But what exactly is Web3? And what will it bring to the table?
Most internet users are still struggling to understand this concept. So, today we’ll try to untangle the mystery that is Web3, its origins, and the exciting value propositions it presents.
Let’s dive in!
A Quick Recap of the Web So Far
To understand Web3 (or Web 3.0, as some people prefer), we first need to understand what came before it.
The tech-savvy usually divide the evolution of the web into three main eras: Web1, Web2, and —you guessed it— Web3. Let’s explore each of them:
In the late 1990s, Web1 emerged. And it was a simpler time. Website visit counters, music playing as soon as you entered a page, that awful dial-up noise when connecting to the internet… It all came together into a novel and exciting web surfing experience that wowed us all.
But this was a “read-only” era, meaning the internet was packed with static content. By “static content,” we mean content with which you couldn’t interact or which you couldn’t edit or create yourself.
This seems unimaginable now, of course. But at that time, the web was a mere information delivery system that presented information to users via a simple browser and basic, text-heavy pages with poor graphics. As such, there were only a few content creators, and most of us were simply consumers.
In the early 2000s, Web1 became Web2. This step in the evolution of the internet is often referred to as the “read-write” era and is the one we’re still at.
The idea behind Web2 was to improve the web browsing experience and expand the reach of the internet to new horizons, enabling more user participation and interaction. And this was possible thanks to social media.
In Web2 (or “the social web”), we are more than just spectators: we can create and publish content for others to interact with on a variety of different formats and platforms. Think of Instagram posts, TikToks, YouTube videos. Likes, comments, shares. You know the drill.
These online platforms have given us a space to share our perspectives, opinions, thoughts, and experiences with the entire world, and it turned the internet into a bi-directional system where we can engage back and forth. Content has become more dynamic, and we have gained a significant role in its creation and dissemination.
But this comes at a price.
To access online content creation platforms and social media, we need to provide a considerable amount of personal data. Big tech companies then gather and use that data for marketing purposes, sell it to other companies or analyze it to understand how to serve you more relevant content or ads.
Is this inherently wrong? Not necessarily, but it sure does place a lot of power in the hands of big tech companies. Also, we usually have no clue how our data is being used, which can be a bit problematic.
Web3 is coming to solve these and other issues.
What Is Web3?
Web 3.0 is still evolving and taking shape, so there isn't a universally accepted definition yet. But many like to call it the “read-write-own” era: a decentralized, user-controlled, and blockchain-based version of the web that brings together a set of new technologies, such as crypto, NFTs, DAOs, and more.
In general terms, proponents believe that this era will be marked by these features:
1) Decentralized. Decentralization is one of the key pillars of Web3. In this version of the internet, unlike the previous ones, platforms will store data on distributed networks rather than central servers, meaning that ownership is distributed among users. Why? Because decentralized data will prevent a few companies or a central authority from controlling the internet.
2) Blockchain-based. A blockchain is a secure, distributed, and immutable digital ledger for recording transactions. As such, this technology is the key to building decentralized applications and services, so it will play a significant role in the new era of the web.
3) Permissionless. Everyone will have equal access to participate in Web3. This means there will be no central authority or governing body capable of excluding people from engaging in the web.
4) Trustless. Web3 will be trustless in the sense that, thanks to the blockchain, you won’t need to place your trust in strangers, institutions, or intermediaries in order for a network or marketplace to work.
5) User-owned. Another critical pillar of Web3 is user ownership. Advocates believe that we will have a stake in and greater control over the web communities we participate in. In Web3, we will ultimately own and manage our data free from centralized control.
6) Cryptocurrency-enabled. Online Web3 transactions will rely heavily on cryptocurrency as the native means of payment. Instead of going through the outdated infrastructure of banks and payment services, you will be able to make instant transactions with minimal fees and enhanced security and privacy.
7) AI, ML, and NLP. Artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), and natural language processing (NLP) combine to allow computers to analyze data as humans do. This facilitates the smart generation and distribution of valuable content catering to our specific needs as users.
8) Less reliance on big tech. Web3 seeks to take power back from big tech companies and give it back to us. Decentralized governance mechanisms will allow users to have greater control over their data and assets.
Although Web3 hasn’t been fully defined yet, it comes with a pack of new and exciting technologies that will slowly begin to make an impact on our everyday lives.
You may have heard of some of them: NFTs, cryptocurrency, DeFi, dApps, decentralized autonomous organizations (DAOs), and metaverses are only a few of the many blockchain-based technologies that can unleash new layers of value.
Web3: For and Against
Web3 promises decentralization, further innovation, and less dependency on big companies or third parties, and a large portion of internet users, builders, and creators are excited to see it come to life.
But although the wheels seem to be in motion, some are still a bit skeptical about it. Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla, recently stated that Web3 is more of “a marketing buzzword than reality right now.” Later, he doubled down on his take and tweeted: “Has anyone seen web3? I can’t find it.”
In turn, Jack Dorsey, co-founder of Twitter, suggested that Web3 will be nothing like the utopia proponents make it up to be: “You don’t own ‘web3.’ The VCs and their LPs do. It will never escape their incentives. It’s ultimately a centralized entity with a different label,” he tweeted.
Despite the skepticism, many big players in the tech industry are pouring big bucks into Web3. In the U.S. alone, for example, trademark filings in 2022 reached 1,078 for NFTs, 604 for cryptocurrencies, and 759 for the metaverse.
As you can see, the Web3 waters are split.
In A Nutshell
So, what is Web3? Right now, it’s a work in progress. It’s a vision for a decentralized, user-owned, and blockchain-powered internet that is being fueled by the work of thousands of developers and innovators from every corner of the world.
This indefiniteness is probably why most people look at it with distrust or confusion. But if Web3 can eventually deliver on all its blissful promises, it is going to revolutionize how we use the internet, just like computers and mobile phones did.
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