Create the Killer App for Web3 — Economic Platform for Content Creators
It’s not enough to imagine the future with mankind’s lack of imagination, but the future has come, what should we do?
The best way to predict the future is to create it. — Abraham Lincoln
What is Web 3.0
At the 2021 U.S. Cryptocurrency Hearings, Brian Brooks officially took the term Web 3.0 from the geek community to the masses when he faced the questions from senators and answered, “How can we ensure that the Web 3.0 revolution happens in the United States and not in another country?” So what is Web 3.0? Why word “Revolution” is used for Web 3.0? Web 1.0 was the birth of the Web, and now it does seem that the word “Revolution” can be used to describe it, but Web 2.0 does not have such great significance. Why?
When it comes to Web 3.0, let’s start with the concept of Web 1.0 and 2.0. Web 1.0 refers to the first generation of the Internet, in which enterprises created Web pages to promote themselves, and consumers or users browsed the enterprise web pages to obtain their information. At that time, the Internet only served as a global promotional medium. In Web 1.0, the infrastructure (server) was centralized, and the generation of information was also centralized, as its model of liquidation was the free Internet information + advertisement.
With the development of technology, the Internet has evolved to Web 2.0. The earliest stage of Web 2.0 is the rise of blogging sites, which means the creation of content has become decentralized. Blogs are characterized by graphic creation, while the subsequent Volcano and Tik Tok are characterized by video creation. In fact, e-commerce also emerged from this stage — In Amazon, store owners decorate their own stores as dynamic web pages. Until now, social media and instant messaging systems have pushed the feature of user-generated data to the extreme. And the enterprises that provide hosting and display of this data are known as Internet platforms.
The extreme growth of Web 2.0 has brought a new problem: The problem of data ownership. In Web 1.0, information was generated by an enterprise and placed on a server paid by it, so the ownership of data naturally belongs to this enterprise. In Web 2.0, data information is generated by users and placed on the corresponding Internet platform, while storage and bandwidth are paid by the Internet platform, so disagreement has arisen over the ownership of data.
Problems with Web 2.0
Data is an individual’s asset on the Internet, and the ownership of data represents the power of the individual or the platform. However, by taking ownership of data, the Internet platform has gained more power than it deserved. Due to the globalization feature of the Internet, the Internet platform has acquired monopolistic powers.
Absolute power leads to absolute corruption. The impact of the acquisition of absolute power by the Internet platform on users arose first on the right of revenue distribution. For the Internet platforms for content creation, such as YouTube, its revenue comes mainly from adverting, while the advertisements are placed because there are a large number of media creations on the platform. So in essence, the platform should return most of the revenue to the content creators, in addition to charging reasonable development and operating fees. In practice, however, it’s entirely up to the platform to decide how much the content creators can get, while the creators have to passively accept it no matter how much the revenue is. Due to the connection feature of Internet platforms: The richer content in a platform, the more consumers will watch it; while the more consumers in a platform, the more content creators are willing to engage.
Therefore, when the platform scale gets large enough, there will be no similar competitors, so there must be a monopoly and even a global monopoly.
Internet platforms not only control the revenue of content creators but also control global speech. With the advent of Internet social platforms, tens of thousands of media around the world have slowly evolved into just a few Internet platforms, such as Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube. And these Internet social platforms will filter the speeches they don’t like exactly as they stand.
For example, the U.S. Omnimedia blocking of Trump, shows that even the president of the planet’s superpower is at the mercy of these Internet platforms. And also due to the connection feature of Internet social platforms: When a social platform has enough users, a new platform is unable to replace it. The reason is that even if all the users are willing to migrate to the new platform, these users have to re-create their relationships with friends and others on the new platform, while the additional duplication of work is unbearable for most users.
The core reason for the above problem is that the user-generated data is stored on Internet platforms, and these platforms are responsible for paying for and maintaining the data, so they naturally have the absolute right to dispose of it.
Web 3.0 is the solution to the problems faced by Web 2.0
To deconstruct power, the most direct way is to deconstruct the source of power. Therefore, to solve the problem of Web 2.0, we need to solve the problem of data ownership. There are currently two kinds of solutions to the problem of data ownership: The first is the European Data Act, which requires Internet platforms to allow users to access data as required; the other is China’s government-regulated data, which means all user data must be monitored and managed by the government. Neither of these solutions is actually feasible. There are many ways for Internet platforms to deal with the first solution: data is deleted by mistake, the server is down, the network bandwidth is insufficient, etc.; and in the second method, data is held by non-professionals, which can neither guarantee security nor make full use of the data.
