If you believe in the power of Open Source software licenses like the GPL, you need to understand how Web3 is an exponential (r)evolution in open source and will accelerate innovation to mind-bending speeds!
First a Primer
Open source has been incredibly disruptive in the growth of tech. It powers the web, cloud, and so much more. Vast ecosystems and communities are built around OSS (Open Source Software) projects. It speeds innovation as code can be modified or extended to quickly create novel solutions and apps.
OSS empowers creators to own their own content and data. Instead of creating on Facebook or YouTube, you can install software like WordPress to easily build and run your own site. In fact the mission of WordPress is to “Democratize Publishing”. Yet most sell out and give their data to big tech!
Data is more important than software. Whoever owns the data wins; The money and network effects from data ownership prevent competition and innovation. Some innovation can happen on top of them, but only to the extent they allow with their APIs and Terms of Service. I’ve been a developer long enough that I’ve had to scramble to rearchitect and even retire social plugins that were broken or neutered by changes in Facebook and Twitter APIs. Building a business on the API to centralized data silos is dangerous business!
How can Web3 fix our data problem?
Open Source Data
In Web3, data is on the blockchain decentralized and permissionless. Anyone can build apps that read or write to that data. There are no gatekeepers or censors that can change the API or block access. So developers can extend and build on not just code, but data. This means that Web3 apps can inherit the power and network effects of existing data! This is as new and revolutionary a concept as Open Source Software was when it was first introduced.
For example, BuddyPress is an OSS social media plugin built on WordPress. While the ability to run your own Facebook seems like a great idea, it has never grown to more than a niche product because social media is much more about the community network effects than it is about the software. A new social network can only succeed if it can get enough of one’s network to adopt it. And as the Facebooks and Twitters of the world gain more power and money as their data grows, they can afford to acquire or copycat any potential competitor into oblivion, stifling innovation and competition.
Web3 is solving this with new blockchains designed for social like DeSo. Imagine a decentralized social network where anyone can build an app on it permissionlessly integrating with the data. A whole ecosystem of apps like BitClout & Diamond are already being built on it.
It’s not just social though… let’s look at another practical example.
As the popularity of NFTs explodes, anyone can create marketplaces or minting tools like OpenSea, Rarible, etc by simply forking their smart contracts. Because they all share the same blockchain source of data, digital assets, and users, your new marketplace can list every NFT, wallet, and user ever created by those competitors out of the box.
Imagine what you could build if you could fork not only Facebook’s software, but their data and users. Exponential innovation! This puts the power of data back into the hands of user’s and creators. If an app behaves badly or makes choices they don’t like, they can easily vote with their feet to the next app that builds a better product on that open data.
In Web3 “any piece from any other app can plug into any other app permissionlessly…it’s almost like building a civilization or city of interconnected apps, instead of these silos in which the data’s not portable, the code isn’t portable, users aren’t portable” – @naval
“Composability is to software as compounding interest is to finance. It’s sort of this magical thing where if you get it going, it has a sort of exponential hockey stick.” – @cdixon. Nowhere are we seeing this exponential growth more than the wild west of DeFi.
Innovative “Decentralized Finance” protocols are launching weekly attracting billions of dollars in investment. They are composed of novel combinations of other DeFi apps, generating new and efficient ways of generating passive income via lend, borrow, trade, arbitrage, and tokenomics.
“Composability leads inevitably toward more choice, and better user experiences, because there are no obstacles to someone taking an existing idea and making it easier to use, or adapting it to new use cases.” – @ljxie. Web3 enables the open-sourcing of APIs. No more data silos.
Decentralized Identity (DID)
Privacy & security has become one of the biggest problems of the web. Our identity and credentials are splintered across a thousand apps, and each owns our data. Passwords are beyond broken.
What if you had ONE identity and credentials for the web THAT YOU OWN?
Web3 enables this by giving everyone a private/public keypair. This key lets you securely login to any site and interact with any app without registering, maintaining a new password, or giving up more data than desired. If you’ve used any dApps in the world of Web3 you’ve already felt this power!
With DID you control what data to share. You can have multiple IDs, anonymous IDs, etc. And with Verified Credentials, you can for example prove that you are over 21 without revealing your birthdate. Or perform KYC (Know Your Customer) verification for a financial app without actually giving them your details, only a cryptographic signature proving that you pass. Some leaders in this space are ENS Domains, Identity, and ION.
Think how much faster open source innovation can happen when Identity and Authorization are decentralized, managed by the user, and shared across all apps! All while maintaining privacy and user ownership of their data. Another pain-point for devs and users removed by Web3.
I hope it’s now clear to you how Web3 is unlocking a revolution in Open Source via:
- Open Data
- True Composability
- Decentralized Identity
If you want to know more follow @web3wp as we explore leveraging Web3 for WordPress & Open Source.