A survey of 631 people working on projects related to the decentralized web (DWeb), Web 3.0, revealed some intriguing information on the progress being made, as well as some of the main obstacles slowing down its development.
The current World Wide Web is dominated by centralized services, such as Google, Amazon or Facebook, and is ideologically far distant from what Tim Berners Lee created in the late 1980s at CERN in Geneva.
That’s why there are many projects around the world to bring decentralization back to the core of the web, but most of them are very new, created less than 2 years ago, confirming that DWeb is still an immature and emerging sector. Moreover, to a large extent, the assumptions and motivations from which they started are mainly ideological, and not yet fully understood by generic users.
In particular, they focus mainly on privacy and data sovereignty, as well as technological resilience.
The major challenges they face are peer-to-peer connectivity and the lack of adequate technology to enable the development and deployment of a decentralized web.
In particular, the DNS with which Internet domains are managed, as well as the communication protocol and HTTP, are very limiting. There is also a lack of business models that can make projects sustainable: more than half have not yet found a way to monetize.
The two main technologies are IPFS and Ethereum, and the interest of DWeb among developers is definitely high, but the road to adoption is uphill since it also needs improvement of the basic infrastructure itself, and the comprehension of the benefits by end-users.
Actually, the very definition of DWeb is under discussion, though always focused on data sovereignty, privacy, and resistance to censorship, hence there is not a single direction in which all projects are developing.
Ideological premises are common, but the technical limitations and scarce applications for users do not currently allow to imagine a wide adoption of these technologies.
Moreover, governments and large technology companies are showing perceptible resistance to them, and will not easily give up control of the data they possess. In theory, DWeb technologies would still have the potential to replace the old centralized web, but a strong grassroots movement is required.
The most critical problem, however, remains the monetization and financing of DWeb technologies, partly because the centralized competition has enormous capital and in turn does not tolerate competition very well. Without proper monetization, DWeb projects will have immense difficulty in attracting mainstream users.