Signal and Ethereum founders debate web 3.0

Key facts:
  • The CEO of Signal joins critics of the Web 3.0 concept.

  • Vitalik Buterin responds optimistically, although he agrees on some points.

Matthew Rosenfeld, better known as Moxie Marlinspike, founder of the private messaging application Signal, published his impressions about the concept of Web 3.0, raising arguments that did not go unnoticed by the ecosystem of cryptocurrency users.

One of the most important criticisms he made in his post, it was in terms of the divergence of information between centralized and decentralized systems that are part of the platforms that are part of what is called Web 3.0. This is a term used to refer to the decentralization of the Internet.

When we talk about blockchains, we talk about the distribution of trust, consensus without leadership, and all the dynamics of their operation, but they ignore that these clients cannot really participate in those dynamics. All network diagrams are based on servers, the trust model is between servers, everything is on servers.

Blockchains are designed to be a network of peers, but they are not really designed to make it possible for your mobile device or web browser to be one of those peers.

Moxie Marlinspike, founder and CEO of Signal.

Marlinspike comments on how he created some applications to mint non-fungible tokens (NFTs) himself, but eventually became convinced that these, inevitably rely on central and undistributed servers.

“There is nothing particularly distributed in these applications: they are just normal interactive websites. The distributed is where the permissions are to update the data: on a blockchain instead of a centralized database, “he says.

Realizing that, for example, NFTs for sale (sometimes for hundreds of thousands of dollars) were redirecting to web addresses hosted on centralized servers, Marlinspike created an NFT and registered it on two different platforms: OpenSea and Rarible, in addition to hosting it in your wallet or purse.

The purpose of this was to show that a NFT changed its shape depending on where it was viewed from, or depending on the place from where your address was accessed.


For example, it looked one way in OpenSea and another way in Rarible, but when you bought it and viewed it from your wallet, it always showed a fecal (poop) emoji. What you bought was not what you got. There is nothing unusual about this NFT, it is just how it is developed. Many of the more expensive NFTs can turn into a poop emoji at any time. I just put it out there.

Moxie Marlinspike, founder and CEO of Signal.

From left to right, the three versions of Moxie’s NFT, in OpenSea, Rarible and its wallet. Source: Moxie Marlinspike.

Protocols don’t scale, platforms do

Moxie believes that the promoters of the so-called Web3 could be making mistakes that have occurred before in the history of the Internet, in the cases of Web1 (protocol) and Web2 (platforms).

For the founder of Signal, “people don’t want to run their own servers, and they never will.” He points out that, with Web1, the premise was that all users were consumers and content creators, but also administrators of the infrastructure, but that is not the case.

“We would have our web server and our own website, our own mail server and our own mail service (…), but this is not what people want. People don’t want to run their own servers, “he said in the post.



For Moxie, if the goal is to change our relationship with technology, “systems should be designed that distribute trust without distributing infrastructure.” That is, users can accept a balance between centralization and decentralization, but “using cryptography to distribute trust.”

“One of the things that amazes me the most about web3 is that, despite being built on top of ‘crypto,’ there is very little crypto involved,” he says.

On the other hand, he comments that it is also necessary to reduce the effort used to develop software, since it takes a great deal of effort and human work, in addition to time.

Changing our relationship with technology would make creating software much easier, but I have seen the opposite happen. Unfortunately, I think that distributed systems have a tendency to make things more difficult and complicated.

Moxie Marlinspike, founder and CEO of Signal.

The response of Vitalik Buterin, founder of Ethereum

Vitalik Buterin, founder of Ethereum, a well-known cryptocurrency platform, offered an answer to Moxie Marlinspike’s post, where he agrees on some points and differs on others.

«I think that the current state of things comes from the fact that we have things that are simple but centralized, and things that are decentralized but difficult; but the new technology (which will bring a lot of crypto) is, in fact, about to give us the best of both worlds, ”said Vitalik.

Buterin mentioned several ways to connect to a blockchain, either through a platform, such as a cryptocurrency exchange, a third-party server, or with a thin client of the network to which you want to connect.

In addition, it included the option to run a full node, but recognized that this might not be affordable and that not all users would want to. The alternative for this is to run a thin client, but he points out that, in this case, they would have to have a friendly platform with this type of “server” or node, and manage to build that platform. requires drastic changes on Ethereum, due to its complexity.

In my opinion as to why this has not happened yet, I would say it is due to limited resources and funding. It’s easier to build things in a centralized way, and it takes time to get it right. The Ethereum ecosystem didn’t have much funding until 4 years ago, but new projects take time to get off the ground, while centralized projects have had plenty of time to get started.

Vitalik Buterin, Founder of Ethereum.

To get users to have thin clients, he notes that the only realistic opportunity in Ethereum is the move to Proof of Stake (PoS). Vitalik noted that while progress has been made, it takes time to complete the transition.

“I think a world of properly authenticated and decentralized blockchains is approaching, and it is closer than some think,” he says on the basis that, in his opinion, most of the work has already been done.

The concept of Web3 has been criticized by other personalities such as Jack Dorsey and Elon Musk, we reported in CriptoNoticias, who a few weeks ago denied that it was possible to build what venture capital investors and corporations in the technology area promise.

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Signal and Ethereum founders debate web 3.0

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