I often read tweets or articles against Web3 where people talk about the huge energy consumption of Web3 (it will kill the planet), or about overcomplicated architectures for non-existent problems. I think the root of this huge hate of Web3 technologies is a common misconception of Web3.
Web3 is not about blockchain or decentralization. It is about the democratization of the web, and this is often forgotten also by Web3 developers…
Blockchain and decentralized architectures are tools for this democratization, and yes, Proof of Work blockchains, like Bitcoin have huge energy consumption, and depending on the energy source, they also have a huge carbon footprint which is bad. It always makes me frustrated when I think about that huge computing capacity that these PoW networks burn. Human kind has many problems that could be solved by huge computing capacity. Those GPUs could search for the cure of cancer or the best architecture for a fusion reactor, or train better AIs instead of guarding a trustless ledger.
But PoW is only one way of reaching consensus. There are PoS, PoA, PoH, and other non-mining PoX consensus mechanisms that don’t need supercomputers and power plants. These nodes can run on a simple PC or on an IoT device with minimum energy consumption. New blockchains like Solana or Polygon do have not much more consumption than a centralized system.
Another typical argument is that these decentralized systems are not really decentralized. For example, most Ethereum users use it through Metamask or other centralized systems. Yes, it’s true. But why is it a problem? The point is not the direct p2p connection. The point is that you have the opportunity to change your provider any time or run your own node in the cloud, in your home, or wherever you want.
A decentralized Uber, Airbnb, or decentralized Facebook doesn’t require a direct p2p network where everybody runs their own node. A DAO that runs a very similar architecture that the existing companies run is a good example. The service itself doesn’t require blockchain or magical decentralized protocols. It is the same old “web2 style” cloud architecture, but it is driven by a DAO. And this is the point. Users can make their own decisions about the platform development, monetization, etc. And what if you don’t agree with the others? No problem, you can fork the whole system, deploy your own DAO and start your very own Facebook 2.0 or whatever.
Democracy and free choices, this is web3.