The Next Generation of the Web
March 1st 2022

The following is my opinion on what the coming generation of web technologies will offer to humanity.

The story of the next generation of the web is ownership — more specifically, individual ownership over monetization & distribution.

The architecture of the web is best understood as a stack. At the base layer is physical infrastructure — the literal metallic material which transmits electrical signals. Above the physical layer is a layer which routes digital packets from source to destination. Above the routing layer is a layer of applications — a generic space where builders can build any number of solutions.

  1. Physical infrastructure
  2. Routing infrastructure
  3. Applications

(This is a significant simplification to illustrate a point)

Couple layer (3) with the graphical user interface (GUI) and suddenly internet-connected products can be understood and used by three year olds. This is the power of abstraction. Through abstraction, a person who is not versed in any level of computer science, can harness seemingly magical powers. Abstraction, in this context, is a powerful concept which enables mass proliferation of personal computers. However, the abstraction comes at a cost.

The root problem with the current web is how disempowering it is for the average individual to possess ownership over their monetization & distribution.

  1. Monetization: ownership over the revenue stream
  2. Distribution: ownership over the delivery mechanism

Say it with me, “👆 monetization, ✌️ distribution” — this is what it is all about.

In today’s web, nothing is stopping any individual from owning their monetization & distribution — the tech is all there, but it’s only reasonably attainable by people interested in software engineering.

To prove a point, consider the web used by individuals for...

Every one of the above examples — of which there are thousands more — empowers the individual to create value but leaves their monetization & distribution at the mercy of the platform (the application layer). What if Etsy no longer finds your products politically acceptable? What happens if Slack doesn’t approve of your business? What if YouTube decides to take 60% of your advertising revenue?

The individual has accepted a staggering amount of costly counter party risk.

Again, this doesn’t have to be the case because of any technological limitations. The limitation is accessibility to the average digital user. Graphical user interfaces (GUIs) made personal computing accessible to the masses by lowering the hurdle to entry, and the next generation of the web will yield solutions which empower the individual to access maximum ownership over their monetization & distribution.

For monetization the beginning, middle and end of the story is Bitcoin, and more specifically the Lightning Network. With BTC, web users can possess complete ownership over their revenue stream. For example, rather than YouTube seizing 45% of content creators advertising revenue, the user can capture the full 100%. Rather than users being at the mercy of the predetermined revenue models offered by third-party platforms, users can create any revenue model they can imagine. It’s difficult to fathom all the ways in which BTC will totally change the experience on the web.

For distribution I don’t know what the solution is yet. Imagine, for a moment, you are at a coffee shop with a friend. And now imagine a middleman between you and your friend, and the middleman owns the air. This middleman could use his ownership over the air to intercept your vocal vibrations and charge you a fee to deliver your words. Worse yet, the middleman may disagree with your words and manipulate them or censor your words altogether. Roughly speaking, this is how people interact with one another over today’s web, and for what I hope are obvious reasons, this is entirely unacceptable. The middlemen of the web are in a position to extract rent and censor traffic. For the next generation of the web, this “middleman” is going away.

I will reiterate one final time — the tech all exists today, it’s just not accessible. I’m reminded of a quote, “the future is here, it’s just not evenly distributed.”