GAFAM .’s Problematic Hegemony
The US giants have had access to their users’ data for years and have each campaigned to reassure them. Probably the most talked about campaign is Apple’s tagline “What happens on your iPhone stays on your iPhone”. But even today, the digital gold that is this personal data is still out of control, even if some companies preach the opposite. Recently, Alexandra Elbakyan, founder of the Sci-Hub site, saw that her data had been removed from her account google and Apple are shared with the FBI.
In addition to partial security, these giants monitor profiles on the internet. Most user activity takes place through their own platforms. google, Youtube† facebook† instagramto be the most visited sites in the world. And if you want to evolve anywhere on the web other than the digital property of the GAFAMs, their physical properties (the data centers) still capture the data. Most websites are hosted by AWS† Google Cloud and Microsoft Azure† The GAFAMs can therefore access these without even having to steal them from the browsing history; indeed, the slightest action taken online generates data directly on their servers.
The web hasn’t always worked that way, so Web 3.0 is taking shape to get around this hegemony. The latter offers a service similar to GAFAM Cloud hosting, while respecting the user’s privacy.
Web 3.0 as a credible alternative to GAFAM hegemony?
Historically, the web has evolved over time, starting with web 1, reaching the stage of web 3 today. Web 1.0 was considered static, that is, it consisted only of sites / pages that did not allow the user to interact, just to consult them.
Web 2.0 started to set up more dynamic sites/pages, the user had more freedom, could post videos, leave comments and thus add content to websites. The user then started to become an actor for the websites himself. This new iteration of the web faced a challenge: scalability. When the content hosted on a website increases, it is necessary to increase both the storage capacity and the power of the server. This tedious task for developers could be managed automatically by cloud services, at ultra-competitive prices. Today, the default choice is to host your website in a cloud.
Web 3.0 is a new iteration of the web in which the blockchain plays an important role. Among the possible novelties we find NFTs and cryptocurrency. However, the real essence of web 3.0 is to enable the construction of a web on which user interactions can be anonymous. How can this reverse the place of the web giants? Simply because it is possible to create a cloud that does not use their data centers, with a service that is just as easy for the developer to use. It works thanks to volunteer users who make available some of the power of their personal PC, ltogether they form a computational mass that is comparable to what a digital giant can offer. Personal data is encrypted and spread across all machines and only the owner can decrypt and read it. Web 3.0 thus holds the promise of bypassing GAFAM’s digital and physical infrastructures.
The GAFAM response: the metaverse
the metaverse is an innovation aimed at the end user. If Google redirects to 2D websites today, tomorrow it will redirect to 3D sites where interactions are much more tolerant than what a mouse and keyboard provide. To really understand the difference between the internet before and the metaverse, we can take a very simple example. When a user currently connects to a website, he uses a mouse cursor that will move from page to page. tomorrow with the metaverseit will no longer be a cursor, but a full avatar, with its appearance and inventory, which will evolve under pseudonym in 3D worlds. Mark Zuckerberg’s bet with the metaverse is not to sell an amazing world that will please everyone, but to sell a creation platform that allows anyone to create their universe without coding. To make this happen, you just need to watch the video where Meta presents his world creation system by voice, as well as his intention to recruit engineers on a large scale.
The understanding of metaverse does not oppose that of web 3.0. That is, it is possible to create a 3D world hosted by blockchain technologies rather than by data centers that raise questions about privacy. Nevertheless, in terms of workload and feasibility, using the solutions of the metaverse GAFAM will probably seem more practical and much cheaper than Web 3.0’s.
Joe Larue for the AEGE DATA club
for further †