Humans need other humans. No matter how independent or introverted you are, the presence of another person is necessary for your mental health.
And one of the most influential things the internet has catalyzed is our ability to interact with each other. By ability I mean convenience. You can call someone on the other side of the world and speak as if you’re not thousands of miles away.
It’s fascinating to think about how technology has prioritized human connection without having to deliberately spell it out. Our subconscious demands connection, and this is an intrinsic quality that can’t be taught but only is felt.
Community is center-stage and the impact is evident. The Web 3 movement aims to dissolve central entities dictating what you can or can’t do. There is an upsurge of people taking control of what’s theirs and Web 3 is leading the charge.
But before we get into what Web 3.0 can achieve, we need to understand what it is.
Ethereum this. Blockchain that. A truckload of terms is being thrown around on the internet but what we’re dealing with is nascent, and in some ways inexplicable.
Although it might sound cool to say that you’ve just invested in cryptocurrencies, or bought a cyrptopunk NFT - you should never dive head-first into waters you don’t know.
And before we uncover the world of decentralized apps and smart contracts, let’s understand what Web 3.0 is.
Matter of fact, let's go back to when the internet started in the first place.
The beginning of the internet - Web 1.0
The “read-only” era of the Web or Web 1.0 was a very different time. If you want to, today you can leave a comment on this blog and start a conversation, but 20 years ago, even the idea of communicating with strangers around the world was like mankind’s hopes of landing on Mars someday.
The static internet was an easily accessible encyclopedia that people could refer to. There were no algorithms back then, no advertisements, just loosely built websites with marquee texts and flashing stickers.
Enter Web 2.0.
The era of communication - Web 2.0
Facebook, Twitter, and Google took over the internet. Interactions became a common thing. You could message a stranger on the other side of the planet and receive a text back in real-time.
Simply enabling interactions revolutionized evolution itself. The ability to break physical barriers of communication trumped countless roadblocks we collectively had as a species. This era truly was another giant leap for mankind.
Interactions paved the path for improved content creation. More content creation meant more content consumption, and that led tech giants to become the centralized commodities for managing and storing data.
Today, you can have a community of people who you’ve never met before yet still collaborate with them seamlessly. Despite the fruits that Web 2 bore for us, the real winners during this entire charade were entities who capitalized on the readily available data.
In the midst of developing the internet and deepening the digital “web”, internet services moved from attracting users to extracting them, and all this is within the confines of what we signed up for.
The post-truth era now has surfaced the facts that became the basis for Web 3.0. As we enter the next phase of the internet - like coming to grips with any other new thing - the chaos before the calm ensues with a sense of doubt and with more questions than there are answers to.
Web 3.0 - An intelligent upgrade for an intelligent world
Think of this newly formed web as a way to take control of your data. The essence of Web 3.0 is the transition towards a decentralized peer-to-peer network of users (computers) from the centralized internet we’re used to.
If you’re still unclear, think of it this way - when you perform a Google search or upload a picture on Instagram, you’re interacting with a central database being controlled by an entity.
What the new web does is that it allows a multitude of communicating services to do the same thing but without the presence of an intermediary (a central entity) to govern your data. In return for these interactions, users receive certain “tokens” that hold value within the boundaries of a decentralized community of network peers.
Building on blockchain technology, Web 3.0 can be thought of as the real-world equivalent of a democratic society but there are no governments, no presidents, just the people operating individually (yet collectively) in an open network.
But, what’s blockchain?
The reason why cryptocurrencies like bitcoin and ether soared through the roof is exactly because of blockchain. Without the need for a third-party “middleman”, blockchain ensures the authenticity of data.
Blockchain is the technology that gives shape to what were once just theoretical concepts. It’s a technology that utilizes a network of computers or nodes as a distributed database for information. As the network expands, so does the database, and the interactions that contrive within.
As the name suggests, in a blockchain, all the information is stored in blocks and each of these blocks has a storage capacity. Once each block is filled, it gets closed and then linked to another subsequent block eventually forming a chain of blocks. All the blocks that are created have the compiled information of all the blocks that were created before it. This makes them highly reliable in terms of data storage and originality.
How is Web 3.0 different?
Tim Berners Lee originally coined the name ‘Semantic web’ before it was re-iterated to Web 3.0. One of the titular characteristics of this Web is the ability to understand emotions in language and not just differentiate based on keywords. Keywords rule content creation today, but with semantics in the picture, things become more human.
Artificial Intelligence will also be the focus here. Decision-making will be a lot more automated than manual. Intelligent systems will provide for better internet experiences, with increased relevance and improved interactivity.
Augmented and virtual reality. With digital assets gaining more and more traction by the day, the 3D animated virtual world will become the stepping stone into Web 3.0.
Web 3.0 will become ubiquitous, or in other words, omnipresent. Once you take control of your data in a decentralized system, there’s a high chance that all your devices will be connected in some way or another, to the web. Somehow, your life will always be intertwined with the internet.
Why Web 3.0 can relay the onset of a better future
Imagine that you meet a high-ranking officer directly without having to go through his assistant first. That’s what web 3.0 aims to achieve by taking the power back from tech giants and giving it to the people.
