The Internet is amazing...but not perfect
dWeb Guide: taking real steps towards a decentralised web
You’ve heard it before, but it’s worth mentioning again: the internet changed everything.
The way we shop, the way we learn, the way we engage with one another – the internet changed all of that.
The way we enjoy our free time, the way we work, the way we manage our money – yep, much different in the modern digital age.
You name it, the internet revolutionized it.
But is that it? Game over? Not by a long shot. The internet has made life much easier and much more straightforward – but we would be naïve if we started thinking it was perfect.
Let’s take something like ecommerce, for example. Once upon a time, if you wanted to buy a book, you had to actually leave your house, hop on the bus, head downtown, and step into a shop to find what you needed.
You now have a whole universe of choice at your fingertips – from niche book collections to more mainstream high street retailers.
The process is democratized, it is egalitarian, it is meritocratic – it’s everything we’ve ever hoped our shopping experience could be – and the retailers themselves get a fair deal, too.
Except... is this really true? Sure, all of that choice is there, but don’t we usually just find ourselves heading to Amazon instead? Unfortunately, in most cases, the answer is yes.
Amazon is often cheaper.
Amazon can deliver on the same day your order is placed in many cases.
You’ve heard of Amazon, so no research is required.
Amazon has what you need.
You are already locked into a subscription to Amazon
You already get your music and tv from Amazon, so you might as well...
The Amazon app is right there on your phone.
This is why Jeff Bezos is the richest person on the planet (probably the richest organism in the universe, too), and Fred and Janet from “Friendly Local Bookshop” are not.
Where the web went wrong
The true extent of centralised control
This is a very basic example – but it is an illustrative one. It shows us just how centralized the internet really is. We buy products from Amazon, we get our news from Fox or NBC – if we don’t get it through social media.
We filter our interactions through Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp – all owned by the same company.
We express ourselves through Tumblr, which is owned by the same folks who own WordPress, and through Blogspot, which is an arm of Google.
And let’s not even get started on search engines – when was the last time you used a search engine that wasn’t Google for a general query?
This is just the overt manifestation of centralized control. There are far more insidious forces at play behind the scenes, controlling and manipulating our experience of the world wide web.
Our world is just as managed and governed as ever – we simply switched out the old set of masters for some new ones.
But what if we told you it doesn’t have to be this way? What if we told you that the centralization of the internet was just a stumbling block on the way to something far better?
This is what dWeb Guide is all about.
Here at dWeb Guide we are putting together a directory of websites hosted on the decentralized web. We’ll also be providing regular blog posts, articles, and guides aimed at helping you understand the dWeb.
But, before we start with that, let’s take a little look at what the decentralized web is really all about. After all, if we are going to really get to grips with the potential of what dWeb – and, of course, dWeb Guide – can do, we need to make sure we start on the same page.
So, first things first – the decentralized web is not the dark web.
We’ve all heard scary stories about the dark web and what this means. We know about the weapons and drugs, and even more horrific things that are found there – and we know that these things are found there because governments cannot control this area of the internet, and that vendors of illegal materials cannot be traced. It’s natural, then, to assume that the decentralized is synonymous with this “dodgy” portion of the internet – but it’s not.
First of all, the dark web is not even necessarily decentralized at all. It can still be controlled and manipulated – and it almost certainly is by all kinds of unsavory organizations – it is simply encrypted.
Second, you need special browsing software to access the dark web. No such software is required to access dWeb.
This is not to say that someone might try to use the decentralized web for illegal or unethical purposes. But, its structure is geared towards positive benefits rather than the shady activity of the dark web.
And this brings us neatly to another common myth about dWeb – dWeb is not cryptocurrency.
dWeb borrows certain structural elements of a crypto network, and builds upon the decentralized technology that networks like Bitcoin introduced to the world.
However, it is wrong to say that the two terms are synonymous.
The dWeb is NOT the Dark Web
Reinventing the structure of the web
So, what exactly is this structure? And how is it so different to more familiar web set-ups?
To answer these questions, let’s first take a look at the world wide web we are already used to.
The internet we access every single day is hosted by servers. It is these servers that make all of our favorite websites accessible to us – not to mention the emails, cloud storage, and applications that we use regularly.
Now, before we reach for the tinfoil hats, there is no overarching global conspiracy controlling these servers.
However, these servers are owned by a small number of super-rich organizations who, ultimately, wield a great deal of power over our browsing habits.
This is where centralization begins to become a problem – the internet we rely upon is not strictly “free.” How can we trust a system that is governed by these vast entities with their economic and political agendas? Can we really rely on the powers that be to protect our interests online, and not to mold our browsing experience to their own ends?
No. No we cannot. So, what’s the alternative? Peer to peer – or P2P – networks.
Picture a small group of computers – let’s say two or three – sharing their computing resources and storage capabilities. This is a small-scale P2P network. Next, let’s add more computers to this system, and put in place the software and protocols to manage these connections.
This, essentially, is the basis for the dWeb. Where once there were only vast servers owned, operated, and controlled by the internet’s big boys and girls, now there is the potential for something different. There is the potential for a vast network of interconnected nodes, each providing their own portion of computing power, immune from corporate of political control.
Take a look at our logo, and you’ll see what we mean. We are represented by a symbol of the jellyfish – a living, thriving organism, but an organism with no central nervous system controlling its body and movements.
It is, in effect, a decentralized species, and this is the future we want for the internet.
The word “node” is important here, too. You will recognize this term from the lexicon of cryptocurrencies, as the computing devices that drive the network. The concept here is much the same.
P2P: Revolutionalising how we approach the internet
The future is here:
This is where dWeb Guide comes in. We want to make this exciting technology accessible to all. Navigating the decentralized web can sometimes feel like being up the proverbial creek without the proverbial paddle.
Well, we want to provide that paddle, and more – we want to provide an all-inclusive package tour that you can really immerse yourself in. This means guiding you with handy articles and guides, and also providing the world’s best directory of dWeb locations – including decentralized apps, websites, finance networks, and more.
But why are we doing this? The internet is working just fine as it is, right?
Well, maybe for a lot of things, it is. But for other things – very important things – the current situation is dangerous.
What about the people who live in oppressive regimes and have their every word and action analyzed? What about the people who are suddenly finding themselves deplatformed because they fell foul of the powers that be at Twitter or YouTube? What about the people who have their assets and bank accounts frozen because they didn’t play ball? What about the people who have their data harvested and sold for big bucks by mega-corporations? What about the people whose small businesses are being crushed by corporate dominance?
For all of these people – and there is a good chance that you yourself fall into one or more of these categories – the dWeb could change everything.
The decentralized web – and all the potential it offers – awaits. We hope you can join us.