Back in 2014, computer scientist and Ethereum co-founder Gavin Wood introduced the term “Web 3.0” to the world, sharing a glimpse of what may be the World Wide Web’s future.
Now more popularly known as Web3, it has since been the talk of the online world, so much that tech giants like Tesla CEO Elon Musk and Twitter founder Jack Dorsey have been sharing their thoughts on what they think this exciting concept means.
While their opinions are, in some ways, true, Wood further points out what Web3 is, and how he thinks it will change the internet as we see it.
What is Web3?
The current web can still be improved, and Wood thinks Web3 is the next step. He characterizes it as a revolutionized internet where everyone’s voices are heard through decentralization.
If Web 2.0 brings us services and apps that are hosted by a few tech giants, Web3 aims to innovate by transferring control to every user and builder there is who participates in this ecosystem. The algorithm is up, then everyone can contribute and work together, creating the ultimate web services that benefit everybody’s needs and tastes. So, in a manner of speaking, Web3 is owned by everyone, thus, it is dubbed the read-write-own version of the Web.
So, if we translate this analogy to the current structure, all data we add to our Facebook profiles, while is attributed to the user, is still owned by the platform. With a Web3 version, you create the reputation and own it at the same time, thus no one has an advantage over the other.
The Misses of the Current Web
When the internet started with Web 1.0, there was practically nothing to do but read static pages of companies who aim to make their messages or brands known by the global audience. There’s no way to interact.
That changed when Web 2.0 came to be, which is the version that we currently know of. The conversation among individuals and parties lead to conversions, creating a trillion dollar technology that consumers and creators enjoy.
While the service is good, it then leads to the question of what happens when the service enjoyed by many is suddenly gone. And because the most used platforms are controlled by large tech companies, we as users have no say on what happens not just to the service, but also to our online identity. We’ve managed to give so much power to forces behind the scenes while we strip ourselves of ownership.
All those concerns and more are what brought the idea of Web3 to life.
The Core of Web3
Both the concept and the application of Web3 can sound complicated to a first timer. So to make it simpler, we need to understand its core, and that is blockchain.
Web3’s technology, along with its many possibilities, is heavily reliant on a string of transactions found on blockchain. Think of it as a transparent ledger that is seen by everyone who take part in this advanced online ecosystem.
Furthermore, transactions on the blockchain are usually enacted through native currencies known as cryptocurrencies. The most well-known example of which is Bitcoin. But unlike traditional currencies managed and issued by an entity like a central bank, cryptocurrencies aren’t, and are instead maintained by users, specifically a global team of people who keep everything going. And even their ranks aren’t exclusive, rather it is open to all, thus staying true to Web3’s vision of decentralization.
In the same spirit of decentralization, Web3 is also known as a trustless model. Users won’t have to rely on trusted companies to carry out transactions for them, rather everything is done through algorithms visible to anyone and everyone.
While the concepts sound enticing, there are still risks. Regardless, the fact that Web3 is built on a democratic model, it poses beautiful possibilities.
How Web3 Services Would Look Like
To better visualize how Web3 services would change how we see the internet, it’s best to compare it with what we already know. For example, how would social media platforms operate in a Web3 environment.
Wood said that, for starters, it would be much easier to verify your account. This is because the cryptographic-based proofs would more or less be enough to determine your identity. In turn, this makes it close to impossible for anyone to fake their accounts to look like someone else.
Furthermore, a Web3 version of social media platforms would boast a greater level of freedom in terms of content and speech. There are no gatekeepers to the system, since the system itself is democratic and owned by the user. If a platform doesn’t satisfy your needs, you can pull your data and just move to another service with ease.
Tech Giants and Web3
With Web3 distancing itself from the traditional centralized approach of Web 2.0, there are those who think the large tech companies may be challenged, and ultimately ended, by this upcoming revolution. This is, considering that they have benefited the most from the centralized nature of the current Web setup.
That, however, is not the case. As a matter of fact, giants like Microsoft and Twitter are known to be largely interested in Web3, and have begun investing in it. If anything, they have also seen its potential and are gearing towards this inevitable change. The only difference is that the playing field is leveled, given the decentralized nature of Web3. As such, they won’t be seen as “large players”, but rather as one of the many users and builders of this new ecosystem.
When Gavin Wood coined the term back in 2014, everything was still conceptual and dream-like. But with the fast pace of Web3’s uptake, not just by common users, but also by tech companies, it seems that the future is closing in. The only hope is that it will live up to its purpose, which is to fulfill the varied needs of every user and the ever-changing situation.