As someone who is passionate about digital identity, I’ve often lamented the fact that my own online presence is quite fragmented, scattered across various social networks. I’m going to consolidate my existence here on this site, where I’ll share my thoughts and connect with others.
I previously published a (long since defunct) personal blog during the rise of Web 2.0, a time filled with excitement about building technology that empowers and connects people. This was a formative time for me and my career, where I became immersed in OpenID and OAuth, and the broader issues of identity, security, and privacy on the Internet.
In the nearly two decades since, the principles of Web 2.0, along with the simultaneous rise of cloud and mobile computing, have reshaped how society interacts. While, in my opinion, the impact has been positive, it is also evident that the way the technology has been applied has fallen short of delivering on its promises. Those shortcomings have led people to look for alternative solutions.
There’s a recent trend of people rediscovering, advocating for, and building what has become known as the “small web." A new search engine is even differentiating based on this movement. This trend harkens back to the even earlier Web 1.0 era.
While some of this might be dismissed as retro-nostalgia, there’s a parallel trend of people building next generation technology under the auspices of Web3. These projects take a more disruptive approach, relying on blockchains and recent advances in cryptography to give people more control. Even in the middle of (yet another) crypto winter, more projects are being launched every week, adding to a list that is already too long to enumerate.
While some people in each of these factions express dissent at both the current state of affairs and its associated technology, I don’t share that view. Rather than supplanting each other, as the version numbering notation might suggest, the technology from each of these eras is symbiotic - better if it coexists. And while corporate-controlled platforms have become overwhelmingly dominant, connecting with businesses and trusted third parties is crucial even when individuals are given more control.
With a perspective that now spans three generations of web technology, I’m going to use this space to explore what's next, continue building for today, and reflect on the past. I hope the insights will help create better technology that works better for everyone. If you are interested, I hope you’ll join me. Let’s go!