Web3 is here, and it could not be any more seamless, convenient, smooth, fairly familiar, and yet fundamentally different.
We’ll showcase the latest web3 website. PeepEth, or just peep for short. Which as the name says is like twitter, but secured on the blockchain, with the data stored in the Inter-Planetary File System (IPFS).
That makes it decentralized, and therefore you’d expect it to be a bit rubbish, with ’95 designs and dial-up speeds. But this is ethereum, where things actually work, and not just work, but are usually better than even centralized alternatives.
In the case of peep, that “better” is necessarily subjective. It is better in that you control the data, so technically there is not necessarily one peep, there can be thousands of peeps competing with each other.
While in traditional likewise services, you can’t just pack your bags and leave twitter. You’d have to start from scratch if you wished to do so.
That’s because an implicit Faustian bargain of sorts has been made between the public and the big four: Google, Facebook, Twitter and Reddit. They provide us free services, free server space, while they take from us all our knowledge and control our knowledge to a great extent.
For their proprietary close source super complex algorithms can decide what you see and what you don’t see by giving prominence to some contents while potentially not showing at all some others.
This has worked fine so far because they were new and fresh, but power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. The big four are thus now flexing their muscles.
The worst of it all here is that you don’t even know if they have abused their power. Sometime, of course, things come to the forefront, but that can be the very tip of the iceberg.
Because if their algorithm was tweaked to say give diminished visuality to crypto contents, such as Trustnodes news, there is no way to actually know they did do so because there is no way to know what you don’t see.
Our example might seem like a soft choice, but think of war and peace, think of elections, think of a revolutionary idea of the kind e puo si muove. If mainstream corporate media ignores a certain thing, if social media algo is tweaked to ignore a certain thing, then did that thing happen and would anyone know it did happen?
We’d rather not find out the answer, which is why it has now become a matter of urgency for these platforms to be turned from private corporations to public commons through a decentralized ownership of the people and their own dispersed servers.
Yet that comes at a tiny cost as the servers here are not free for the network needs to be secured and for that you need monetary incentives. A penny each, from millions, thus pays for our commons.
That’s the welcoming screen after we received an invite and the web3 backend checked we have metamask installed with some eth in it.
So now we can start the sign-up process, which isn’t really much different from any web2 sign-up, with the website responding very fast, without any errors, and generally being very usable.
We’re clearly a very early adopter. Less than 1,000 individuals signed up at this stage. That has benefits, the main one being the audience is sort of self-selective, so you’d expect them to be of higher intelligence and probably a bit cooler in some way because the September effect is far from here.
It also has potential drawbacks in that you might be investing your time in something that might not catch on, not to mention that the limited audience means limited impact, although the quality of the audience can matter in that equation.
We didn’t check what size our background image should be, so it is currently a bit blurry, but we hope they’ll forgive the pioneers.
Otherwise this is pretty straight forward as you can see, but here comes the cool bit because we’re going to do some blockchain things.
The above information is going to be saved on the blockchain, but while you might think that’s going to be a complex process requiring some coding, in fact you need do nothing more than click the metamask submit.
As you can see, this cost us 8 cent. We’re now on the blockchain somewhere, rolling in the sea of the global decentralized network.
It was pretty fast, and transferring our $5 of eth to fund metamask was also very much instant. Quite in contrast to the length of time we had to wait in BCH.
So, now all set up, we’re going to announce ourselves. That’s basically through the same sort of box as in twitter, but as this is our first peep, we have to save it on the blockchain by clicking save.
Once we do so, it very quickly saves it on IPFS first, then it asks us to choose a fee service to decide how fast we want it to be processed:
We go for the cheapest because it takes less than a minute and we can get on with other things in the meantime. While a small screen at the bottom, which we can close, tells us we are writing on the blockchain.
That’s fairly quickly done, and this is all live, with the blockchain as our witness, and IPFS as the guardian.
We encountered no errors in the process, our navigation was as fast as any website, and our peepeth now looks pretty decent:
That little rainbow down there doesn’t actually show or do anything and we have two unsaved actions. That is, we followed two people, which we saved on the blockchain by the same process of clicking save, then confirming on metamask, and paying around 3 cent for it.
Minus browsing or navigating, each action here, including replies, is secured on the blockchain and stored on IPFS, but they bundle them into 15 actions for now so you don’t have to keep doing it all the time.
One interesting aspect here is signing in through the blockchain. Something which could provide many unique capabilities, including providing somewhat easy blockchain proof for each peep and so on.
This suggests they are using payment channels of sorts, so they could bundle 100 or even 1,000 actions and for the former it would still cost only around $1.
Here we’ve signed our blockchain address, which proves that we have the private key. We’ve removed the message just in case (we’re using metamask as a sort of throwaway account in any event), but in that box there would be a random small string of numbers and letters.
Those random character thus prove we have the private key, without us actually showing the private key. Here, this isn’t used for much more, but it could have wider application.
That’s pretty much the entire process. We can now just follow others, or peep ourselves, or read other’s peeps and so on.
And in the process we can participate in this experiment. The first of its kind to have some users, where monetary incentives and disincentives are incorporated.
Whether that will lead to more quality discussions and whether it will make bots uneconomical remains to be seen. But one could say it is unlikely we’ll see here many fake re-peeps or fake followers because those pennies can add up at scale.
Making it thus an alternative, a new space with a new approach that could potentially address some of the problems that plague the web2 world.