The Web Without Ads: A Web 3.0 Funding Model that Values People More than Attention

Humanity has been graced with The Internet for a few decades now. It seems as if we as a society are asking ourselves the question, “Are we better off now than we were before” with regards to the conectedness (or lack thereof) brought on by the Internet we know today.

In Digital Capitalism, a Sam Harris podcast interview with Douglas Rushkoff, best-selling author and technology/media theorist, the case is made that the economics and incentives driving the internet are fundamentally flawed.

Web 2.0 services are almost completely funded by paid advertising in a model where more attention = more profit. Therefore, the incentive for multi-billion dollar tech giants is to make their products addicting and turn their “customers” into addicts; which brings an eerie new meaning to the software development term for “users”.

Loneliness, depression, anxiety, laziness, sleep disorders, and filter bubbles — this is what the current model has caused for millions of individuals. Where is the Cyber-Utopia we were promised? Thanks to the ubiquity of technology and internet access we have today, there is a better way!

While none of these problems will go away over night, the next generation of Internet seems to be a step in the right direction. A Web 3.0 built with decentralized technologies shows promises of eliminating the systemic downsides of Web 2.0 and it all starts with how Web 3.0 services get paid.

A Proposed Web 3.0 Funding Model

Micro-payments. Hold on, don’t click away yet! I’m not saying that you should have to pay a fraction of a cent to read this blog post. What I’m saying is that you should become a partial owner of the internet as a whole, and as such, earn your right to use it as you please.

Let me explain…

Projects like the Inter-Planetary File System (IPFS) and Storj are building the backbone for a decentralized Web 3.0. Both projects are abandoning the client-server model in favor of a peer-to-peer file storage protocol. Anyone in the world with an internet connection can rent free space on their hard-drive to the network and be compensated in a cryptocurrency token.

Distributed cloud storage projects make a lot of economical sense. In this model, the content we access on the web is not housed in a multi-million-dollar data center with paid 24/7 security guards and a $1M/day bandwidth bill. Instead, it lives in people’s homes, encrypted, and stored with redundancy, using people’s extra bandwidth that they’re already paying for.

Now imagine if you’re new Web 3.0 capable router had a few terabytes of free space onboard. Plug it in, stuff it in your closet and forget about it. Every day, it earns Internet Access Tokens for storing and serving up the bits of data that make up the content on Web 3.0. You’re Web 3.0 browser keeps track of your Internet Access Token balance and sends micro-payments to the services you use as you browse the web.

This model puts the control in the consumer’s hands and lays the groundwork for a internet where value added is rewarded more than attention stolen. It maintains the set-it-and-forget-it user experience of web 2.0 as well as the convenience of the free-to-use model we’re used to.


What I Tell Crypto Non-Believers

We’ve seen this before

When a revolutionary technology comes around, it’s easy to get caught up in the hype without really understanding what the fundamental disruption really is.

I saw this happen in the dotcom boom when anyone with a website claiming to be a company got showered with money from investors. The investors and entrepreneurs who won after the crash were the ones who understood what the internet really did that could have never been done before.

The internet provided a new information exchange. For the first time ever, anyone with a connection could send and access information globally.

I saw a similar play happen with “crypto-mania” in late 2017. It seemed that anyone with a whitepaper and an ICO could rake in at least $1M USD. There’s the Useless Ethereum Token and, of course, Dogecoin.

I believe the fundamental disruption of cryptocurrency is that for the first time ever, we have a value store that is both digital and scarce.

What do I mean by this?

chart showing how bitcoin compares to gold and cash

Well, before, we had a currency like gold. Gold is scarce – there’s only so much of it on the planet – but it is clunky and not easy to trade around. Imagine mailing Netflix $10 in gold coins every month.

Of course, this is why we have fiat currency or dollars. Dollars are great because we can carry lots of them in our pockets and banks can even digitize them so paying for Netflix (and that gym membership) happens automatically each month.

But dollars are not scarce, the Federal Reserve can always make more. There’s nothing wrong with this – in fact, it causes healthy inflation. This is just one of the inherent properties of fiat.

A cryptocurrency like Bitcoin is scarce – based on math and cryptography, we know that there will never be more than 21 Million BTC in existence. Bitcoin is also fundamentally digitalin fact, it’s programmable.

Just like gold and cash have different properties, so does a new class of currency like Bitcoin.

With a cryptocurrency, not only could you pay for Netflix, but your self-driving car could earn it by delivering take-out and use it to pay for gas on your behalf.

The simple truth is that nobody can “un-invent” cryptocurrency. It’s already here and millions of smart driven people are figuring out how it will fit into your daily life.

What do you think? Will there be another crypto-mania? Or have we seen the last of crypto for a long, long while?