Periods of happiness are empty pages in history, for they are the periods of harmony, times when the antithesis is missing.
— Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel
Remember the Internet in the 90s? The beautiful craziness of websites like spacejam.com and how Web 1.0 was just one big motleyness dumping information on net surfers? Your interaction options back then were similar to that of a cryptographic hash function too — it was a one-way thing. You were able to consume the information from the website, but not really provide feedback.
People — not just companies — would put up their websites online, which was far from being a simple thing like it is today, and at some point they figured out they might as well make money for going through all the trouble of building a website and publishing content on it. Website creators and publishers naturally went for advertisement to leverage their online exposure to make money. This gave rise to the online advertising which went through several development stages and is a multi-billion industry today.
The Internet having ads and companies paying for the ad display and clicks, though, became a quick rich scheme for some people as they realized there was a lot of money to be siphoned from the advertisers. One particular method was to use the so-called doorway pages. Doorway pages were pages with randomly generated content that didn’t make a lot of sense to read through, but that was tailored to specific keywords to trick search engines into thinking these were good pages that people were looking for. Because the doorways were text-dense they would often appear pretty high in search results and users would click them. On clicking a doorway page though, the user would immediately be redirected to a different page that’d have banner ads. The user would see the ads (and some would click), and the advertiser would pay the publisher — the person who created the doorway in this case — for every ad impression and every click. Doorway creation was a semi-automated and tool-assisted process, and a single person, provided specific experience and mental agility, was able to create thousands of doorway pages that’d net the person a hefty sum.
The early 2000s was the golden age of doorways.
Search engines — like Google — had a lot of success battling the doorway schemes and this river of relatively easy money flow eventually drained. Apart from the constantly improving search engine algorithms, a contributing factor to the end of the golden era of doorways was the platformization of the Internet. A lot of users today naturally limit their online presence to a few online platforms they are familiar with — like Facebook, Reddit, Quora, Youtube, and so on. Where in the 90s or early 2000s your immediate go-to page for information would be a search engine, today the majority of Google search requests might as well be just to check if you spelled the word correctly. This the Web 2.0 period.
The 90s and early 2000s was also a great era for antivirus companies and virus manufacturing crews. When you surfed the Internet during that era, you were not only looking for information but for software that you could download too. And the software was often malware that’d infect your machine, and you had to protect yourself with antivirus programs. That gave rise to a multibillion dollar industry.
Then again the Web 2.0 happened, and the platformization of the Internet triggered a steep decline in the consumer antivirus software since the likeliness of the user visiting shady pages on the Internet to download executable files sharply decreased. Users now go to platforms first — they have cloud services like Netflix and the game distribution ones like Steam, and so on.
Since platforms are now the Internet for the majority of people, it’s the platforms now that need protection from malicious attacks. This again gave rise to a different kind of protection software called Web Application Firewalls (or WAF). WAFs protect web applications, and platforms — as described in this piece — are web applications.
As we are entering the Web 3.0 era — which I sincerely believe we are and ardently support — which is characterized by being collaborative (as opposed to just social — albeit this opposition is somewhat fuzzy and crude), we realize that the blockchain technology is shaping up to be the backbone of it. And what we are going through today is very very similar to the Web 1.0 to Web 2.0 transition and the development stages within those periods.
There’s a multitude of blockchain solutions, and there’s undeniable craziness to them. The entireness of the CoinMarketCap list is just as motley as the websites of the 90s.
The shift from the crypto projects viewed as cryptocurrency to the one of blockchain as infrastructure is almost the same as the platformization of Web 2.0.
If you ever tried to run an ad campaign for a crypto project, you know that it’s swathes of cash for marketeers and the hundreds of thousands of Telegram groups and channels are loaded with bots that give your campaign fake views and are essentially doorway pages of today.
Many blockchain projects are susceptible to the 51% attacks and the WAF model of Web 3.0 is the one of relying on community and the algorithm design. There are even projects like Blockflare, which is Cloudflare for blockchain.
To put this in a very simplified perspective of the Hegelian dialectic — we are going through a process, in which every successive movement emerges from a contradiction of the previous one by retaining the best qualities of it; every successive movement emerges as a solution to the previous movement. With each round, the reality that is unfolding becomes purer; the world becomes truer.
The blockchain space has been alive and progressing for roughly a decade, and the pace is only accelerating. We are at the dawn of Web 3.0, it’s decentralized, and blockchain is a big part of it.