Tech Is Due for Disruption


In my previous post I said that I will talk about my thoughts on web3 and what I think it is, while this post is not that post, it is one of the posts that will build up to that post, whenever it happens. ( and I may just put my thoughts together through these in that one post as a summary )

Every disruption can be most concisely summed up by this ‘meme’ format : “thing but ____ (blank)”. For example, in the dotcom bubble, disruptions amounted to thing but online.

Here, ’thing’ is not usually an object, it is a concept. Just like a telephone is not ’letter but wires’, it is ‘vocal communication but electronic’, we can omit ‘vocal’ here, as well, to fully get what I’m talking about.

The significant phases so far have been, in rough order:

  • thing but online’
  • thing but app’
  • thing but platform’

In each one of these phases, the pattern for who wins out basically boils down to being early or being better. In between all these phases, there are many ’thing but ____ but also better’ types. Like how Facebook was better Friendster or Orkut. Like how Reddit was a better Digg or Stumbleupon.

This pattern or phenomenon, is not isolated to the tech world, of course. This is just how the market functions or how any progress in any field happens.

What next?#

If we think about it, all of the web tech that exists right now, could have easily existed way before. What I mean by this is that Amazon could easily be as big in the 90s. Websites could easily have been Web 2.0 before as well. I’m sure we’re familiar with at least one story about a startup or conventional business that was too early and failed as a result of that. What marks the transitions in that timeline, then, are underlying infrastructural changes.

Infrastructure is a bit of a chicken and egg, however.

There is little adoption because there is little infrastructure and vice versa. All it takes is for either of these two conditions to satisfy and the other follows.

With that said, let’s understand what all has become so cheap (monetarily or in time cost) and widespread that they practically open up the door for something else to happen.


Often overlooked, storage has become and is continuing to become cheaper than ever. And I see no way in which this would change.

Think about it, as people we have become used to basically generating and storing information about ourselves and others more than ever before.

How often could a medieval peasant sit down to write a journal, an essay, a story, a diary? Rarely.

How often did a person in the early 1900s take a photograph? A few times a year, at best. So, rarely.

Both of these things are generating persistent history.

As time has gone on, the frequency of generating persistent history about ourselves has gone up with it.

As time passes, information will only accumulate and increase.

This puts the demand for more storage as the most widespread and predictable.

As such, it must be cheap enough. Which it is. In terms of price of digital storage, storing a book’s worth of text is practically free it is so cheap already.

Given that fact, how cheap is it to store the same information that you have on all your social media, on your device? This includes photographs, videos and all general digital information combined. Perhaps the most powerful social media users would take a single terabyte of information? ( I mean the average of top 5%, let’s say )

A cursory look at Amazon and a 4 Terabyte HDD is 70 USD, that brings the price of all that information stored at 17.5 USD, let’s call it 18.

That is for the most powerful of social media users among us. The frequent uploading Youtuber who is also very active across all major social media platforms, for example.


A few years ago, Facebook made attempts at “free internet”, predominantly, in India. (see Indians Reject Free Basics, Mashable’s retrospective)

Right now, the URL for this service redirects to some webpage about the metaverse with a new spin on it. Well, they have such a great domain, why let that go, I guess.

Anyway, back then, the connectivity issue was just being solved as the internet was exploding in India. It was an intersection of smartphones becoming cheaper, internet data becoming cheaper and the cultural influence of the internet becoming dominant.

Facebook was not needed in the process.

Since then, (2015 ish) the number of active internet users in India has apparently doubled, if not more. Not only that, but how often they use the internet has increased many fold.

A similar process is happening in Africa as well.

This brings us to connectivity entering the “boring phase”.

The boring phase is when marginal utility starts to hit any such thing. Improvements in speed and availability start to bring less and less excitement than before to the point that it becomes boring and for granted that they would happen.

Going from 1G to 2G, was exciting. Going from 2G to 3G was similarly exciting (primarily because of BlackBerry and iPhone). 3G to 4G wasn’t that much more exciting. And now 4G to 5G will be even less than that.

We only get to this phase by first getting to ubiquity.

The ‘haves’ side of the digital divide has already entered this ubiquity phase and the ‘have nots’ side is coming over to the better side exponentially fast.

The web is changing with this more than ever before, let’s go over it briefly.

The Web#

It is becoming powerful. Not only that, it is becoming more personal again and more distributed.

I have talked about how I think of web as the platform before but this time I’m going to talk about how the landscape looks like at present.


Google’s ChromeOS, cloud gaming, cloud applications, large persistent storage (such as with YouTube downloads with premium), PWAs, etc. are all examples of this.

With IndexedDB and cache storage you can download a game’s assets on first load and have it behave like a desktop game every time you access it after that.

PWAs are now being included in the Google Play Store and they democratise apps from being tied to mobile stores.

I can imagine that it won’t be long before Valve starts allowing games to be downloaded in browser and played right from it.

