Should we ask anyone around the crypto space about the biggest thing in the world after the Internet, many would probably answer “blockchain”. True enough, blockchain technology has revolutionized the world and has given value to numerous people and institutions. Heck, it is even redistributing the wealth of the world and providing a thriving industry for many.
But as in any community, people tend to disagree on many things — and they should — and that is a sign that it has freedom of expression. In the blockchain space, however, there seems to be yet another rift forming among its most prominent people. We are not talking about a particular blockchain in which two irreconcilable camps resorted to a hard fork like in Bitcoin Cash; this time we’re talking about Web 3.0.
Last December, former Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey ruffled a few feathers when he claimed that the average person does not own Web 3.0 and that venture capitalists and liquidity providers will have firm control of it. What is more, Dorsey said that it is ultimately a “centralized entity”, only that it was packaged differently.
Some people did not have any clue about what Dorsey was talking about, and some did not really care at all, until we heard that Marc Andreessen of US-based investment firm Andreessen Horowitz (a16z) blocked Dorsey on Twitter. Of course, other big people joined the fray, including Tesla CEO Elon Musk.
And that’s when we knew something had escalated quickly. But what is it about Web 3.0 that is causing big people like Dorsey and Andreessen to block each other?
To be frank, the global community has not yet decided on a single and clear definition of Web 3.0. But the rough idea is that Web 3.0 is the next major version of the Internet as we know it. In Web 3.0, we will have sheer decentralization and that blockchain technology will play a very crucial role in its success.
It is still not clear as to the extent of decentralization. For instance, one popular model from before is peer-to-peer file-sharing through torrent sites like BitTorrent, which has been acquired by TRON under the leadership of Justin Sun, back in the day. There are also perceived improvements in terms of content and personal data ownership.
Another puzzling thing is why venture capitalists are investing very hard into Web 3.0 companies. Given that they are, well, investors, they will surely require something in return for funding these startups. And most of the time, it’s money or power.
This may be one of the things that Dorsey finds challenging to reconcile with. If Web 3.0 is supposed to be decentralized, then the ones building them should be decentralized as well. In other words, no corporation or single entity should have a major influence during its crucial decision-making moments. He’s definitely right, right?
We thought Dorsey would let go of the topic, only that he did not. A couple of days ago, he tweeted “centralization begets different centralization”, which is obviously aimed toward Web 3.0 investors again.
This time, however, there has been an overwhelming number of people who expressed their disagreement with him. Since Dorsey is perceived as a Bitcoin maximalist, many pointed out to Bitcoin being prone to decentralization since the network’s hash rate is highly affected by miners. Indeed, if the majority of Bitcoin miners suddenly decide to not support the blockchain anymore, the whole network will collapse.
But this is only the tip of the iceberg. For all its worth, Bitcoin is relatively more decentralized than other blockchains, including those that use Proof-of-Stake (PoS) and Delegated Proof-of-Stake (DPoS). Decentralization is obviously the trade-off for better scalability.
Many Bitcoin maximalists do not approve of the way other blockchains operate, similar in tone to the Slytherins who disapprove of teaching magic to non-magic families in the fiction hit series Harry Potter. They believe Bitcoin should be the ultimate blockchain since it holds the decentralization ideal in the highest esteem.
That would also present another problem. If that were to happen, then Bitcoin would become extremely expensive. And with only 21 million bitcoins in maximum supply, those who hold the most bitcoins will surely have greater influence than others in many aspects.
The fact is that Bitcoin, with its current form, cannot support the rest of the world in terms of transaction processing. There have been multiple efforts that prove to be sound like the Lightning Network, which helps provide scalability, and the Taproot upgrade, which now allows Bitcoin to host smart contracts, thereby allowing the creation of decentralized applications (DApps). However, Lightning Network has not yet been stress-tested with millions of transactions happening all at once. Furthermore, most DApps are still hosted by Ethereum and other alternatives such as Solana and Avalanche.
If Bitcoin maximalists keep on berating other blockchains, then they would appear exclusive at best and hypocrites at worst simply because what they are proposing is too perfect and that it will only happen in an ideal blockchain world. And isn’t that what made other great leaders like Vitalik Buterin think of alternatives like Ethereum?
If Bitcoin could process at least tens of thousands of transactions every second while allowing developers to create smart contracts with ease before Ethereum was born, then there would never be any issues regarding Web 3.0 right now. But we are already here, and many blockchains have already achieved great feats. Should we just throw them into the trash and obey the Bitcoin maximalists without any questions? If that is not another form of centralization, then what is?
And if we’re honest, the blockchain space is just as confused as other industries are regarding Web 3.0. Heck, even Meta’s concept of the metaverse is not yet solid; in the same vein, nobody in the blockchain space is sure about Web 3.0.
But one thing is for sure: we will not attain true centralization of the Internet if we follow only a select group of people. Let everyone build their own version of Web 3.0, and let the rest of the world choose which iteration they will adopt.
We are not there yet, and we might be miles away from it. But for now, the best thing to do is to build. Eventually, the fog will clear.