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How the Decentralized Cloud Could Transform the Internet

by Stephen Young

November 23, 2020

Blockchain has already delivered many transformative technologies. First it gave us decentralized money with Bitcoin, then it gave us decentralized finance which is largely, although not exclusively, conducted on the Ethereum blockchain. Now it is set to usher in the decentralized cloud, which could reshape the face of the internet as we know it.

Although much of the evolution of the internet has been gradual, there are some changes that have been so profound that we can draw a clear line between what came before and what came after. Such is the case with the emergence of social media and social engagement which supplanted the far more passive ‘web surfing’ experience of the early 90s. Now, we are on the precipice of another significant shift. This time it may not just be people who will interact with the internet in new and exciting ways, but our computers too.

The Background

The first iteration of the internet is often dubbed the ‘read-only web’. This was an internet that was largely passive in execution and implementation, where content was built by a tiny minority of web developers and the vast bulk of users consumed information rather than becoming involved in its creation. In this iteration of the web brick and mortar stores created websites mostly to encourage people to visit their premises in person. eCommerce was often an afterthought, and online advertising was new and novel, with the first online advert enjoying clickthrough rates of 44%.

The next evolution of the internet came with the rise of social media. This version of the web was far more interactive, and ordinary internet users became by far and away the biggest content creators online. Where the first iteration of the net could be described as the ‘read-only web’ this modern internet was the ‘read-write web’ or sometimes the Web 2.0. For considerable time this Web 2.0 has been the prevailing version of the internet that we have all become deeply familiar with. In it, advertising is far more ubiquitous, but holds far less impact than it did before.

The Shape of Web 3.0

The next great internet epoch may change not only how humans interact with it, but how our machines interact as well. Gather is a blockchain company promoting its vision of the next web, using decentralized cloud computing to monetize websites without the need for advertising. On Gather-enabled websites, content creators continue to play their craft as before, but visitors can choose to opt-in and lend the spare processing power of their system to cloud computing services. In return for participation both the content creator and the content consumer are rewarded in the form of tokens.

While Bitcoin ushered in decentralized money, and Ethereum decentralized finance, Gather is attempting to auger in decentralized cloud computing and a new means of monetizing the web without advertising. It's an idea that certainly seems to be gaining traction with 200 companies already signed up, including one $4 billion dollar mega corporation. The exact shape of the Web 3.0 is yet to be known, but having already changed the face of money and financial services, the prospect of blockchain being at the forefront of another great technological advancement certainly seems possible.