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Lessons from the World Wide Web

Looking at how the World Wide Web has evolved over the years can teach us about what pitfalls to avoid with cryptocurrencies

The World Wide Web has changed the way we as people interact, work, and go about our daily lives on a monumental level. New business giants have arisen and the internet is now an integral part of life across the globe. With the World Wide Web turning 30 this week, there are lessons that can be learned from how it has evolved over time.

Initially, the World Wide Web shared one important similarity with Bitcoin – that is, the decentralised nature that both ascertain to. The web was owned by no one. Indeed, Timothy Berners Lee ensured that he made no profit from his own creation. He saw it as too important for everyone. However, since then, the web has become dominated by a few corporations.

Google, Amazon, and Facebook are all web-based companies, and they are three of the biggest companies in the world today. Yet with Google and Facebook, you never pay for them. Instead, you release your data – your browsing habits, your likes and your dislikes, so that they can build a picture of your life and target advertising directly at you.

Whilst information has become much more widespread, legitimate news sources have remained limited. Further issues have arisen from this with the rise of conspiracy theories and “fake news”. People now do not know who or what to trust.

Issues of centralisation have already affected Bitcoin in the 10 years since its creation. Issues of mining centralisation, the NY agreement (with suggested SegWit 2x), and small cliques of experts have reduced the decentralisation of Bitcoin. There is still hope for the cryptocurrency, but for it to succeed, then decentralisation needs to be at the front and centre.

Whilst the World Wide Web has been revolutionary and continues to thrive despite the corporate nature it has succumbed to, Bitcoin cannot afford to fall into this trap. If Bitcoin is around in 30 years’ time, I hope that the decentralised ideal it was built upon remains.

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