Jan 7, 2022
What is Web 3.0?
If you ever encounter any tech, crypto, or venture-capital types, then you’re more than familiar with one of tech’s biggest buzzwords in 2021—Web3.0.
For starters, web3 refers to a decentralized online ecosystem based on the blockchain. Sounds like a mouthful right? Well it is, but it’s going to be important—much more than it is now.
Web 3.0... A Revolution?
Yes we said it, a revolution! At least it is for Web3 evangelists. For some skeptics, it's an overhyped house of cards. We’re on the side of web3.0, although we admit some things will need to be sorted out before mass adoption.
For those in the space, web3 represents the next phase of the Internet and, perhaps they’re right. Web3 can be a way to organize society, and we've seen this already with cryptocurrencies, NFTs, etc.
Here’s a quick glance at the evolution:
- Web 1.0: the era of decentralized, open protocols, in which most online activities involved navigating to individual static webpages.
- Web 2.0: today—the era of centralization, where a huge share of communication and commerce takes place on closed platforms owned by a handful of super-powerful corporations—think Google, Meta (Facebook), Amazon.
- Web 3.0: break the world free—no more of that monopolistic control, well one can hope. Like we mentioned above, web3 is where people control their own data. Users can bounce around from social media to email to shopping using a single personalized account. Think Ready Player One, but before the Oasis has been created. This is possible by blockchain technology.
What’s Blockchain Technology?
One might say it’s the key to decentralization. Blockchain technology enables users to create publicly visible and verifiable ledgers of record that can be accessed by anyone, anywhere. From shopping to social media, the idea is that everything you do gets handled through the same secure processes, with both more privacy and more transparency.
In 2021, Ethereum was the blockchain that attracted the most Web3 interest, but there are growing web3 communities in Solana, Cardona and others. Supporting both a cryptocurrency and NFT’s, and you can do everything from making a payment through it to building an app on it.
Web 1.0, 2.0 and 3.0
Let's take a trip back to Web1.0, 2.0, and 3.0.
By 1990, Berners-Lee had invented three fundamental technologies that became the foundation of the Web:
- HTML: HyperText Markup Language, the markup or formatting language of the Web.
- URI or URL: Uniform Resource Identifier or Locator, a unique address used to identify each resource on the Web.
- HTTP: HyperText Transfer Protocol, which allows for the retrieval of linked resources from across the Web.
By the mid-1990s, most internet users were delighted by the novelty of features such as email and real-time news retrieval. Remember the ping? “You’ve got mail” (in pre-siri robot voice).
Over the past 15 to 20 years, bland Web pages of Web 1.0 have been completely replaced by Web 2.0's social connectivity, interactivity, and user-generated content. Thus, making it possible for such content to be viewed by millions of people globally and almost instantly.
Web 2.0 has been driven by key innovations such as mobile internet access, social networks, and the near-ubiquity of powerful mobiles like iPhones and Android-powered devices.
Web 3.0 represents the next phase of the evolution of the Web/Internet, but this time built upon the core concepts of
- and greater user utility.
Tim Berners-Lee had expounded upon some of these key concepts back in the 1990s:
"No permission is needed from a central authority to post anything on the Web, there is no central controlling node, and so no single point of failure ... and no 'kill switch! This also implies freedom from indiscriminate censorship and surveillance."
"Instead of code being written and controlled by a small group of experts, it was developed in full view of everyone, encouraging maximum participation and experimentation."
Key Features of Web3
One of our favorite things about Web3 is that platforms and apps aren’t explicitly owned by a central gatekeeper. Rather, the users—and the best part is that users can earn their stake by developing, using, and maintaining.
Web 3.0 takes this a step further by making the Internet accessible to everyone anywhere, at any time. Moreover, at some point, internet-connected devices will no longer be concentrated on computers and smartphones like in Web 2.0 since IoT (Internet of Things) technology will bring forth a plethora of new types of smart devices.
Let's take these two sentences, for instance:
- I love Web3
- I <3 Web3
Their syntax may be different, but their semantics are pretty much the same. Partly because semantics only deal with the content's meaning or emotion.
Using semantics in the Web will enable machines to decode meaning and emotions by analyzing data. Meaning, internet users will have a better experience as a result of enhanced data connectivity.
While Web 2.0 presents similar capabilities, it is still predominantly human-based, which allows for corrupt behaviors, such as biased product reviews, rigged ratings, etc. Humans are such a problem, aren’t we?
Unfortunately, we kind of are. A wealthy company can gather a large group of people and pay them to create positive reviews for its potentially undeserving products. I’m not going to say it but, maybe the Internet needs AI to distinguish the genuine from the fake to provide reliable data? Shots fired.
The thing is, whether we like the idea of AI or not, it’s here and it isn’t going anywhere. In the case of web3, AI will fit in perfectly, enabling a world of new capabilities, most of which haven’t even been imagined yet. As AI advances, it will provide users with filtered and unbiased data, among other things.
Some futurists also call web3 the Spatial Web as it aims to blur the line between the physical and the digital by revolutionizing graphics technology, bringing into clear focus 3D virtual worlds.
Many Web3 developers have chosen to build dApps because of Ethereum's inherent decentralization:
- Anyone on the network has permission to use the service – or in other words, permission isn't required.
- No one can block you or deny you access to the service.
- Payments are built-in via the native token, ether (ETH).
- Ethereum is Turing-complete, meaning you can pretty much program anything.
Web3 has some limitations right now:
- Scalability – transactions are slower on Web3 because they're decentralized. Changes to state, like a payment, need to be processed by a miner and propagated throughout the network.
- UX – interacting with Web3 applications can require extra steps, software, and education. This can be a hurdle to adoption.
- Accessibility – the lack of integration in modern web browsers makes web3 less accessible to most users.
- Cost – most successful dApps put very small portions of their code on the blockchain as it's expensive.
Web3 is seen as a threat to some, specifically big tech, but if there is one thing I do know, is that the world runs on currency. Big tech isn’t going anywhere, and will likely be very involved in web3, from shaping regulation to integrating it on their platforms (think: community tokens, NFTs). For example, Twitter is already exploring ways to add Web3 features to its app.
Web3 continues to progress everyday. Our goal for this article and others is to continue to keep it updated and relevant as more possibilities come to light over the course of 2022.