People around the world have reaped the benefits of the World Wide Web. This includes communication, information, and business revolution, just to name a few. However, what can and cannot be done on the web is decided on by a select few, thus the control of content is centralized.
This is what gave rise to what we now know as Web3. Instead of having an online space manipulated solely by large tech corporations, Web3 advocates decentralization, making the actual users the creators, consumers, and owners altogether. This model gives the power to each individual instead of just a few entities.
Let’s find out how Web3 came to be.
History of the Web
To better appreciate what Web3 has to offer, let’s look into how the Web has evolved over the years. What we’re seeing right now is far different from how it was before, and it is on the verge of yet another change with Web3.
Back in 1989, Tim Berners-Lee conceptualized the first inception of the World Wide Web. He envisioned a protocol that would allow information dissemination throughout the world.
It was in 1990 that this idea was brought to fruition. Known as Web 1.0, it introduced static websites that were owned by institutions or companies that wanted their message to be heard. There was zero interaction during this time, thus it is called the “read-only web”, and lasted up until 2004.
Web 2.0 is what we see the web as now – an online space filled with interaction. It began in 2004 when social media platforms were launched. As such, it allowed common users to share their own thoughts as well as converse online. This conversation gave rise to user-generated content as well as advertising.
While it was an iteration that gave users some sort of say, it didn’t give ownership or direct monetization. Rather, the content and proceeds are owned by the platforms themselves, thus Web 2.0 is known as the “read-write web”.
The Dawn of Web3
The concept of Web 2.0 makes everyone vulnerable, in such a way that we give too much control and trust to a few private companies to handle our transactions and information. What if individuals did it for themselves? This is what launched Web3, a term that Ethereum co-founder Gavin Wood coined, the same time when Ethereum was introduced in 2014.
Web3 is a broad concept that refers to how we revolutionize the web. The goal of Web3 is that ownership is given back to the users instead of third parties or large companies. Simply put, Web3 is a “read-write-own model”, which is a huge difference from Web 1.0 and 2.0.
While it is difficult to give Web3 a concrete definition, it has some core characteristics that make it recognizable.
First, Web3 is decentralized, in such a way that the ownership is with every builder and user, in stark contrast to Web 2.0 which awards it to a few entities. It is also permissionless, which means anyone and everyone can participate. It doesn’t use traditional means of payment, rather it has its own native structure via cryptocurrencies. Lastly, Web3 removes the need for third-parties, and instead works by using economic mechanisms and incentives, making it trustless.
Why Web3 is Important
There are plenty of reasons why Web3 is essential to the ever-changing demands of our time, but let’s look into the most pressing ones.
1. Ownership of Digital Assets
In traditional Web 2.0 platforms, whatever assets you have in your account with them is technically not yours. For example, when you play a game and you have skins or other in-game items, they may be linked to your account, but they still own them. So if they decide to retire the game, they can do so without having to compensate you.
That’s not the case for Web3. In a Web3 ecosystem, the digital assets are yours in the form of non-fungible tokens (NFTs). You have full control over those, and you can sell them in open markets on a whim.
2. Freedom from Censorship
Back in August 2021, content creators were enraged when OnlyFans announced that they will be banning sexually explicit content from their platform. This caused an understandable backlash, as the majority of the platforms’ creators deal with adult content. While the decision was reversed, this just showed how powerless users are in a Web 2.0, as the platform’s owners can just censor content right then and there.
Web3, on the other hand, allows you to grow your reputation the way you see fit since your data is on the blockchain. If you decide a Web3 platform isn’t working for you anymore, you can simply take your data and connect it to one that you prefer without issue.
3. Single Login Across Platforms
In today’s digital world, each person will have an account for almost every online platform there is, such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and TiKToK, just to name a few. And you’ll need to have separate login credentials for each since they will own your data, and that means a possible breach in your identity.
Meanwhile, Web3 veers away from such by providing you a single login across platforms. This is in the form of an Ethereum address as well as an ENS domain that’s uniquely yours.
4. Native Payment Options
The current payment options that we have are with traditional currencies via banks and other external institutions. Web3 smashes this structure through native tokens such as Bitcoin and ETH, doing away with trusted third parties to proceed with transactions.
Web3 still feels like a dream turning into a reality. As a matter of fact, concepts that were introduced by Gavin Wood way back in 2014 are only becoming possible today. With plenty of interest in Web3’s ecosystem, we can only expect that it will grow larger and faster, with its influence affecting most of our everyday routines soon enough.