Just a few examples to put things in perspective.

Personal and Distributed

In just a few years, possibly accelerated by the covid lockdowns, the market supply (and demand) for end-to-end encrypted messaging apps has greatly increased.

Every team in every company has their own favorite E2EE messaging platform for collaboration and with things like WebRTC, they have video and voice collaboration support as well.

With these, you can self host the entire application to have full control over it.

Not only that, privacy oriented platforms have exploded in popularity.

Fediverse and others are a great start for this. However, we still have a long way to go, I’ll talk more on this later.


There is a major crack in the history of the internet as I see it. A giant fracture. A divorce of internet user experience.

This schism began with the smartphone.

The smartphone threw a wrench in the machine of how the internet already looked and functioned. Smartphones were slower, smaller and differently abled (being that you didn’t have the mouse and keyboard).

With it, it threw the entire internet as we knew it into a mending and shedding mode. Websites were working round the clock to make their website compliant with the mobile and culling features to create a more unified experience across devices.

If the mobile could not support a feature, bam, it was slashed.

Not a lot of people seem to remember this, primarily because most internet users came online after the smartphone did, but there was a whole crowd of sour people from this phenomenon.

The Reddit Incident

This is particularly prominent with Reddit. Reddit was notoriously late to unify their mobile and web experience. Even their mobile app was far too divorced from how their desktop website appeared to be.

Reddit left this slack to be picked up by third party devs to make mobile apps that provided a different frontend to Reddit on mobile.

Eventually, Reddit took cues from all these apps and with their own design changes, brought down the hammer on all users across devices to become “mobilified”.

A move that was met with a lot of resistance at the time.

But this mobilification propelled Reddit to normiedom faster than ever before.

Though I was unable to find reliable information on this, it can be safely assumed that most of Reddit’s usage now comes from the mobile.

When the dust settled

Eventually we arrived at the intersection of smartphones becoming more powerful, users becoming more savvy, mobile-first development practices being applied and various other things that helped pacify the factions, and reunified most of the internet.

In the process, the thing but app had reached its climax. No longer did you have to open your laptop to order something or talk to someone. It just became convenient enough to the point that it became part of a daily habit.

This means that now web had also entered ubiquity.


Earlier I talked about how most of the stuff was possible earlier than people usually think it was. What I am going to talk about now is going to be in much a similar vein.

So what is protocolization?#

As you may have already guessed, it is thing but protocol.

Have you ever thought about why we really need Uber? Why do we need Postmates or Deliveroo or Swiggy or Zomato or Grab?

Really, why do we need any of these middlemen platforms?

Now, I’m not against middlemen like the layman is. I fully understand the purpose of them for anything. They are like a fixer upper realtor. A greaser between the good or service and the customer. The fall guy. And similar things I don’t want to list.

But every now and then, middlemen go from necessary to redundant. And when they do become redundant, someone or something takes their place that does the job far better.

And it is all possible right now to topple the incumbent middlemen.

In a parallel universe where users are more tech savvy, this already happens with present technology. Even past technology.

Let us tackle two main categories here, you will get the final picture for any other case through the examples easily.

Service Middlemen Platforms

It is easy to picture that restaurants could just make an app and users can order from them. That is as direct that it gets.

But restaurants would also then have to have their own runners to make the deliveries. Delivery times would be inconsistent as runners cannot be dynamically increased or decreased based on order volume. When order volume decreases there would be a lot of dead cost of runners. Customers may simply not want the hassle of downloading another application.

And many other issues may be present besides these.

The solution to this is to simply have an open market protocol such that users, runners and restaurants can be connected to each other and have a reputation system that validates all parties involved through another protocol.

The broad design would look something like 3 apps (just like food delivery applications have arranged it today), one for each party. All connected together by a shared protocol. This application could be any frontend for the protocol. It doesn’t have to be anything special in particular. The developers of these frontends can figure out methods to monetise it or leave it up as funding optional, it doesn’t matter. Maybe you could tip the devs for each order, not a business model but something for keeping the application up to date, or the devs can run servers hosting the data for restaurants and runners and charge a fee for that.

All parties could be validated using an identity verification service that is privacy centric using ZK proofs.

Users are presented the restaurants that are serviceable at the moment, they place an order and restaurants and runners are alerted of the order placed.

Users have price caps for how much they are willing to pay for delivery, runners set minimum prices for how much they will be willing to deliver for, restaurants set their own prices for how much they will be willing to pay a runner to broker this. All of this is handled automatically.

The notification for accepting the order only goes out to those runners that have their criteria for pricing, areas, distance, etc. met.

This is very similar in practice to how these apps operate today.

That’s the point, however. They are boringly similar.

The only difference here is that instead of it being a big, clunky enterprise. It is simply a protocol here that is making all of this happen. The frontends can be anything. You can login via any frontend so long as you meet the ID criteria. Sure, the server owners can remove any user from using the protocol on their server but you can have many options, including making your own with a single click and carrying your reputation with you on it through third party auth and rep.

