The decentralized web has become famous due to HBO’s Silicon Valley TV show; which highlights the hilarious comedy and grilling drama of nerds coding out the future of the internet.
But for all of us who are not programmers, what does ‘decentralized web’ mean? What’s the difference between that and the other thing?
The difference is living at home and being treated like a kid, and living on your own and being an adult.
This comes with benefits though. If you forgot your keys or got locked out of the house, they can open the door for you. But as you might guess, if they are able to open the door, then they are also able to go into your room at anytime and snoop around. Worse, if you do not trust your roommates, they can steal your stuff and sell it to creepers.
With decentralization, or Pied Piper's “New Internet", you get the freedom of living on your own. What this means is that when you invite somebody back to your apartment, you have no roommates to deal with. And when you go into your room and lock the door, nobody can peep on you.
Having ownership of your own stuff is something a lot of people want. But it also comes with problems. If you forget your keys or get locked out of your car, you’ll probably be spending the next several hours trying to get back in. That can be a hassle. Also, if you lose your wallet or phone, your security might be in danger.
So let’s talk about that for a minute.
The decentralized web has to use military grade technology to protect you.
If you live at home, maybe you trust the apartment complex to keep things safe for you. But if you live on your own, you may want to have a bike lock and pepper spray.
It turns out, centralized websites like Facebook and others, use “fake security”. And that is why you hear about your data getting hacked and your passwords getting leaked on the news a lot.
The decentralized internet has to use real security. Imagine you are James Bond, and you need to send a secret message — would you use Facebook Messenger or WeChat? No.
One final note. Google, Facebook, WeChat, and others claim your data is encrypted — it is, but with their keys! Google has almost 100,000 employees! That is a lot of roommates to share a house with, let alone strangers they have over. So when we are talking about encryption, we mean end-to-end encryption, that nobody has a key except for you and the end person you are chatting with.
If you choose to go the James Bond route, you and your friend have to both be online to give each other keys. This only has to happen once, and can be done automatically, but it does mean that either you or your friend may have to wait at first. You also must do this over the decentralized web so it stays secure, not through Facebook or Amazon’s, etc., servers.
On the flip side, if you live at home, at least you’ll be treated like a kid. We do not recommend it, but it has some conveniences — Facebook can open the door for your friends, even if you are not around. This certainly has benefits, but not enough to be worth it.
Because again, that ultimately means they will also overhear and eavesdrop on your conversations — and per their business model, sell that to advertisers.
At the end of the day, the decentralized web won’t look much different from what you already know and are you used to. It is just that they have very different values.
One is more free, and the other requires less control. Some people don’t like having control, but we believe you should at least have an alternative option to living at home: to be on your own, if you so choose.