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The Evolution of the Internet: From Web1 to Web3 with Elastos at the Forefront
Web1, the “Institutional Web,” was the early internet, featuring static web pages and one-way information flow from institutions to users. Web2, the “Oligarchic Web,” introduced user-generated content, interactivity, and social networking through platforms like Facebook and YouTube. Web3, known as the “Semantic Web” or “Personal Web,” envisions a future where machines understand and interconnect information, enabling highly personalized and intelligent services via technologies such as AI and IoT. As Elastos Founder Rong Chen tweeted,
#Web1 nodes are typically operated by institutions.
#Web2 nodes are often controlled by oligarchs.
#Web3 nodes are PCs left on 24/7 at home.
This succinctly captures how internet infrastructure has shifted along with changing power dynamics. Elastos is at the forefront of the internet’s transformation from Web1 to Web3, representing the evolution of the internet’s infrastructure.
Elastos empowers users with self-sovereign identity, decentralized storage, encrypted messaging, and scalability. This infrastructure enables the creation of decentralized applications (dApps) and aligns with the user-centric vision of Web3. Beyond its core components, Elastos envisions a future where users can establish micro websites and cyber storefronts, epitomizing the Web3 ideal where individuals and businesses have greater control over their online presence and digital destiny.
Web1: The Institutional Internet
The early internet of the 1990s took shape across government agencies, research institutions, and large corporations. Websites were largely static brochures, generated by institutions for one-way informational distribution. Individual users had little influence over content or infrastructure.
Government bodies like the U.S. military were primary developers of early networking technologies like ARPANET. Academics spearheaded sites for knowledge sharing among researchers. Large media outlets launched websites as extensions of their centralized information distribution.
This institutional Web1 gave elite organizations outsized control over online interactions. They operated massive centralized server farms while individuals accessed the web primarily through institutional terminals like libraries or campus computer labs. Policies and cultural norms heavily restricted individual content creation.
Web2: The Oligarchic Internet
Web2 emerged with a promise to distribute power by putting publishing and communication tools into every user’s hands. Platforms flourished with individual participation, creativity, and connection. However, as the tech industry grew, early online pioneers gave way to increasingly centralized oligarchic tech giants like Google, Facebook, Amazon, Apple, and Microsoft.
Rather than dispersing influence, platforms like Facebook and Twitter became massive walled gardens where user-created value was extracted for corporate gain. The boundaries between media outlets and tech companies blurred into new consolidated information regimes.
The paradox of Web2 was its transformation: from a tool promising empowerment to a system commodifying user engagement for the benefit of a few digital oligarchs. Even innovations like smartphones, intended to further decentralize access, inadvertently amplified the reach of these tech giants. Despite its groundbreaking advancements, Web2 inadvertently birthed a new era of digital monopolies.
Web3: The Personal Internet
Web3 stands on the brink of a technological revolution, poised to decentralize the online power dynamics that have historically favored institutions and tech oligarchies. Central to this shift are innovations like blockchains, cryptocurrencies, and tokenization that promise to redefine online ownership and control.
Where Web1 and Web2 largely relied on centralized nodes driven by corporate entities, Web3 is built around nodes hosted on millions of personal devices in homes across the world. Instead of passively participating in platforms like Facebook, users are the true architect of their own digital spaces. Ownership and control of digital assets are managed via the decentralized technologies rather than centralized servers.
Web3 represents a profoundly personal internet where users command their own online experiences. Rather than residing in oligarchic walled gardens, power and agency are pushed back to the edges among ordinary users.
Of course, realizing this vision requires overcoming complex barriers around scalability, security, regulation, and more. Many past decentralization efforts failed to account for the tendency to reconsolidate power. However, Web3 offers hope of recapturing the original internet spirit: distributing influence among common users.
Elastos: The User-Controlled Internet
Elastos empowers users to monetize their data and digital assets, emphasizing the shift from passive ownership to active profit generation. This key aspect aligns with the broader Web3 goal of granting users agency and control over their online activities.
Elastos’ core philosophy revolves around decentralization and digital sovereignty, and its adoption of Decentralized Identifier (DID) technology is central to achieving this vision. DID technology fundamentally reshapes the way Know Your Customer (KYC) processes are conducted, creating a user-centric and privacy-focused approach. With Elastos DID, individuals have full ownership and control of their digital identities.
Users can selectively share only the necessary attributes for verification, minimizing the exposure of sensitive personal data. This not only enhances privacy but also reduces the risk of identity theft and misuse. Verifiable Credentials, a key service of DID, allow users to securely store digital proofs of their attributes and qualifications, which can be issued by trusted entities. This further streamlines KYC, making it a more efficient and secure process.
Moreover, Elastos DID effectively bridges the gap between the physical and digital realms. Users can link their digital identities to real-world credentials like driver’s licenses or diplomas, providing a robust connection between their online and offline personas. When they need to prove their identity, these Verifiable Credentials can be presented, ensuring that the digital identity remains rooted in real-world authenticity.
In essence, Elastos DID marries the real world and the digital space, fostering trust and security in online interactions while preserving individual control over personal information.
Decentralized Storage Solution
Hive, as a decentralized storage technology, addresses a pivotal challenge in today’s internet landscape by fundamentally changing how data is stored and accessed. With Hive, users have the autonomy to select and deploy their preferred Hive nodes for secure data storage.
