Innovation Monitor: A Decentralized Internet

NYC Media Lab
3 min readDec 3, 2021


Innovation Monitor: A Decentralized Internet

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Welcome to this week’s Innovation Monitor.

Last week, we discussed the Gartner’s Hype Cycle, and Everett Rogers’ Diffusion of Innovations as a lens to consider the various emerging technologies we explore through this newsletter and the NYC Media Lab more broadly. From NFTs, FLoCs, brain computer interfaces and blockchain, there’s always something new in the world of cutting-edge tech and applied innovation.

This week and next, we’ll explore how Web3 (or Web 3.0) is another facet of distributed tech, built on decentralized networks and blockchain. Owned by those who build and use it instead of a central host or authority, Web3 is run and managed in a way that’s often described as self-governing and trust-less. It’s a mind shift as well as a new infrastructure.

Thank you for reading. As always, if you were forwarded this email, you can easily sign up here.

All best,
Erica Matsumoto Why Web3 Matters
To begin, let’s start with a great Twitter thread on why one should care about Web3:

Power to the People & Pushback on Platforms The philosophy of Web 3.0 is for developers to take back control of their content from tech giants such as Microsoft, Facebook, and Apple.

As these excellent articles from NPR and Business Insider describe, Web3 is an iteration of internet where social networks, search engines, and marketplaces have no company overlords. Since it’s decentralized and built on blockchain, people and users are able to control their own data. By breaking down the massive databases currently held on Web 2.0 by companies such as Meta and Google, Web3 hands over greater control to users. Data generated by computing resources such as mobile phones and vehicles will be sold by users through decentralized data networks in which users would retain ownership control. This represents a major change from Web 2.0.

As a result of this approach to user-controlled data, Web3 also offers an exciting paradigm shift in interoperability. Imagine a single sign on to access everything associated with themselves, such as their email, social media accounts, and shopping. This would, for example, allow users to bounce around from shopping to social media, etc. with one login, and all that activity is recorded on blockchain.

Many suggest that Web3 is likely to operate alongside Web 2.0, and not entirely replace it. We think this is just the beginning. How Web3 is Not Web 1.0 and Web 2.0 Here’s a great succinct summary on how Web3 is different from previous iterations from the Internet pulled from an excellent privacy-first browser Brave:

  • Web 1.0 can be thought of as the “read-only” web.
  • Web 2.0 can be thought of as the social web. While it democratized publishing, it’s been dominated by centralized Big Tech, and a nightmare for privacy.
  • Web3 is the decentralized web. It’s marked by decentralized apps (DApps), decentralized finance (DeFi) like cryptocurrency, and blockchain technology. It’s much stronger on personal privacy.

This Week in Innovation History

November 29, 1972: Atari Introduces Pong & The First Commercial Video Game

Atari introduces their first product, Pong, a table tennis-themed arcade game, which would become the world’s first commercially successful video game. The popularity of Pong sparked the beginning of the video game industry with Atari being the leader in both arcade and home video gaming industries through the early 1980’s.

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NYC Media Lab

NYC Media Lab connects university researchers and NYC’s media tech companies to create a new community of digital media & tech innovators in New York City.