Web 3.0 will enable us to interact with any computer in the world without having to pass through fee-charging third parties. Purchases won’t be fixed anymore. It’s what you and the other party decide that finally gets written into the database.
On a much influential scale, this gives rise to the introduction of decentralized autonomous organizations (DAOs) enabling newer business models that were unimaginable up until now.
DAOs are synonymous with community-powered growth and it also becomes the root of the tree that Web 3 will grow into.
Let’s take the case of ConstitutionDAO for instance. What started as an internet meme ended up raising $47 million for a singular purpose - to purchase the United States Constitution. Although they lost the auction, this lead to the birth of their own cryptocurrency - PEOPLE. And the rest is history.
Take Odyssey as another incredible DAO. It offers learning capabilities to anyone who wants to get educated on decentralized networks and Web 3. They believe Web 3 education should be free and are on a mission to get a million people to get on Web 3.
Examples like these paint a picture of what Web 3 is capable of achieving.
Here are a few takeaways:
Web 3.0 will become the playground for budding entrepreneurs to take complete control and ownership of their assets.
Organizations will become internally more robust without the dependence on central governments and rules dictating authorities.
An intelligent era of communication where the virtual world keeps getting more dynamic and tailor-made for individuals who are a part of it.
Constituents that comprise a society will be powered by each other, alleviating the need for third parties.
Support for a higher level of anonymity. This means that you don’t have to expose your identity or personal information to make a transaction.
Web 3.0, as a result, is a lot more transparent, a lot more coherent, and a lot more appropriate for the world we’ll be entering soon enough.
Hear it from Chris Dixon himself - check out this thread👇
Web 3.0 in all its glory
Most internet-active people are not oblivious to all this crypto and NFT talk. You must’ve heard your favorite celebrities talk about it. Facebook’s recent rebranding to Meta has got the heads turning, Metaverse - which only seemed like something out of a sci-fi film up until only a few years ago - has now become a reality we can experience on our own. The icing on the cake is the $10 billion investment Facebook (Meta) has made in the Metaverse and its market cap is expected to reach $800 billion by 2024.
Owning digital assets is becoming the next big thing. People are buying digital land, yachts, real estate - virtually anything that can be bought or traded in the real world.
Opensea’s recent funding of $300 million propelled its valuation to a whopping $13.3 billion. Honestly, with some NFTs selling for millions of dollars, this doesn’t come as much of a surprise either.
At this rate, Web 3 is launching itself on a one-way road to success, and there’s no looking back.
With Web 3.0, there are no censorships, no controlling authority. Everything and anything is possible.
For instance - Twitter can take down your tweet if it’s offensive or inappropriate, but on Web 3.0 you can write anything and it can’t be censored because there’s no ‘Twitter’ who controls what goes on or what doesn’t.
The same can hold for payments. On Web 2.0, payments services or applications can keep you from not doing any transactions but on Web 3.0, payments cannot be prevented.
But like the Ying-Yang, nothing good can exist without the bad. Web 3.0 also doesn't exist without limitations.
Transactions are slower on Web 3 because changes in a state like in the case of payments require to be updated on every node on the network. This can take time.
Limited adoption or integration across modern-day browsers or Web 2 applications. This makes accessibility difficult.
Blockchain is expensive and at times not feasible because creating a new block or network node means compiling huge amounts of data which can take days to commit. This makes working with blockchain projects difficult.
Decentralization can sometimes be a double-edged sword because at times coordination becomes tedious or difficult, as there is no single point of contact or a single source of truth in a peer-to-peer network. This can lead to chaos.
The road ahead
Dryhurst admits that explaining Web 3 can be complicated since it's a loosely explicable term that takes on a slightly different shape depending on who is defining it. This can be the case for any new technology, especially if there’s a lot more to be discovered than there is that can be viable for the real world.
The future of Web 3 is bright, but not absolute. What’s not been actively recognized in this article is that Web 2 is already ubiquitous and there’s a lot more that we do that goes beyond social media and messaging. Internet is a hub of information highly intertwined with each of our lives. The world almost entirely depends on it and the chances of tech giants like Google or Amazon becoming obsolete is not even anywhere close to the horizon.
Perhaps, tech companies will also adapt to Web 3 services to stay relevant, like Meta.
The current-case scenario is that Web 2 and Web 3 will co-exist in the internet ecosystem each thriving in the presence of each other. Or maybe the lines between the two will eventually blur into what might become unfathomable for this moment.
Either way, a paradigm shift is inevitable, and in a way necessary, because change is the only thing that doesn’t change.
Here are a few resources if you want to dive deeper into the world of Web 3.0, blockchain, and cryptocurrencies 👇
In the words of Vitalik Buterin himself (Founder of Ethereum) - The meaning of decentralization
Preethi Kasireddy explains Web 3.0 like no one else - The architecture of a Web 3.0 application
Shermin Voshmgir - Web3, Blockchain, cryptocurrency: a threat or an opportunity?
Juan Benet - What exactly is Web3? - at the Web3 summit 2018