Screw Web3 – my decentralized web has no blockchain

Web inventor Tim Berners-Lee wants to save his creation from centralization. But does it match Web3’s promise of salvation?

At the TNW Conference, the computer scientist gave a one-word answer:


Greetings, Humanoids

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That punch may seem to clash with Berners-Lee’s recent actions. The 67-year-old is now campaigning to save his “dysfunctional” brainchild from the clutches of Big Tech.

He has also made $5.4 million selling an NFT – one of the alleged mainstays of Web3.

But the Brit has his own vision for the successor to the web: a decentralized architecture that gives users control over their data.

Berners-Lee wants to build it on a platform he calls Solid – but you can also call it Web 3.0

“We once talked about it as Web 3.0, because Web 2.0 was a term used for dysfunctioning what happens to user-generated content on the major platforms,” he said.

“People have called that Web 2.0, so if you want to call this Web 3.0, okay.”

It just doesn’t work on the blockchain.

Berners-Lee shares Web3’s purported mission to transfer data from Big Tech to the people. But he takes a different route to the goal.

While Web3 is based on blockchain, Solid is built with standard web tools and open specifications.

Private information is stored in decentralized data stores called ‘pods’, which can be hosted wherever the user chooses. They can then choose which apps can access their data.

This approach aims to provide interoperability, speed, scalability, and privacy.

“If you try to build that stuff on the blockchain, it just doesn’t work,” Berners-Lee said.

In 2018, Berners-Lee (center) and John Bruce (right) founded the open-source startup Inrupt to commercialize Solid.