Web3 — What is it?
A new version of the internet? What does that mean?? Is it even possible? Through the end of 2021 and early part of this year, the buzzword that has taken the internet by storm is Web3, or Web 3.0.
Searching something like “Web3 for dummies”, or “understanding Web3”, results in a handful of takes on what a new version of the internet could look like. However, the current version of the world wide web, Web2, arguably has lots of room for improvement.
Luckily, as decentralized technologies continue to develop, new approaches to the internet seem more and more likely. Let’s dive into what Web3 might bring to the future, and why we need the upgrade!
A Brief History Of The Internet — Web1 vs Web2 vs Web3
Okay, before we get to the premise behind Web3, we’ll give you a high-level explanation of how the internet has evolved to a point where we need it.
When Web1, the first iteration of the internet, was public its users were able to create and visit static pages freely. Business-focused pages were highly popular, though advertisements on websites were a no-no. It was a simpler time, it was a better time… probably.
Web2, the internet we currently operate on, is tailored towards social interaction. Websites can be interactive and dynamic, users can sort information how they like, and perhaps the biggest development is that information flows between the site owner and site users. Also, as we all know, advertising is allowed and is financially incentivised.
Web3 seems to be a combination of the individuality and freedoms we saw in Web1, with improved dynamic capabilities we experience with Web2. Hopefully with Web3, we can do away with the failures of Web2.
The Early Proposal For Web3
Ethereum co-founder, Gavin Wood, came up with the term Web3 when discussing the “need for a zero-trust interaction system” back in 2014. Wood recognized that Web2 was (it still is) regularly manipulated by organizations and governments who are willing to overstep their authority. Hint: that’s Big Tech and any government at this point.
Lightly put, the collection and selling of individuals’ sweet, sweet personal data, the censorship against and regulation of ideas, and the many forms of manipulation employed via social media, shopping, entertainment, browsing, banking, and even online dating are all tactics used by powerful internet conglomerates today.
But don’t freak out just yet! After all, Web3 is meant to redeem the internet from all of the above, and then some.
What Web3 Could Be
The best Web3 examples/hypotheses include blockchain, encryption, and artificial intelligence technologies which protect users from unwarranted tracking, targeting and data collection. In fact, the blockchains the NFTs and other cryptos use currently is why a decentralized Web3 is likely.
Here’s a quick list of possibilities every Web3 site might one day be subject to:
- Semantic AIs to help find information quickly, plus protect against things like bots and click farms. Nice!!
- Web3 sites/information existing as Web3 NFTs which reside on a blockchain to prevent tampering, data rot, censorship, and promote transparency. Oooh la la!!
- Web3 crypto innovations similar to Bit Torrent could further allow users to have control over their personal data. Sweet!!
- Decentralized storage of data would allow a greater audience to enjoy the same internet from anywhere in the world. Welcome to the club!!
- Web3 Tokens could be used to authenticate users. Awesome!!
According to Gavin Wood, the ideal Web3 would offer “static content publication, dynamic messages, trustless transactions and an integrated user interface.” Doesn’t sound too shabby!
Perhaps the major hype around Web3 is an indication of the support it has from internet users around the world. Meeting the needs of web surfers who demand a fairer and morally just internet could be incentive enough for tech giants to trend towards Web3 companies.
Of course, there are also some legit criticisms regarding Web3.
Criticisms of Web3
First, the technology needed to implement all these ideas is not around just yet. Semantic AI that understands natural human language and assists in information discovery is a long way away.
Blockchains, such as Bitcoin’s for example, are entirely transparent, meaning everyone can see absolutely every transaction that has ever taken place. Providing users with anonymity could be a challenge in this regard.
Another criticism regarding blockchains is that they are a bit too slow. The process of retrieving information needs to be reliably quick to maintain user satisfaction, and upgrades to the best, current blockchain model are non-existent as of now.
Conclusion Web3 is a promise for a better internet that has the interest of individuals at heart. Freedom from overstepping govs/orgs through blockchains, NFTs, encryption, and AI is the way there.
Though we’re still far from meeting Web3 technology standards, the future is always closer than we think!