The search of the record podcast our plan is to talk a bit about what’s happening at google search how things work behind the scenes and maybe just maybe have some fun along the way my name is garywood m a search advocate on the search relations team here at google in switzerland i’m joined today by martin and ellen both also on the search relations team ellen’s focus on our team is e-commerce in google search say hi people hi that was martin g’day that was not martin that was alan okay today we thought we could talk about something exciting that’s happening on the internet and that is web 3. today’s episode is a little bit different because we are

not going to talk about an official position of google on web3 but rather it’s our thoughts about web3 and this whole topic started from discussion that we started in a team meeting a few weeks ago and we just stopped the discussion and decided to do it in public while still off the record but in the public nonetheless what could possibly go wrong martin please don’t just don’t so before we jump into web three maybe we should define the different stages of the web because it is kind of confusing sometimes and maybe some people don’t know that there are there are different pseudo versions of the web so maybe let’s talk about web one what do you think web one means my uh first recollection of web one was actually back in

my university days and the internet was just starting out oh am i dating how old i am we won’t worry about that detail and it was sort of like oh i want to find a manual for the this new bit of software and oh you have all these shelves of printed documentation and it took forever to get them up to date and web one to me was really about publishers making this content available on the web you can get an update to a manual you could search and find the manual even if you didn’t have the printed version and that was a big step forward at the time but the content it was all static people could read it but you couldn’t do anything with it other than read it you couldn’t

comment on it it was just a publisher model and some people you referred to that then as a sort of the era of the read-only web people sharing content online and other people could consume it it was great save trees less less printouts less these thousand page manuals getting printed all over the shelves and from that point of view i think was a great step forward at l at least for web one yeah and i mean back in the days it was also costly it was simply costly that the technology was relatively affordable and simple but unless you had someone with uh the means of storing your stuff online somewhere like university or something it was barely affordable like you would have to put money in to run a website and significant money at that

 

Domains were significant

i think at the price as well and yeah do you remember what was your first encounter with web one hair codes i think that was when i started working part-time after school for a company in town that had a website that was wild but there was no interaction with the website it’s basically it was just you going to the website and then just reading and that’s it and leaving yeah yeah or from from my perspective as a webmaster as we used to be called uh you would put stuff on the website and then people could consume that content roughly like broadcast media works as well like you right you can’t

really you don’t have a back channel and then in comparison uh web 2 would be more read and write in the sense that you as a user could leave a comment or you could even create your own content instead of having someone create the content and then you just consume it yeah i i don’t remember checking the dates but that feels like the era of rise of wordpress and other similar cms’s where people could so comments and likes that was an obvious first one but then being able to write your own blog and you can just do it straight through a web browser that was pretty radical at the time and also a bunch of hosted services so you didn’t if you wanted to have a blog at the beginning you would have to actually have a web server or web space and then if you wanted one with a database that cost you extra and yada yada you might run your blog from i don’t know front page or dreamweaver or something but that was tedious because then

you would have to write html but then then came i think like live journal and google blogs and all these other services where i just sign up with my email address a password a username and then i get username.whateverservice.com and then i can just write stuff in the kind of what you see is what you get fashion yeah and then i think that the next generation or it started to become the social platforms i can publish something and i don’t have to have people find me because i can be on the social platform i can build a relationship between friends and so they’re going to know about it and they can

start sharing it and the difference there i think is good you got a built-in audience and distribution mechanism and frequently the platforms would solve a monetization problem like if you’re trying to get money from your content the platforms would worry about showing ads and so forth and they’d give a cut of that to the creators of the content i’m guessing that these platforms are also or were also i guess they still are good for for example small businesses uh who don’t want to deal with setting up a server or figuring out how to deploy a wordpress installation um and they can just go to a platform like wordpress.com and sign up with a free account and then they have their website with one click essentially and then they just have to put up the content so from from that perspective it feels like these platforms solved a problem for a large portion of the web

or potential web where it enabled people to create content even if they didn’t have the the background for creating websites or the resources or the resources yes because now it became a lot more accessible yeah and if you think of media like uh video i mean it’s not easy to host video and do a good job and there’s lots of bandwidth issues and lots of storage issues so um it’s actually a freaking nightmare yeah like two to hold to host video because like hosting images is is kind of easy because you have let’s say like up to 1.5 megabyte image let’s say that’s your limit on the image hoster