This is where I come to conclude that this is basically just decentralisation.

Big, clunky, corporations can provide this grease right now because absent them, there would be this market gap that would be filled by someone alike and nothing would change. But in a time where users are initiated to protocolization and begin to understand what that is, they are not really needed at all, they become redundant.

The best part is that there are no unnecessary cuts from runners or restaurants or even hidden fees from users that are taken in this entire process. It is much easier to start an instance at your home and compete with another instance on the same exact protocol than it is to bootstrap and fund an entire business while bleeding billions of dollars to eventually get to some pipe dream monopoly situation, that will never, ever happen.

Social Media Platforms

So storage is cheap, connectivity is practically free, the web can do it all and we are all internet savvy.

With this, just like with the service middlemen elimination, we can eliminate social media platforms as well. Just protocolize it.

Let’s remember that Reddit sustained itself by users buying digital trinkets for other users as a form of tip. I’m sure the spin on this would have taken months for them to come up with to appear more promising for investors. Well, they have since added much more on top of this but let’s forget about all that for now.

Fediverse is a great example, I don’t know if it will stay like that but the future of social media is basically decentralised homeservers that people can just carry their identity over to and fro and the servers can communicate with each other as well.

It is as simple.

This removes a lot of headaches in the process for user facing tech giants as well because they no longer have to be responsible for what people are talking about.

Recently, it has been a “damned if they do, damned if they don’t” type of situation where if they moderate their platforms, they cannot do it without getting flak and if they don’t moderate it, they get flak.

But it is simply a reality of the world that you cannot have users in the millions and not have a whole spectrum of opinions, with the polar opposites on the spectrum repelling each other.

It is simple enough to understand that I cannot imagine that these tech giants have not thought that this is coming.

I think the future of tech giants rests no longer with direct interaction with the userbase but with server owners hosting instances of the protocols and abstracting away the user and content management and everything else to these server owners.

Not only have these giants not made much, if at all, money from directly going to users, but also attracted mostly negative public attention in the process.

One can envision that it is easier for a small team of people maintaining servers and frontends to make a living off of providing services directly to users but not a giant corporation that snowballs into bloating itself despite quality control like that of Google’s in choosing who they hire.


People tell me all the time that Web3 is vague or that it means nothing or that it is a money grab or that it is some system of internet feudalism.

I have a little anecdote to share regarding this.

There used to be a flash game that I would play, it had something to do with “ponzi”. Maybe like a “web ponzi” or something like that. Pretty old game. Must have come out in 2005 at best.

Basically, the game was similar to the startup ponzi that a lot of people and VCs have been accused of doing. It was simply a game of ponzi, take money from new investors, pay back old investors, keep running the scam as long as you can.

As your company grew, one of the tricks you could employ to get more money was to slap a “Web 2.0” label on it or buy an upgrade with that moniker.

Anyway, I thought it was funny that the same things that were being said about Web 2.0 are being said again about Web3.

Just like at the time, scammers and other type of conmen and shady industry types latched onto Web 2.0 to make a quick buck, the same is happening to Web 3.

Fundamentally, there was a real idea to Web 2.0, making the web more interactive.

In fact, from what I have read, critics said the same thing about Web 2.0 that they are saying for Web3.

“But you can already do those things, so what is so special?”

Well, that’s the thing, there isn’t anything particularly new. It is just a movement in a certain direction. It is just where things are headed.

Yes, you could do those things back then like add a Javascript toy to your site.

Just like now the critics can say, “Oh well, just start up a server and set up a basic social media template and you own your data, what’s the big deal?”

The thing about social and technological opinion shifting is that you need enough people there for the party to get going. Everything that becomes a buzzword will find itself being misused, abused and used for gain and quick bucks.

“Gluten Free” on a thing that naturally cannot have gluten.

“Vegan” on something that isn’t even made from animal products.

“No Added Sugar”

“Organically Grown”

All these phrases also refer to real things that stick true to that. But there are enough other things that latch onto these labels that aren’t true to those things.

It doesn’t mean that now this is all worthless or entirely a scam.

What seems to me to be the case with Web 3 is that it is mainly protocolization.


User focused tech giants are sitting atop a mountain of revenue entirely based off of cornering the market in a race to the bottom while it has been demonstrably true that the real money is made by providing infrastructure and leaving the rest to users to do whatever they want with it and dissolving their liability in the process.

Web technology has come and is going further still, to the point where mobile browsers have become powerful enough that most people can get on the web in a more tech savvy manner with proper connectivity.

You become your own datacenter with storage becoming cheaper and can genuinely carry and own your data if you want.

Protocolization is “there’s an app for that!” but instead with protocols.

Web3 is just a movement with many facets just like Web 2.0 and there’s nothing different about it than being another phase in going forward in disrupting the incumbents of the tech world.

© Aryansh Malviya 2023