As the saying goes “Pay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar — and God what belongs to God”, problems arising from technology should be solved through technological means. Since the most significant cause of Web 2.0 problems is the presence of data on the services of the Internet platform, wouldn’t it be fine for the data not to exist on their servers. This is known as the separation of ownership and discretion. When ownership and discretion are separated, the applications on existing Internet platforms can only process data and no longer have its ownership. The same data can now be processed by multiple applications, and even if one application blocks some users’ data, the users will be able to quickly switch to other applications.
So where are the user’s data stored? If it’s stored on another server, say the Amazon Web Services, wouldn’t that data be under Amazon’s control again? We need to store data on a system that is not controlled by a single organization, BT networks and IPFS are early attempts. However, there is a problem with such a system, as there is no economic incentive and voluntary contributions are entirely relied on, the total capacity, spare capacity and security of the system cannot be guaranteed, and thus the responsibility of carrying global user data cannot be achieved.
We need blockchain technology for decentralized incentives and transactions, thus giving rise to Web 3.0.
Content creator economy is the killer App for Web 3.0
The typical sign of Web 3.0 is that the ownership of data belongs to users. As discussed in the previous section, we know that Web 3.0 is to build the basic resources of Internet applications on a decentralized network, including storage, data bandwidth, business transactions and computation, and then use the basic resources to provide application services to users through a standard interface.
Web 3.0’s decoupling of the ownership and use of data, along with the decentralized transaction capabilities that will release the need for transactions isolated by existing administrative means and national borders, will lead to Web 3.0 penetrating more deeply into everyday life.
The future will always go far beyond our imagination, and the applications of Web 3.0 must also go far beyond our imagination, but the process of its development must be to first solve the existing Web 2.0 problems and then create new commercial and business models.
There are currently three main forms of Web 2.0: e-commerce, media platforms and social media. E-commerce is a bit more complicated to implement Web 3.0 since it is associated with the commodities under the Internet. Media platforms and social media applications will be the first to be empowered using decentralization, in which the empowerment of media platforms will be easier and earlier than that of social media.
Therefore, we can say that the decentralized media, i.e., the decentralized content creation platforms, will be the first Web 3.0 applications with commercial closed-loop capabilities. Compared with the existing Web 3.0 applications (e.g. DeFI, GameFI), it will fully demonstrate the advantages of Web 3.0 and allow Web 3.0 to move from the niche market of cryptocurrency and blockchain to the mass market. So the content creator economy will be the killer App for Web 3.0.
The content creator economy can include many types, such as the graphical category including Reddit and Medium, which require little storage and bandwidth traffic, but each data fragment is small and the logical relationship between each other is complicated. For the video-based content creators like YouTube and Vimeo, in addition to the complex logical relationship of the graphical category, there are also a large number of videos, which requires great amounts of storage and bandwidth traffic. There are also social media like Twitter and Facebook, where real-time capability is highly required in addition to the two mentioned above.
These different types of applications will vary in the solutions and processes that are transformed or empowered by Web 3.0. But no matter how the process goes, there is a core that cannot be abandoned, and that is the user experience.
What kind of content creator economy does the public want?
For end-users, they don’t care about the architecture solution for technology implementation. A user experience is a core of attracting users, the Web 3.0 applications with poor user experience may attract a small number of early adopters, but cannot be accepted by the public in a commercial environment.
Take the streaming media for example; NetFlix and Disney have established their own streaming media broadcast platforms. For their member subscribers, good streaming content is essential and the core focus of competition between each other. However, the basic user experiences such as how long it takes to buffer a video for the first time you open it, how long the auto-play preview will delay when you switch videos, and whether you can play HD videos smoothly have all to be up to par. If a streaming media broadcast platform is implemented on Web 3.0, at least these metrics need to reach the point of basic usability. If the user experience is severely compromised, then these Web 3.0 applications are in their early stages and cannot yet compete head-to-head with the mature streaming media platforms of Web 2.0.