HiveHub exemplifies this decentralized storage revolution within the Elastos ecosystem. It offers users a comprehensive solution, allowing them to create Vaults on their chosen Hive nodes, register these nodes as NFTs, and back up or migrate their data. This approach embodies true data sovereignty for users and it fosters a community-driven economy, enabling users to profit by sharing their storage resources.
As Hive and platforms like HiveHub continue to evolve, they demonstrate the potential of decentralized storage to liberate data from centralized control, enhance security, and empower users to shape the future of the internet. This shift towards user-centric storage solutions marks a significant step towards a more resilient and equitable digital landscape.
Elastos enhances user privacy and control through encrypted peer-to-peer messaging with Elastos Carrier. This feature not only enhances privacy but also empowers secure communication, giving users more control over their online interactions.
Acting as the linchpin in Carrier’s decentralized infrastructure, the Active Proxy service enables users to host personal websites, apps, and services on their home WiFi networks while maintaining privacy and control. It leverages Carrier Super Nodes for reliability and trust, allowing individuals to announce their services globally and achieve true data ownership.
Active Proxy combines the convenience of mainstream hosting with the benefits of privacy and decentralization, ensuring data remains private on users’ hardware while accessible from anywhere.
Mainchain-sidechain Structure With Scalability
Elastos employs a mainchain-sidechain structure, with the added security benefit of being protected by the Bitcoin blockchain through merged mining. This unique approach combines scalability and security efficiently. Scalability is achieved by enabling parallel processing on independent sidechains, allowing for high transaction throughput and customization for specific use cases, all while minimizing the risk of network congestion.
Meanwhile, the security of Elastos is enhanced by the isolation of sidechains from the mainchain, ensuring that any security breaches on a sidechain do not compromise the entire network. The reduced attack surface, support for various consensus mechanisms, and the ability to implement data privacy features further bolster security.
With the added protection of Bitcoin’s mining power, Elastos’ mainchain-sidechain architecture strikes a robust balance between scalability and security, making it a trusted platform for dApps.
DRM to Monetize Your Data
Digital Rights Management (DRM) is a critical technology for protecting intellectual property in the digital age. It plays a pivotal role in safeguarding the rights of content creators by controlling access to and usage of their digital assets. However, DRM has often been criticized for potentially limiting consumer rights and stifling innovation.
Elacity, through its innovative approach, is addressing these concerns and working towards a balanced solution. By combining DRM with Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs), Elacity aims to provide content creators with comprehensive tools to protect and monetize their digital assets effectively. This integration enables creators to maintain ownership rights while ensuring that their content is used and distributed in a controlled and authorized manner.
Elacity’s open-sourced approach and commitment to DRM technology will significantly empower artists, musicians, and other content creators in the digital landscape, ultimately leading to greater creative freedom and financial independence. With this approach, Elacity is poised to shape the future of digital content creation, distribution, and monetization in a way that benefits both creators and consumers.
Elastos Micro Websites
The Elastos tech stack offers individuals and businesses the opportunity to easily build and manage their own personal or micro websites with a range of advantages. A decentralized website constructed using Elastos technology can be exemplified by an e-commerce platform, or personal blog, etc. This platform enables individuals and small enterprises to directly offer their goods to consumers, bypassing middlemen. The decentralized micro website offers numerous benefits:
1) Peer-to-Peer Interactions: One of the key components facilitating this is Carrier, a proprietary permissionless network that efficiently manages traffic between personal nodes. This means that users can establish direct connections with their personal websites, enhancing reliability and reducing latency.
2) Decentralized Storage: Hive, another integral part of the Elastos stack, offers reliable storage Vaults to all users, ensuring that data, media, and other content are readily accessible.
3) Secure & Tamper-Proof: Any data/transactions on decentralized websites are immutable by leveragint blockchain technology. Once a transaction happens , it cannot be changed.
4) Scalable Automation Tools: The Elastos Smart Contract (ESC) sidechain further enhances the stack’s capabilities by providing scalable automation tools, making website building and management more accessible and efficient. Through Elastos dApps, businesses can automate tasks such as transactions, taxes, and payroll, streamlining their operations.
5) Integrated Cryptocurrency Transactions: The Essentials wallet supports multiple cryptocurrencies and blockchains, providing users with an all-in-one solution for managing their digital assets and conducting transactions securely.
6) Self-Sovereign Identity: With Elastos DIDs, individuals can establish trust and prove their identity, offering an extra layer of security and transparency.
7) Decentralized Domain Names: Elastos micro websites come with decentralized domain systems, ensuring that domain names are owned and controlled by the user, rather than a centralized domain registrar.
8) Digital Rights Management: DRM in Elastos micro websites ensures content security and tamper-proofing, safeguarding digital assets. It enables creators to control access and automate transactions, enhancing content monetization.
In summary, the Elastos tech stack’s components collectively contribute to an ecosystem that simplifies website creation, hosting, and management, all while offering greater control, security, and automation capabilities to individuals and small businesses looking to establish their online presence.
The internet’s evolution reflects power shifts. Web1 mirrored mass media gatekeeping. Web2 centralized power. Web3, like Elastos, aims for personal influence. It balances decentralization and capitalism.
Elastos empowers users through DID, storage, and connectivity. It embodies Web3’s mission: user control, data monetization, and decentralized commerce. It’s a promising platform for the Web3 era, where power resides with users, not institutions or oligarchies.