What happened to Web Mining?

image by cointelegraph

With all the NFT craze lately, blockchain and cryptocurrencies have gained a lot of attention. It really feels like 2017 again.

For most of the last year, Bitcoin was the only cryptocurrency making headlines, but since the recent NFT wave, alt coins like Ethereum, Cardano, and even Decentraland have been mooning.

But beyond art, music, and virtual ‘metaverses’, there’s one thing in particular that hasn’t yet made a comeback: Web Mining.

Web Mining has a somewhat of a broad definition, but the one I’m referring to is websites that mine cryptocurrencies from unused CPU power of their site visitors.

How exactly does this work?
Browsers like Chrome have built-in support to run simple javascript code. By injecting javascript code into a web page, websites can instruct the browser to run the computation for mining, on your device. Distributed across 1000s of active users, websites were able to effectively harvest enough CPU resources to profitably mine certain cryptocurrencies like Monero, and generate money.

So long as websites get user consent, Web Mining is considered a pretty ethical way to monetize a site and mine cryptocurrencies. Users pay you with unused cpu resources, as opposed to the unethical practice of personal data for ads, or the amount of energy consumed by GPU farms to mine.

I looked into it as way to monetize WeeklyEdible, but it seems it’s not really practiced as much. So, what happened?

Around 2017/ 2018, there were several services, such as CoinHive, that made it really easy for people to web mine Monero. There was no complex coding needed, just a simple script tag or plugin to install. At the time, pretty much everyone, including the UFC, was doing it.

However, around 2019, a lot of these services went defunct after Monero, the main cryptocurrency used for Web/ CPU mining, had a fork which revised the coin’s algorithmic protocol such that it wasn’t feasible to mine using javascript in the browser.

Now, it seems it’s just not really worth it. I did find one coin project, CoinIMP/ Mintme.com coin, that offers it, but it’s not very practical. The coin is fractions of fractions of a cent, but it has a limited supply, so it’s only worth it on the off chance it moons in the long term.

I hope a solution presents itself or takes off, because it’d be cooler not to have to take user data, or charge people for information.

Question remains though… what happened? Given this year’s surge of e-commerce platforms and devices online, could the recent NFT wave reignite the market for this?

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