The leverage someone or something gets through access to information, a computing system, or a database.
When thinking about differences between web2 and web3, this is something that continually sticks out as being unique. Granted access to a dataset or system can change the course of a project and certainly all of the human lives involved in it. Access hasn’t always been equal.
In a traditional finance/central finance world, access leverage is unequally distributed. Not everyone has access to all of the critical systems, datasets, and payment systems. The systems are closed by default and surrounded by humans, policies, and contracts that grant others access. These systems are also full of layers, so prices vary dramatically depending on what layer of importance you reside in.
In a web3 world, everyone has access to leverage and the pricing is the same for everyone. The databases are open for everyone to view and anyone can interact with them. The systems are open by default.
The best example I can think of between these two systems is at the database level. Pre web3, Mongo, MySQL, SQLServer, etc, etc are where the data is stored and to get access to these systems, the companies who own the databases have to permit you to read/write to them. The owner of the server is in charge, and getting access to that system could take years depending on how important it is.
Why that matters
In a traditional environment, adverse selection is ever-present. Adverse selection dictates who gets access and heavily influences who gets funding. Being let in changes the course of a business.
Using a bank as an example here feels like a good parallel because so many of the web3 innovations we’re seeing have to do with either cryptocurrency or some variation of data held in a database, albeit in a very different way, which is kind of the point I’m trying to make here. I also think banks have done an outstanding job at keeping up with the times over the last 5 years.
Working with or partnering with a bank is much easier than it used to be from my vantage point. Most banks run on MySQL, Oracle, SQL Server, or another variation of a more traditional database structure with all of those improvements. The banks are tied together by complex systems that store data in similar ways that represent the movement of money. Getting access to these systems is based on the people who maintain them. When you get access, it will be a subset of data in the entire system, and someone else will continue to control and monitor your access.
I’m biased, but I think FinTechs are a shining example of how companies can make this easier for banks and the users of the systems. It has gotten a lot better. The new, better versions of things are still based on structures wrapped around MySQL, Mongo, Oracle, and databases.
The differences between these web2 systems and web3 systems start at the database level. In this environment, every developer ends up with a slightly different permission and ongoing dataset. Managing and modifying those permissions involves a lot of filters, people, and time. The company really only lets out the data that it wants to let out, restricting who can put data into the databases.
When the database is open everything changes
In this system, everyone has access leverage. Everyone can see the root database, and in addition to that, everyone has access to the ongoing updates to the global dataset. Global data access is an insane level of access to achieve in a web2 database environment as a developer. You’d better be the protege nephew of the bank’s founder to get that level of access in a web2 world, and then, obviously, you’re the only one with the access leverage. In the web3 world, the whole world gets equal access at the same time and the opportunity that goes with it.
In this world, everyone has the same dataset and the same rights to contribute data back. No filters. Think of each chain like its own database where you can get the source of truth, all of it, all of the time at virtually no cost. Developers can reach into the database with specific requests and find anything they need.
- There is no meeting to go to
- There is no timezone changes to deal with
- There are no expensive flights or hotel rooms to get to the meeting
- There are no Vice Presidents to talk to about your business
- There are no working hours, and there are no holiday breaks
- There are no vacations to workaround
- The systems run 24/7/365
In the web2 world, the systems operate based on hours and when people are available to be there. Suddenly, in the web3 world – databases that run the products and ecosystems have a dial tone. They aren’t on sometimes; they are always on.