but with videos you have to keep connections open for a very long time usually unless you split it or you have to multiplex the the video for whatever reason it’s actually very very complicated i think also and it’s possibly towards i don’t know if it can call it towards the end but the other aspect of the monetization sort of stuff is people started to do things like well how do i get paid other than just doing ads and you started getting into merchandising and tipping and patreon sites and kickstarter projects and so forth to me it was always been interesting uh comparing also to china because china really sort of came late to the game i think for the internet for the mass thing but it started on mobile and so getting ads on your page is a much worse experience than a mobile device and so they there’s actually a lot of interesting innovation it’s actually come out of china in the whole area of monetization if you look into it because they couldn’t rely on ads as being the primary source of revenue for these platforms if you ever use the web on china like wechat or anything like that it’s actually fascinating because like quite literally with a

tap on the screen you can pay for a service without actually leaving any window it’s it’s so seamless when you’re interacting the uh i’m air quoting here local internet i actually love that part of it and uh i hope that we can figure out how to do that on uh on a larger scale not just in in just one country when you mentioned tipping i was thinking of twitch which is a platform where people can stream video games or woodworking or cooking or whatever and every now and then it’s uh it feels so nice to just go and find creators who don’t have viewers and then just leave a tip for them like i don’t know like one dollar or two dollars or three dollars and uh some of them are so excited about that because it’s probably also very hard to get followers on on these platforms very often it might feel that you are talking into a void and well it’s just hard to get the followers and the viewers but then you have the platforms that actually help or may be able to help with that and dig.com digg.com back in the days was one of those where you could get easily hundreds or thousands of people onto your blog just by submitting your interesting air coding

again content to that sharing site or search engines if you know any of them like a good one they can send you traffic every now and then yeah if only we knew someone who streamed on twitch i i really really tried not to say anything here but yeah i i do remember how great it felt when i so i i do stream uh live coding on open source every now and then and um it felt so nice to see like people popping up and it has been mostly people from my network more or less i did put it out on twitter uh when i did that and then people from who follow me on twitter already followed me on on twitch as well uh it feels it feels nice and it’s it’s bizarre because it’s this enclosed space and the web is so vast and it’s so hard to get a little bit of like fellowship or like people seeing you on the on the general web on these platforms it can be a little easier because they are made to promote connections and they are made to promote discovery so it

it feels nice it always feels nice when there’s a twitch follower or like someone popping into the twitch stream who i don’t know before that’s that’s lovely so we defined web one we pretty much defined web 2 as well which means that we can probably move on to web 3 and try to define it and i’m emphasizing try here because before this episode i was doing some research basically just to not sound too dumb on the podcast and it feels to me that web 3 is not too well defined am i right on that let’s be honest web 2 itself is also not very well defined because depending on who you ask about web 2.0 it means different things like we said the read-write rep but then a lot of people say no it’s only the social web other people say no it’s the

the web of services like uh youtube facebook myspace whatnot um so i i guess web 3 will be as fuzzy no well i certainly think some people are trying to define the web um what web 3 0 means and if for example i take the crypto space it’s a lot of people comment about crypto and sort of say hey is this more of a marketing push as distinct from a really true name because like the names web one and web two more came about because you look at history like you look back and you sort of say i can see a pattern there we’ll call that web

one and i can see a new pattern web 2. it didn’t define let’s do web 2 and suddenly the web became that no it was more sort of saying this is what the web has become and here’s a way of just talking about describing it so but certainly crypto is one of those areas that is being pitched as web 3.0 and it’s sort of it comes about from i think partly from the decentralized web definition and saying hey crypto payments they’re distributed decentralized payments so shouldn’t that be web3 i don’t fall into that camp myself and there’s a lot of voices who don’t like that definition yeah me yeah okay we got some on this call too same so so here’s my problem with this so and i

came across web3 the first time long after i came across people who work on decentralized web technologies and that’s that’s what what freaks me out about it is that if you look at for instance the Wikipedia definition which starts off right off the bat with like web-based uh web the web-based on blockchain technology um incorporating decentralization and token-based economy so basically crypto and blockchain and i don’t know but like 90 of the cases where someone yells blockchain is the solution it’s not and crypto has its own challenges and it starts off with so one let’s put aside the fact that there are and have been decentralized efforts long before web 3 was coined um and they still go on and they still

exist and i still think they are amazing one to mention from my perspective would be the interplanetary file system or ipfs for short that’s cool stuff that’s really really cool stuff based on mesh routing and distributed hash tables they don’t need a blockchain because by definition their stuff is distributed and i don’t know if they are now also using a blockchain because i haven’t followed their efforts in a while but a blockchain is fantastic where you don’t want a central authority to agree on things and i don’t think for for most of the web things you’d need an authority to begin with and you don’t need to agree on things like i i want to pull like there’s collaborative players by definition i want to pull information from your site you want to provide me this information now i see that

