Making Web3 feel like Web2

How we are solving the on-boarding and on-ramping problems to achieve cutting-edge user experience with all the benefits that Web3 technology has to offer.

HC

Hagen Hoferichter

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Co-Founder & CTO

March 17, 2023

In this article, we are taking you on a journey of how to achieve cutting-edge user experience with all the benefits that Web3 technology has to offer. To get you up to speed, we will first explore the differences between Web2 and Web3, the blockchain technology, and discuss the downsides and advantages of Web3. Finally, we are going to examine the private key problem and how we are solving it to make Web3 feel like Web2.

As technical as this agenda may sound, we promise that you will see the world differently after reading this. So grab a coffee, sit comfortably, and enjoy!

Why is Web3 even a thing?

If you are familiar with the term Web3 I probably do not have to explain to you why this is even a claim to make. If not, let me explain. The biggest difference between Web2 and Web3 is within their architecture.

Even though the Web2 is technically decentralized, most services in the Web2 are not. That is because when we talk about decentralization, we rarely mean the plain network architecture, but the products and services built on top. In the information age, those typically have one key component - a database.

The database is the treasure trove of most companies and this is why they keep it secure and sit on it like a dragon on a heap of gold. The problem is just: Some of these coins those dragons sit upon are actually YOUR coins aka your data. Or at least you thought it was yours (hint: it’s most likely not).

Web3 solves this problem with a new technology: The blockchain. While there is much to talk about when it comes to blockchains there is really only one core concept that you have to understand: It is a public distributed database that is owned by no one and is therefore owned by everyone. A real public good, like a public space where everybody can meet and interact with one another.

Sounds good, right? Indeed it is, but as with every good decentralized system there are also a few downsides.

Let’s use a political analogy: Centralized -> Autocracy, Decentralized -> Democracy. While many people marvel at the efficiency of Autocracies and how good they are at executing the will of the ruling class while being upset about the shortcomings of their bureaucratic democracy, most of us prefer living in democracies.

It’s really the same with Web2 and Web3. Most people say, after they understand what Web3 is: “This is how the internet should be”. Yes it should! But we can not neglect the downsides of Web3 and blockchain and that is that it is often slow, complicated to use and inefficient even though the results are great and create a lot of value.

In a certain way, making Web3 feel like Web2 is like making a free democracy efficient like an autocracy.

Sounds too good to be true? You’re in for a treat!

The private key problem (aka the on-boarding problem)

The Internet is full of cryptography. Don’t leave me just yet, just because I said something “mathy”! It’s going to get interesting, I promise.

Basically everything you do on the web is secured by algorithms that are so smart and genius that most people will never understand how they work. And that is OKAY! You should not have to worry about how something works in order to use it.

That being said, when it comes to Web3 and blockchain you still have to know a lot about technology. That is because most stuff in Web3 is built by early adopters who LOVE technology and have no problem with that. Hell, they even want stuff to be nerdy and “mathy”.

But that is not how you build great products that are fun to use.

We remember that smartphones took off with the iPhone even though the tech was there for years and the iPhone was not even technically “the best”. However, it took humans seriously. And that is why everybody loved it. It is just a good User Experience (UX).

To get back to cryptography, let’s do a thought experiment: I will give you a house and you can do everything with it but the key to your house is a cryptic combination of letters and numbers and if you lose it you will never be able to enter your house again. There is no locksmith opening your door and all your property and memories are locked forever in that house and you can just stare through the windows, unable to enter it ever again. Sounds like a terrible user experience for a house, right? Even though it is super secure, we do not trust ourselves enough to think of that as practical.

In Web3 there exists something called the private key and it is really just that: The key to your property on the blockchain, the place where all your stuff lives. If you lose it, you can look at all your cool digital items, but they are beyond your reach forever.

The point is, it does not have to be like this. You probably ask yourself, why not just put a key to the back door in a flower pot? Give one to the neighbor or whomever you trust? And you're right! In fact we can do even better, because it's the internet, people who can do math and are way smarter than us, already found solutions to these problems decades ago.

Let me propose a solution: You take the key to your house and split it in pieces, let's say three. One goes into the flower pot, another to the neighbor and one in a capsule on your dog’s collar. So if you would lose your key you could just collect the pieces, glue them together and have your key again. Takes a bit of the pressure away, right? And now imagine that you could even reconstruct your key even though you just had two pieces instead of all three? Sounds crazy but is very much possible. Because we are talking about software, all of this can be automated and taken out of your eye sight without you even noticing it.

That is exactly what happens when you use Narratic: You are getting all the benefits of Web3 technology without having your own Web3 wallet to start with. You just use a social login like Google, Linked-In or your Email address and everything described just happens under the hood. It really feels like Web2 but everything that you do with this login is uniquely yours!

Your loyalty program and all digital assets are uniquely yours and your users. As it should be, because it is your relationship with each other and nobody’s else.

The gas problem (aka the on-ramping problem)

Web3 people take their tech seriously. This is why they come up with a lot of solutions for stuff we never think about. Did you know that making a Google query takes as much energy as you need to boil one cup of water? Your daily google searches probably boil a bathtub per day. Crazy, right? This must be expensive, why aren't you charged for using Google? Most teenagers can answer this nowadays because it is so ingrained in our perception of technology: Because Google makes more money from you using their service than you cost them.

But what happens if you take a centralized actor with an economic incentive out of the equation? Who pays for the stuff that you do on the internet? Well, you. At least in Web3. If you want to perform any kind of operation on the blockchain (aka a transaction) it will cost you. Web3 people call it gas and you have to pay for it. I actually really like the word because it describes precisely what is going on.

Time for another oversimplified example: We already said a good blockchain is like a public good or public infrastructure. And as with any good infrastructure you have to pay to use it. To really leverage the term gas, let's say we talk about public transportation infrastructure. To get from point A to point B (make a transaction on the blockchain) we have to hop onto a bus and have to pay the fare, which is used to pay for all costs to make the trip happen. The salary of the bus driver, the maintenance of the bus and - the gas.

The problem with Web3 is that you have no money and cannot pay the bus driver when you want to make your first bus ride. So wouldn’t it be great if you had a buddy who takes you by the hand and says “That's on me!”, waves his pass at the driver, you hop on and the journey begins? That is the second piece we take away on behalf of our users.

Conclusion

This is just part of what is going on behind the scenes but these two aspects are the very two make the use of most Web3 apps so cumbersome. By handling this kind of complexity on your behalf, the User Experience takes a huge uplift – it is just as you would expect it.

But contrary to conventional web applications you get all the benefits of Web3 technology, such as built-in collaborations, marketplaces, interoperability, digital ownership, verifiability, and the assurance that you are running on superior technology that is built to last.

If you liked this article, you'll love Narratic.

Narratic allows you to create a high-performing loyalty system customized for your brand. Create emotional rewards, memberships, and tiered point systems within minutes.