The web revolution has changed many things in our lives, and with the mushrooming of online establishments, people are able to do what was impossible before the internet era. With the introduction of the blockchain technology, the internet is poised to get even better.
Today, we depend on web masters to get access to various online stuff such as shopping and entertainment. However, blockchain enthusiasts believe that decentralization could improve web experience greatly, especially at the individual level. If the web giants adopt the blockchain concept of decentralization, it will lead to a completely new platform.
The current web platform operates as one entity, with a site and its database combined. In a decentralized situation, the database will not belong to its creators. Instead, it will belong to a community, which can come up with multiple business models in addition to the database.
If the blockchain technology was available from the beginning of the internet era, it would be possible to create social media profiles as early as 2003, when Friendster was available. Even with the coming along of MySpace, it would not be necessary to create a new profile. Instead, users would just give MySpace, Facebook, or any other social media site, the permission to access the account they had already created on Friendster.
Obviously, every new account would bring in new features and ways of interacting, but as a user, you would not need to start over, which could lead to loss of friends from other sites or content created on previous sites. With such advantages at stake in the current web platform, entrepreneurs and various investors agree that the blockchain technology can bring a complete turnover through decentralization.
Web “3.0” is looming
Entrepreneurs and investors can commit capital to a decentralized web platform through ICOs and traditional venture capital. ICOs provide a new dimension of fundraising for blockchain startups. It is also a tool for users to interact with the distributed networks. These possibilities point to the growth of a new web version. With this in mind, the following web giants may have to adopt the blockchain technology to allow startups to get a market share through crypto tokens.
eBay is one of the major e-commerce outlets. In the early days of the web, other sites also existed, which offered specific products such as comic books, on which sellers could sell directly to buyers without involving a third party. Focused marketplaces often strive to provide the best customer experience as part of their customer-client relationship. Even so, eBay, with its wide array of multiple products, proved that wrong.
eBay made it possible to sell both comic books and bicycle parts together on one site, with the idea that a customer might come for one and end up with both products. In addition, it would be easier for buyers to remember one site with different products than to remember different platforms offering different products.
While you cannot stop a seller from putting a product on both a specialized and a general site like eBay, it calls for complicated software to ensure that one product is not sold twice. That was one of the drawbacks of eBay.
The Blockchain intervention
Imagine a situation in which customers have both products on the same database. In that situation, the comic books and the other products would co-exist on one database, but with different websites built around them. This could lead to lead to product listing in various marketplaces. If a product sells in one marketplace, all other marketplaces would register it as sold.
That is what blockchain technology can achieve for major e-commerce outlets such as eBay or Amazon. One company, Listia, is already experimenting with a decentralized version of eBay, using what they call Ink Protocol.
The Ink Protocol
“Ink Protocol’s vision is to decentralize peer-to-peer marketplaces, taking the power away from the companies that run them and giving it back to the buyers and sellers. As a result, more value is distributed back to the actual user,” says Gee Chuang, the CEO of Listia.
To establish this system, Listia aims to release 15 million-dollar worth of crypto tokens to the market, from January 29, 2018. The company will also reward early users of its present marketplace where users already earn tokens based on their peer-to-peer trading. When the blockchain network launches, the credits will convert into crypto tokens.
According to Chuang, a decentralized marketplace brings many benefits. “Sellers in decentralized marketplaces have the freedom to use any platform they like at any time while bringing that hard-earned reputation with them everywhere they go.”
YouTube is the primary platform for sharing and searching for video content. While it is a great resource for both aspiring and existing content creators, there is a growing tension between the creators and the administrators. Content creators on YouTube suffer because the administrators of the platform reduce the revenue share with the original creators. Besides, they use automation to pull advertisements at their discretion. At the same time, consumers complain about the site having too many advertisements in general.
How will decentralization help?
With the establishment of the blockchain technology, many upcoming startups believe that decentralization will enable a seamless interaction between the content creators and their audiences, by utilizing crypto tokens. In addition, users will explore various choices of making money from their attention such as viewing the ads, offering personal information, or contributing part of their computing power to operate the network.
According to Adrian Garelik, CEO of Flixxo, “Bittorrent—with more than 250 million users worldwide—has been proven to be capable of delivering good quality content in a decentralized and compelling manner.” Flixxo completed its ICO in November 2017.
Since its release in 2001, Bittorrent operates by connecting users to copies of content available in other people’s devices, instead of a centralized server network. Besides, Garelik foresees making the torrent network more vigorous by rewarding content hosts through cryptocurrency.
“By creating this incentivized network, any kind of content could be distributed in a peer-to-peer fashion, with a lot of monetization possibilities,” says Garelik.
Peer-to-peer transaction system
In a similar way, the creators of Flixxo believe that the initiation of an effective peer-to-peer transaction system could make the file-sharing platforms more useful. A good number of blockchain-based startups, including Stream, Theta, and Livepeer hold the same thought. Each of the companies has its own token and seeks to decentralize the file-sharing system.
Moreover, that’s not all. Many more players at each level of the online video stack continue to appear. According to a blog post of a decentralized video company, Paratii, “What we see forming is not a single pyramidal stack, where the choice of one piece of tech inevitably ‘disables’ another. Rather, what we have are protocol silos, with more or less interoperable layers.”
Another web giant that might join the blockchain network is the Apple Music. Have you ever realized that it takes months probably years to purchase and download your perfect soundtrack?
Think of a piece of music that gets your heart racing in the gym or refreshes you after a long day’s work. The taste is special, right? Well, the same tastes are equally important to the controllers of online music marketplaces such as Apple Music. When users participate in such marketplaces, they create their own intellectual property through playlists, following their favorite artists, and by flagging their favorite songs. Since the data is so profitable to the marketplaces, the controllers make it difficult to transfer the preferences to another site.
How will blockchain technology solve this?
“We are being locked into these systems controlled by corporate giants,” says Jesse Grushack, from Ujo. Many startups other than Ujo (a blockchain-based music supply-chain provider), share the same thought. A good number of blockchain-based companies now aim to disrupt various layers of the online music industry. One example is Viberate, which already seeks to replace music agents with smart contracts.
Many more mainstream companies are warming up to the blockchain technology and cryptocurrency, owing to the benefits involved. In November 2017, Icelandic singer Bjork declared that she would accept four different virtual currencies for her forthcoming album. In the same way, a former Universal Music Group manager raised $1.2 million last October to fund Blokur, a music-rights management system operating on the Ethereum blockchain.
Even though many of these platforms have not declared their crypto token sales, Grushack did admit that Ujo might announce a token sale soon. Presently, Ujo focuses on the concept of a “portable fan badge.”
The ‘portable fan badge’ concept
This token-like tool links identity to data such that fans can port what musicians, songs, and genres they like across multiple types of marketplaces. Grushack says that the system enables the musician to know the fan as a person and in the process market to them directly.
In addition, the portable fan badge makes it easier for an unlimited number of parties to share rights of say, one song, in which each participating musician gets a share based on their contribution. This can take place even in the current music business, but the process requires a number of intermediaries that would erode all the benefits the artists would get.
According to Grushack, Right now Apple is in the process of phasing out purchases for music, so that leaves us in a scenario where everything we consume is a rental model…If we did transition back into a system in which we bought music, being able to own that music and relationship regardless of the platform is something blockchain enables.”
In view of the unfolding benefits of the blockchain technology and cryptocurrency, web giants will have to consider embracing the technology of the day.
Images courtesy of Unsplash and Shutterstock
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