 

We do want blockchain for the financial side

Of things maybe okay sure but that’s a completely different like for me web monetization is one topic and then decentralization is another thing and then the question that i asked myself but and i think you brought this up earlier as well uh before we started recording is isn’t the web decentralized what do you think is the web by default decentralized well from my point of view there are different definitions of what decentralized really means like from day one there were web servers all around the world and that’s what made the web special and google search would come along and it’d help people find them and that’s what search was about search didn’t host the content it directed you people to put the content out there on the web and that was a useful service and and all the search engines of course to me i think what people mean when they talk about the decentralized web is not that the services are distributed

around the world because they always have been i think it’s more about the idea of communities and you start getting into and i think about my kids you know they’re on discord servers around the place and they hang out there with a group of friends and they talk about one topic they might be talking about the games they’re playing together it might be a group of school kids and so forth but it’s really that community is the aspect of the decentralized because the thing about discord in particular for example is it’s not public it’s not on the open web you can’t search and find your content on it and so you get these small communities and so to me decentralized is more about i’ve got this content and only members of that community have got access to that content and so it’s a more personal relationship with it and you’ve got many of these sort of communities and to me that’s really what uh decentralized is more about right but isn’t that textbook definition of walled gardens it’s an interesting question and walled gardens is usually to me incurs

the idea of paywall and these communities is more a matter of i’m going to have this group of people that i trust that i can share my opinions and because it’s a community in a smaller group i’m going to be more open with them and so to me that’s the more the intent or the feeling of the decentralized community it is more it’s a community aspect it’s not that it’s a paywall in front of it now you can disagree with that sort of thing but that’s sort of the feeling i get between them the awkward feeling i have about these and i  will name them walled gardens because to me they are wall gardens and it doesn’t matter who runs them it can be youtube is a wall garden if i upload my content to youtube it is in youtube’s hands and

that’s us google and i don’t have a problem with google doing that because they provide me a lot of as gary said video hosting is a pain in the lower back and they take that away from me so i can create content on youtube the problem there is that everything that i create my community that i create and plant into a walled garden doesn’t matter which can be facebook can be myspace doesn’t matter is in the house on the property of someone that can make whatever rules they want and they can change these rules so if i take my community they’re trusting my host to be playing nice and they push me out of the window and close the window behind me then there’s nothing i can do about that and that is okay because it’s their house they can do whatever they want inside their house but i lose sovereignty i lose the freedom to do what i think i want to do and now you can argue

yeah but that’s the nice and decentralized nature of the web you can build your own just like host your videos on your own server but then i have all these hassles of hosting video for myself or you can host your community with your own discord server or you can run your own teamspeak server or you can run whatever on your own machines but that’s that is tricky to do in reality and picking up on the sovereignty and uh making your own rules that reminds me of tor the tor network the onion network which uh in the great scheme of things and the idea itself is actually pretty neat i could see that this might go in a very nice direction but then it very fast became this i don’t know how to say this nicely but a cesspool of garbage and if you want to find shady things on the internet then you go to the tour and perhaps the lawlessness that came to be on the on the tour might be the result of like people making their own rules about like

what can you host on your site and what you cannot plus the privacy that thor offers to the hosters to to whoever created the websites so that’s also a very scary aspect that comes with a decentralized web where moderation might not be the easiest and i i absolutely think that moderation should exist because well we are humans yeah um absolutely true nonetheless i i do think it’s tricky if the moderation is out of your hands because yes uh for for as long as we know most of us agree with how the moderation is done currently in most of these walled gardens but we don’t know if that’s continuing to be the same thing and also it it hinders us in finding things and i i worry about we we hear this in the in the context of politics a lot that there’s like these bubbles that form and uh people might fall into a trap of misinformation and then engulf themselves in a walled garden that is full of it and and it’s it’s hard to to be informed about what you’re seeing or what you might be coming across if that is hidden from everyone’s eyes i mean the the privacy of a of a non-public community is great until it isn’t and also what if it’s a great non-public community and i just can’t find it on the web i have a

