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ACM Opinion

Why It's Too Early to Get Excited About Web3

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Portrait of Tim O'Reilly

"Blockchain developers believe that this time they've found a structural answer to recentralization, but I tend to doubt it." -Tim O'Reilly

Credit: Peter Adams/Faces of Open Source

Tim O'Reilly is the founder, CEO, and chairman of O'Reilly Media.

I love the idealism of the Web3 vision, but we've been there before, going through several cycles of decentralization and recentralization. The PC decentralized computing by providing a commodity architecture that anyone could build and that no one controlled, but Microsoft figured out how to recentralize the industry around a proprietary OS. Open source software, the Internet, and the Web broke the stranglehold of proprietary software with free software and open protocols, but within a few decades, Google, Amazon, and others had built huge new monopolies founded on big data.

If Web3 heralds the birth of a new economic system, let's make it one that increases true wealth—not just paper wealth for those lucky enough to get in early but actual life-changing goods and services that make life better for everyone.

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