You probably never considered the internet you use every day to be “version 2.0” of anything until recently, times are changing, and the massive network that brings us all together is too! If you’ve heard about Web3 and are curious, hopefully I can shed some light on it.
So is Web3 just a cool buzzword, or is there more to it than that?
Let’s begin by reviewing the history of the internet as we know it today. The internet was in its fledgling stage, or Web 1.0, from the early 1990s until roughly 2005, right around the time Facebook started becoming popular on campuses throughout the world. The internet was slowly and gradually becoming a thing that more and more people were using. Many more than the early days of dialup. With the growing world of social media and the need of people to be in contact with each other, this new resource was being utilised to bring people together in new and innovative ways.
Web 1.0 was founded on the principles of open protocols (such as HTTP and TCP/IP) and community involvement in the development process. Anyone could construct a website, though they were much harder to construct than the ones of today, mainly being coded. There weren’t easy solutions like Squarespace and Wix. – Though WordPress on which this website was built was in it’s infancy and a nightmare at the time to use…
The social interaction that we take for granted today such as on Facebook, LinkedIn and other social media, where individuals can contribute material within bigger networks of peers, was not yet available. As a result, most internet users did not have the opportunity to engage significantly in the creation of content, and hence did not benefit from much of the monetary value generated.
Web 2.0 was founded on the belief that social interaction and user-generated content are critical components of network value creation. Regardless of your age, for many of us, this is the only internet we’ve ever known, because it’s the internet experience we have grown up with and spend our time interacting with constantly. Interestingly, while Web 2.0 brought numerous hours of amusement, simple access to educational content, less educational content such as the occasional cat video, and the ability to express ourselves in digital forums of like-minded persons, there were several things left out. So, if there is a Web3, will it be a simple update to Web2 or a comprehensive overhaul? In some ways, it’s both. Web3 is just the next step in the internet’s evolution. It combines Web1’s goals with Web2’s creative and social features, as well as decentralization’s technology and ideas.
Interoperability and Ownership
While Web 2.0 aspired to link more individuals to socially connected networks of content and information, it refused to share the financial gains with its members. YouTube or Facebook would place advertisements in front of user-created videos without necessarily returning any of the revenue to the author. Character skins, in-game objects, and virtual currency purchased in online video games could not be sold or transferred to other users. Digital art may be shared on social media sites such as Instagram, Tumblr, and Pinterest, but the user would struggle to profit from the content they laboured over. There were some techniques that allowed these processes to take place but they were complicated to implement and often resulted in legal issues.
Worse, because digital identification and proof-of-ownership issues have yet to be resolved, imitation and theft have spread like wildfire, and, because even fundamental features like account verification are authorised by centralised forces, with little to benefit from investing in due diligence, little is frequently done to prevent these huge issues.
Web 3.0 addresses these concerns by utilising one of the most cutting-edge computer science technologies: blockchain.
So What is a Blockchain?
A blockchain is simply a public record of information where all network operators — those willing to invest the capital and equipment required to confirm transactions — verify new entries. It’s a weapon for preventing fraud, censorship, and power consolidation. It’s no surprise, then, that Web3 is built on this technology.
Users utilise a secure digital wallet like Metamask, (which I believe is the most popular,) that acts as a keycard to gain access to special privileges across the modern internet, or the metaverse, as some refer to it. This keycard can verify the authenticity of your profile image on different websites. It can validate your identification to avoid fraud and open up options for platform governance engagement. It can enable you to access paid content on a website by allowing you to sign in (like a subscription but without usernames or passwords). All of this can be done without breaching your privacy. I started having to learn how to use Metamask when I started to play God’s Unchained.
Builders, content creators, and users may all profit from the value they create online as a result of this interoperable digital identity and ownership. While huge, centralised corporations served as gatekeepers in Web2 and reaped the majority of the value created, in Web3, anybody can gain.