chance of finding it how do we find good communities if they are not visible to the public how do you discover these communities to me i think the an interesting segue here is into content creators like google has got like the the google creator channel now we’ve been doing a bit of work talking about how can you get small content creators and how can they succeed on the web and one of the things that we’ve been hearing from them is they see creating their own website as a logical step in their growth so they’ll start on a platform and they’ll start on facebook or on twitter or whatever the platform they’re on but they also have a fear like if there’s an algorithm change even if they don’t get knocked off the platform if there’s an algorithm change it can make a big difference to their traffic and it’s out of their control and so one of the things some of them like to do is they stay on those platforms but they want to have their own

home they want to own their content they want to control their destiny more and so they’ll actually set up their own website with their own domain name where they’ve got complete control over that content and then they publish some of their content on the public forums and so they can still be found they still share some information but then they reserve some of their content for their own community either on their own website or or wherever it is and so then they they have more control they sort of feel safer in a way because they’re less and i won’t say completely not at the mercy but they’re less at the mercy of these platforms and algorithm changes that might otherwise have a big impact on the amount of traffic they get and i think you can see this uh especially on platforms like tick tock where they are quite tricked about what you can post but it can

bring for the creator a ton of traffic as in to the content itself and then the creators very often uh move or expand to other platforms as well like let’s say that a creator starts creating vimeo videos as well or videos on vmeo.com or they get into twitch the streaming platform or youtube or whatever and then some as you said ellen they reserve some of the content for patreon patrons and then that content will be only accessible to the patrons of the creator and then they make some money and that’s supposedly good for them because you know money brings happiness i was just wondering though in terms of um creating your own website how these days like do you really want to create your own website i think these days it’s easier than ever to create your own website because you get to choose your own adventure kind of like you can let’s say you are a not so technically adapt uh creator and you just want a photo block for instance because that’s what you do photography then um i think

uploading your photos onto some service that hosts them for you and then putting in it into a hosted wordpress or whatever cms you choose is relatively simple and at least for for wordpress uh if you don’t care for your own name and are fine with like a wordpress.com sub domain it’s pretty much free at least you get started for free and then you can move from there if you’re more tech savvy then you can also choose to use i don’t know github or github pages to host your stuff you can set up your own server servers are really really cheap these days cloud platforms have free quotas and free tiers that again get you started for free so you you can start your own website on your own or under your own control without investing heavily which i think is great if you necessarily want to do that i don’t know because there’s maintenance attached to it too how do you think this would work on a decentralized web where you how would you create your your website on a decentralized web would it be any different i think there are multiple options for this one is to instead of publishing it to a known destination which is your server that is under your control you publish it to some sort of distributed storage

i think that’s the approach that ipfs is taking where everyone has part of the routing information and everyone has part of the the content as well and and thus you you have some more decentralization in the sense of if i am creating my own server great now i am making the rules unless someone emails my hosting company and says this guy is a fraudster or i stop paying my bills and then this information gets taken down with a truly decentralized system that would not be possible i don’t know how exactly publishing would look like as far as i know publishing on ipfs looks pretty much like uploading to a web space one of the projects i was playing with recently was using firebase for this i actually using the firebase database b in the back end and then i actually built the whole application in javascript running in the browser and so it’s using react using next.js put it together upload static files onto

firebase firebase did the authentication stuff for me with a simple javascript api it did all the database access so i just did client api calls and firebase looked after all the authentication and so i knocked up some simple web apps quite easily even with authentication and persistence and there’s no code running on the server at all which which i like from a security aspect um i’m sorry i think did you mention javascript yes are you saying that javascript is the future it’s the present high five alan high five that just ruined my day uh made mine that’s so nice no but i i i think that’s an interesting thing so for us it’s quite natural to type in urls uh at least short urls or scan a qr code that has a url on it i remember when covid hit pretty much all the restaurants once they were open again or every take away place that allowed me to take away food didn’t have a printed menu available but they had like a qr code on the