However, all new technologies are gradually improved, as “no one grows fat at one sitting”. We should all remember the awful effect of camera phones in their initial phase: 200,000 pixel camera + 100,000 pixel screen. But just after a few years, it has pushed digital cameras off the pedestal.
Users can make a small number of user experience compromises for Web 3.0 applications, but not many. When Web 3.0 applications are first launched, their effectiveness and user experience will inevitably be worse than that of the mature Web 2.0 applications, so they will attract some of the early adopters. Until the user experience of Web 3.0 applications is close to that of Web 2.0, it will be accepted by the public and officially enter the maturity phase.
So how close are the current so-called Web 3.0 applications to attracting a small number of early adopters? Or what kind of Web 3.0 applications could mark the beginning of Web 3.0’s entry into the public attention?
We think it should be the closed-loop Web 3.0 application in a commercial scenario. For the content creator economy, it’s necessary to implement the complete closed-loop commercial application scenario, including content uploading and pricing by creators, content distributing and sharing through smart contracts by distributors (similar to the current streaming media distribution platform), and content purchasing and reading on the chain by consumers.
Technical conditions for decentralized content creation to implement commercial closed-loop
The closed-loop Web 3.0 applications under the commercial application scenario face the dilemma that the current Web 3.0 technology module is now immature. Taking decentralized streaming media as an example, let’s review the required parts.
- After generating the video data, it uploads the video to the decentralized storage.
- Meanwhile, it marks the way of authorization and price of this video in the smart contracts on the chain.
- Be able to set the distributor’s revenue sharing on the smart contracts of the chain.
- Agree on revenue sharing with content producers through the smart contracts.
- Read the content of producers, and reorganize data to generate the presentation.
- Open the dApp provided by the content distributor and browse from it.
- Purchase content through the smart contracts, where the purchase fee is paid partly to the content producer and partly to the content distributor, and then get the authorization certificate that this content has been purchased.
- When the consumer plays this content, prove the authorization to the decentralized content distribution network, which reads the appropriate data from the decentralized storage and then distributes it to the consumers.
From the above analysis, a decentralized video production, distribution and purchase system requires at least four technical modules:
- Blockchain: Needs to support the high-performance calling for smart contracts
- Decentralized Storage: Needs to support the reading of valid data
- Decentralized Content Distribution: Provides high read performance and authorized access control function
- Decentralized Database: Supports large amountsof structured data access, indexing and retrieval
There are currently multiple solutions for each technology module in the industry. When the most mature solution from each technology module is selected and combined into a complete application, that application represents the maturity of the current Web 3.0 industry applications. We can choose different solutions to implement the application system of the content creator economy that represents the current Web 3.0 maturity.
How to implement the applications of decentralized content creators
In the above technical conditions, the overall framework and the interfaces of non-present technical modules within the framework are implemented according to the existing decentralized technical specifications, such as pricing, distribution contracts, purchases are made through smart contracts; storage uses the zero-knowledge proof mechanism of POST, etc. Due to the low performance and efficiency of current decentralized technologies, appropriate trade-offs need to be made in the corresponding modules. For example, the implementation of smart contracts on Ethereum is very low in efficiency and high in cost, and the user experience of applications will be unacceptably poor, so you can choose to use a less decentralized public chain solution such as Solana; while the decentralized database is not yet available, you can start with a centralized database instead.
To sum up, we can create a decentralized content creator application that satisfies the commercial closed-loop and a certain user experience with the existing technology. This is used for:
- Demonstrating the commercial logic and processes of new applications after the implementation of Web 3.0.
- Verify the innovation and practical significance of the technical solutions in different technical sections.
Through the technical analysis of the industry, we choose Gauss Chain as the decentralized storage, AuroraFS as the decentralized content distribution, and SOLANA as the public chain of blockchain, and design a semi-centralized application server for data fusion and content distribution. AuroraFS will enable bridge the gap between the new public chain and Web 3.0 applications.
We named this content creator platform Web3Expo and created Git Repository for Web3Expo:
https://github.com/gauss-project/web3Expo. All implementations and updates will be synchronized in this repository. As the first release is expected in February 2022, the full-featured Web 3.0 application platform of decentralized content creation economy will be implemented and released through 3 stage process.
Gauss Aurora Lab
Gold Coast, Australia, 2022