Many are touting that the new age of the internet is here and that Web3 will revolutionise the internet as we know it. Web3 promises important improvements to freedom, ownership and the democratisation of the internet that will benefit everyone who uses it, rather than just those who own the centralised systems that run Web 2.0. But is this promised future really going to deliver on its promises, or even come to fruition at all?
So far, most of us have only been exposed to Web3 through the use of cryptocurrency and Non-Fungible Tokens, or NFTs, which have not had the most stellar of reputations and have had a turbulent history. Nonetheless, Web3 is still a developing field, and there is plenty of untapped potential that Web3 can provide. We’ll be exploring the underlying principles and mechanisms that Web3 operates on, and gain a better understanding of what a future with Web3 may be.
What does Web3 even mean?
Its common usage is often reduced to a buzzword to refer to anything new relating to the blockchain, but Web3 is a huge, paradigm-shifting concept in the way we view and use the internet. Web3 aims to decentralise the internet through the use of blockchain technology.
With recent reports on data leaks and new information regarding the usage of our private information online by big corporations and governments, we live in a world where our online security is becoming of paramount importance. No organisation or government can be intrinsically trusted with all of our information, and Web3 provides the ability to protect our data and sever our overreliance on the deeply centralised online systems that leave us vulnerable and ripe for exploitation.
Web3 aims to redistribute ownership of the internet, where everyone has an equal stake in the online space, free from the motives of a small number of individuals and entities. This democratisation of the internet is a fundamental principle of Web3 and poses many benefits over the current web 2.0 system that we are currently reliant on.
What makes Web3 tick
There are a few fundamental principles that Web3 operates on, and what drives its development forward.
Ownership of data
In the current Web 2.0 internet, the services you use to collect and store your private information in their own database, and are oftentimes sold to other entities for the use of advertising or other purposes. This poses a huge risk to any user of the internet, where their critical data can be obtained by incompetent companies with lax compliance to information privacy or nefarious entities.
Web 3.0 aims to address this security and privacy invasion through the storage of your data on your crypto wallet. This means that your wallet will serve as your point of contact between yourself and the services you intend to use online, and your data will not be stored by the services that you use. This gives you complete control over who you want to share your data with, or if you even want to share your data at all, for monetary reasons or otherwise.
Web3 aims to provide security through the storage of your data on your crypto wallet, thereby divorcing your information from the storage of online services. Another byproduct of storing information separately in this way is that you also remain anonymous while online, as well. Because these online services will only access your information through your crypto wallet, they only know you through your wallet number or identification.
That means that though everyone can see what transactions are taking place on the wallet, they will not be able to tie that wallet to a specific individual. Though there are efforts in the Web3 space to develop software that can track illegal activity, day-to-day usage will remain untouched and unknown. There are certain blockchains that are only able to track a transaction taking place, but will not be able to identify which wallets are interacting in that transaction as well.
The democratisation of the internet
The internet of Web 2.0 is owned not by the users of the internet, but by the few firms and organisations that own the means of hosting internet services. This means that in order to access large parts of the internet, you will need to subject yourself to the scrutiny of these entities at all times, who will also collect all your data for their own uses.
In Web 3, the development of Decentralised Autonomous Organisations, or DAOs, will be used in order to facilitate the hosting of internet services. DAOs are owned and operated by no one single entity, but rather by every user of the DAO. They will facilitate decision-making and policy setting through the use of governance tokens, that members of the DAO can use to cast a vote on decisions on how the dApp will be run and what rules they enforce. DAOs use smart contracts that can tabulate votes and ensure proper results and changes are made without human intervention. DAOs have their source code publicly available and able to be scrutinised by anybody who wishes to, meaning that everything is kept transparent and users are informed of the inner workings of the DAO.
This is different from Web 2.0, where changes to a policy of online services are decided and made by shareholders of the entities that control these online services. This means that decisions that they make will likely focus on benefitting not the actual users of the services, but rather those that own the means of controlling the internet that benefit instead. By allowing users to effect change on the platforms they want to use.
Web3 promises to provide more options for consumers so that they can better protect their data and privacy online, free from the entities that aim to gather your information to further their profits. Though Web3 can’t realistically replace Web 2.0 anytime soon, Web3 offers users the ability to meaningfully impact the online spaces that they inhabit, and ensure that the users are protected.