table so that you could scan the qr code and then see the live version because it might change on a daily basis and they don’t want to reprint and laminate a menu every day and i can see so i had a coworker once jose perez aguinaga if i pronounce his name correctly i hope i do if you listen i’m sorry if i butchered your name uh jesus um he had this this one post on some platform that went viral because he basically used a data url that was relatively short and relatively easy to just drag into your toolbar or just like as a bookmark or something and that was a full-blown editor so you had a text editor like a javascript application if you wish or like a html application rather than anything um that allowed you to edit a text file in your browser that ran from a copy pastable url so you could make it a qr code no server whatsoever it just put the html straight in a data url and that worked and i i found that very very interesting and i was like we should probably explore this concept more of like

how can we encode the content into something that we can share more easily so that we don’t have to have a back-end infrastructure for things that don’t necessarily require back-end infrastructure but then it’s also not searchable like that is only where you are at that moment yeah because there’s literally no place that can be crawled right it doesn’t exist it’s it’s ephemeral it floats in space that’s true yeah so in a web 3 world how do you think a search engine like steve or google search would exist how how would that work because we’ve been talking about world gardens for example we’ve been talking about javascript as a choice of programming language for whatever reason and it feels like search engines in general are not well equipped for these kind of things that would require us for to go away from the crawl index and serve kind of pattern that we have where we are discovering resources through urls and then these urls point to documents or things that have other urls embedded in them

and then we go there be it a site map or be it just links on an html page we would probably have to figure out a way to tap into where people are exchanging information and that might be a social platform that might be a non-public community that might be a blockchain storage who knows but i’m i’m guessing we still will continue to communicate information somewhere it’s not that these like i i can’t just create a non-hosted or unhosted application that just floats in space and then expect people to stumble upon it and then use it there will be some form of human communication and it could be let’s just play a game of let’s pretend we have steve and we want to make steve ready for the future we are now 20 years in the future or 100 years in the future and there there is such a thing as local communities where people are exchanging information based on where they are well then this this exchange needs to happen

somewhere maybe it’s qr codes that are being exchanged on phones so in that case steve would have to be on the phones where the qr codes are being scanned in order to grab the qr codes as they have been scanned and then present them somewhere where people can find them so if i’m like oh dang how did i get the information of the cafe around the corner again oh i’ll ask steve and then steve knows that oh yeah this other person has scanned this qr code for the exam and told us it’s for this cafe you’re searching for this cafe so here’s the information that would be encoded in the qr code if you were in front of that cafe something like that i guess i don’t know if you

asked my point of view i i think it comes back to the content creation strategy and deciding where to publish your content i think the creators should have control over what gets available in search engines it sort of ties in a little bit to the value so one of the definitions of web 3 is it’s going to be the value web how do i do a better job of allowing people to get online and make a living out of it even though they’re sharing content and new models of getting it we’ve talked about pattern and tipping and you’ve got concepts like product placements and ads and consulting and training paid training content there’s a whole lot of different models around for actually doing that but i think it’s up to the content creator to decide what they want to make available to what level of community and i think that’s the right model myself i think they should they own their content they should control what they’re going to share and

what they’re not going to share and i think there’s also this divide between something that exchanges value and something that is providing a value in itself as in like if i am a service and i want to announce my services to other people then that monetizes itself because then people will use my services and pay for my services but what if i am a creator as you say so there’s like this this divide between people using it as a way to engage in conversations and then there’s something where the in conversation itself has a value like if i create a cooking tutorial or if i create a book or a video series or an animated series or a cartoon or whatever then that has value in itself and is not to establish value later on so then yeah for the this kind for the latter kind of content we definitely need to figure

out monetization and that means also giving creators the control and who they want to share it to what level with and then search engines also have to figure out how to present that to users who are looking for that right yeah because you still want the discovery yeah true okay um so i think we already spent like 30 minutes on defining different versions of the web and maybe we don’t want to dig further in without actually researching this more because uh well we are not experts we are just three people who are excited about the future of the internet so maybe we can cut it here and maybe in a few months we can come back to this topic and then discuss it further as we learn more about how the web is evolving and that’s it for this episode thank you alan for joining us you can find ellen on twitter at acant99 [Music] next time on search of the record we’ll be carrying on with our spotlight series and chatting to michelle robins who is one of the most inspiring web professionals out there.

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