There has been a lot of drama around social media applications over the past year. From Elon Musk’s takeover of Twitter to data privacy concerns with TikTok, there is a clear theme coming across from end users. They want more control over their data.
A great example of this coming to fruition was the rapid migration of Twitter users to Mastodon.
Mastodon is similar to Twitter, but a decentralized Web3 app. That means that it is not controlled by a single entity. Instead, the Mastodon platform is made up of numerous servers, which are run by individual administrators giving users better control of their content.
A similar phenomena happened when Whatsapp was flagged by Apple for data privacy concerns. WhatsApp was collecting much more metadata than competitors and then harvesting the metadata and sharing it with Facebook. The result was millions of users abandoning the app for messaging apps that put data privacy first.
From the shortcomings of Web2 apps, Web3 apps or DApps are emerging. With ubiquitous connectivity, bandwidth and geographic limitations are eroding. Blockchain technology has created the next tranche of entrepreneurs who are reshaping how we build applications, who has access, and who controls. Decentralized storage is the foundational layer of this new decentralized stack and is something developers need to be well educated on.
End users are communicating to app developers that they are fed up with privacy violations, companies making money off their data, and censorship concerns. App developers need to take note and start building bridges between their Web2 apps and Web3 in order to stay relevant.
The bridges for developers between Web2 and Web3
The best way to bring about change and adoption of new technology is to make it easy to switch. Decentralized storage is a great place to start. Decentralized storage has all the benefits of data ownership and control, but has already developed bridges from centralized (Web2) storage.
Here’s what decentralized storage platforms have done to help app developers switch while ensuring same or better performance standards than Web2.
- Made it easy for developers to use: Forcing a developer to jump through hoops like becoming a node operator is not a good way to get Web3 adoption. Decentralized storage has automated as much of configuration as possible and made the UX familiar for developers looking to ‘plug and play’ a new storage provider for current apps, or to build new ones.
- Built gateways from Amazon S3: Whether building a new application or upgrading cloud object storage on an existing app, the most established decentralized storage platforms are S3 compatible, making it simple to switch over, and compatible with current S3 tooling. Additionally, for those that want to be up and running quickly with server-side encryption, some have a hosted S3-compatible gateway.
- Optimized performance: Some decentralized solutions require mining to store data, along with unknown durability. This early implementation has proved limiting for many organizations coming from the Web2 paradigm. The more established, enterprise-grade decentralized storage platforms created a simple, reliable, performant solution out of the gate; so developers can experience the speed, scalability, durability of decentralization. For instance, the Storj decentralized network is optimized for global performance and self-healing. For a deeper dive into the performance benefits of multilayered parallelism, see this research report from the University of Edinburgh.
- Native support for media streaming: So many applications today incorporate media streaming so this is a big checkbox for decentralized storage and the performance is the same or better than Web2 storage.
- Full protection of data and privacy: Decentralized storage has to be architected with a zero trust policy. Providers like Storj take that to the extreme. All of the data and metadata stored on Storj is automatically encrypted. This takes a lot of work off the shoulders of app developers. Erasure coding is used for data redundancy. Storj uses a 276% expansion factor and objects are broken into segments 64MB or smaller. These segments are then broken into 80 or more pieces and distributed randomly across healthy storage nodes—needing just 29 of the closest segments to reassemble, then decrypt. Combined, this significantly reduces the burden on developers to comply with the many varied data protection regulations.
- Ultra-secure and private file sharing options: Data can be secure within its bucket, the risk is in sharing. Decentralized storage provides multiple secure ways to do this—including simple public sharing URLs with revocable access.
- Eliminated need for replication: Another time saver for developers is not having to configure for data replication. With the decentralized network spreading 80 data segments across the globe and pulling from the fastest 29 nodes needed, presumably the ones located closest to the data request, this eliminates the need to store copies of data in multiple locations in order to meet the requirements for cyber resilience or geographical performance.
- Improved sustainability: Developers as a community want to make the world a better place. Using technology that has a low carbon footprint is important to that goal. By design, sustainability is a core part of decentralized storage. Platforms like Storj utilize existing storage capacity without adding incremental energy cost or new data centers. It takes advantage of latent, under-utilized network capacity. This is a key step in combating the carbon output of centralized (Web2) data storage that is expected to create 14 percent of the world’s emissions by 2040.
Web3 is growing quickly thanks to accessible and easy-to-use systems like Storj. Developers can now build DApps that live up to the promise of Web3, without having a steep learning curve, or having to compromise.
Key benefits for developers creating DApps with decentralized storage
There are some significant benefits to be gained from a fully decentralized tech stack that can impact both developers and application end users.
- Strong encryption: End-to-end encryption and client-side encryption is built into the decentralized architecture and is much better than trusting a central provider with data security.
- True data privacy: Not only is metadata encrypted, but operating in a DApp allows end users to get the benefit of the app without worrying about other entities getting value from their participation.
- Reduced need for central trust: Having to rely on central parties to play their part in your tech stack without muddying the waters has become quite difficult. Security and privacy play big roles with this, but a refreshing part of Web3 is to eliminate the need for central trust of 3rd parties.
- Doesn’t require ads for funding: With the involvement of the blockchain, Web3 technology is able to support applications without needing to fund that support with advertising.
- Self- governed and transparent: Without centralized providers owning data and parts of the process, this creates a fully transparent system of true ownership and accountability.
- Takes the web back from monopolists: Web2 has made a lot of companies extremely rich. In cloud storage there is an oligopoly of power that is hard to get out of. Web3 provides an alternative without centralized control.
The significant first-mover migration from Web2 to Web3 social media apps has proven that users are looking for the benefits of decentralization and that even in the early stages they are eager to make the switch. Application developers need to look hard at the solutions available in the decentralized tech stack and start transitioning apps to decentralized solutions that will give users the peace of mind they are looking for. Savvy developers will start building bridges to Web3 now. Decentralized storage is a great place to start.