to do commerce on the web. Overall, the hype seems disproportionate to the real-world usability or application, even when the idea is eventually fully realized.
Seeing that, I started wondering: if not this, what would a true iteration of the Web look like?