Open protocols are standards that anyone can implement in order to enable interoperability between different systems. They are usually developed by open communities and are free for anyone to use.
Open protocols are important because they allow for the development of an ecosystem of compatible products and services. This is opposed to closed ecosystems, where a single company controls all of its standards and compatible products, and can use that control to lock users in.
Some well-known examples of open protocols include the TCP/IP suite of protocols that underlie the Internet and the Open Source Initiative’s definition of Open Source software.
Open protocols are generally seen as very positive given the fact that they promote competition and allow for innovation. They also tend to be more secure than closed protocols, since anyone can audit the code and find security vulnerabilities. However, open protocols can also be complex and difficult to change once they are widely adopted.
Cryptocurrencies themselves are deemed as protocols, evidently based on blockchain. The crypto world is full of different protocols, both open and closed. Some of the most well-known protocols include Bitcoin – the first successful blockchain implementation, and Ethereum – an operating system of open protocols.
Web3 – Standardizing Open Protocols
The next web combines the system functions of the Internet with the system functions of computers. While the standard user interface of a web page in Web3 will share a lot of similarities with that of Web2, the underlying components that run the new Web will change fundamentally.
Web3 is represented by a set of open protocols that are run by distributed ledgers (blockchain networks). The way in which data is managed is fundamentally different here. Instead of relying on a centralized server infrastructure, much like that of the current Web, data in Web3 is managed collectively by a P2P network of computers.
These protocols are open and transparent for everyone to use and manage. They formalize the management rules that structure the governance of a blockchain network. These rules are secured by the majority of participants, who in turn get compensated with the native token of the network. This is what ensures value settlement between people who don’t require to know or trust each other.
As a first principle of Web3, the open protocol standard is vastly expanding and taking on the current Web2 infrastructure. The integration of blockchain platforms and cryptographic tokens brings extreme efficiency and interoperability. A key driver is the open sourcing of software, a rule of thumb that enables blockchain networks to function.
A significant barrier to onboarding Web3 is that it’s currently convenient for the tech-savvy. In the end, it’s up to each individual to decide which protocol they want to use. For some people, the benefits of an open protocol are worth the risk of a complex system. For others, the convenience and stability of a closed protocol is more important.
Ultimately, no one can forecast a clear future state of the Web, but one thing that is for certain – the open protocol standard will play a vital role in its development.