In 2014, Ethereum and Polkadot co-founder and current Gavin Wood coined the term “Web3.” He envisioned it as the future of the internet: A truly democratic, decentralized ecosystem where users take control of their data without worrying about the intervention of central intermediaries or large corporations.
Web 3.0 (Web3) is currently in its early stages, sparking plenty of debate among experts and critics in the crypto community. To understand why, we must delve into the ins and outs of Web3 and what it means for the future of the internet.
Web3 is the third iteration of the World Wide Web (WWW). This upcoming version of web technologies allows users to incorporate concepts like decentralization and token economies into the web.
What’s new with Web3 is that it aims to be owned and controlled by its users. In the current state of the internet, Web 2.0, a few large tech companies like Meta, Google, and Amazon dominate the e-space. They control the rules and system and capture a vast majority of the value generated. With Web3, control is brought back to the users in an open-source, decentralized ecosystem. Web3 ideally provides an egalitarian version of the web that doesn’t involve intermediaries.
To comprehend the full capability of Web3, we must first understand what a decentralized web is and how its evolution differs from previous generations of the internet, Web 1.0 and Web 2.0.
A decentralized web allows the internet to be in control of those who own it instead of the government or corporations.
It accomplishes this by existing on thousands of computer systems worldwide and being governed by open source code. Web 2.0 exists on centralized servers and code that is run is hidden. So if the encrypted server experiences any sort of failure or shuts down, users can still access the data through any of the computers that hold the web's data. To enable this, all infrastructure which exists in a centralized nature is being decentralized. This includes storage, compute, databases, DNS and other internet connectivity.
Naturally, a third iteration of the web means there were two versions before it: Web 1.0 and Web 2.0. Web 1.0 was the very first version of the internet that ran from the 1990s to the early 2000s. Users could access static web pages and download data. However, there wasn't much else to do. Think of Web 1.0 as a digital version of newspapers, magazines, and other forms of physical media. That's what Web 1.0 was: A "read-only," open-source version of the internet.
In contrast, there was a lot more you could do with Web 2.0. Around the mid-2000s, Web 1.0's "read-only" philosophy evolved into a "read/write" version of the internet. Along with downloading data, users could upload information. Popularity of websites like Facebook and YouTube allow people to comment on others' posts, share their own pictures and videos, and interact with each other through online messaging.
In short, Web 2.0 is touted as the social media era of the web. We still exist in this era, albeit Web 2.0 has reached its highest form and is now giving way to Web3. Web3 aims to combine Web 1.0’s open-source ecosystem with the interactive capabilities of Web 2.0 to create a decentralized, user-owned version of the internet.
A decentralized Web3 enables user ownership, meaning that data control, storage, and information transfer will take place across thousands of different computer systems scattered across the world instead of depending on one centralized host server. This also ensures privacy, anonymity, and confidentiality.
Beyond user control, Web3 could operate on a new business model. Web 1.0 existed in a world where advertising brought in most monetary cash flow, while Web 2.0 used data, content, applications, and subscriptions as sales channels. Traditionally, companies like Facebook and Google leveraged user data to generate money through targeted ads. Facebook's rebranding to Meta shows its intention to prepare itself for a “metaversal” world and the following internet iteration in Web3.
Web3 companies plan to monetize by collecting user data while offering free services. This business model differs from Web 2.0 because users won't be charged for services. In Web3, users gain value from owning a share of the products they use in the form of tokens which can be used in the local application’s ecosystem. When applications are utilized more, the shares, or tokens, which enable users to use the systems they use are worth more.
Web3 can upend established industries by giving organizations more autonomy, transparency, and accountability. The unique characteristics of Web3––such as the incorporation of the semantic web, ubiquity, distributed ledger technology (DLT), and smart contracts––can potentially elevate existing business models. A few other significant factors that can influence are:
Similar to how YouTube and Facebook changed the internet’s face in the mid-2000s, the metaverse aims to work on the same philosophy as Web3 and become its ecosystem’s central figure.
“Metaverse” is not a new term. It’s been around since 1992. The term became popular after Facebook rebranded itself as “Meta” in 2021. But what is the metaverse, and how is it related to Web3?
The metaverse is an ecosystem of virtual realities where 2D elements from Web 2.0 become 3D elements. In simple terms, instead of surfing the web, scrolling through pages, and clicking on different buttons, you experience content in 3D. With Web3, users can own the items and coins that they earn in the metaverse, allowing for greater composability and increased transparency.
Video games are a popular way to understand the metaverse. Instead of using a controller and a screen, you could put on a virtual reality (VR) headset and experience an immersive, in-game, real-life simulation where you walk around and interact with the game's different elements. Besides VR, the metaverse aims to combine augmented reality (AR), mixed reality (MR), social media, blockchain technology, entertainment, gaming, and more in one platform.
Web3 is anticipated to bring various changes to its predecessors, in turn contributing to the internet’s evolution. To understand how it affects us, we must break down the main aspects that define Web3, such as:
Web3 builds on the features its predecessors provided and brings several useful applications that make it so appealing to users. Let’s look at a few examples to understand why people consider Web3 the future of the internet.
Despite multiple applications and features, Web3 has a few drawbacks. It's garnered plenty of criticism from high-profile figures in the tech space. Tesla founder Elon Musk called Web3 a "marketing buzzword," while former Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey raised concerns over its transparency.
Many projects are using the hype around it to raise millions of dollars without sound plans or utility. Many are building Web3 just to build Web3 instead of doing so because it provides advantages over implementing in different ways to Web 2.0. Also, many of the business models remain unproven.
Web3 is a new concept that hasn’t come to fruition yet. In that light, a question that lingers on in the crypto community is whether Web3 will be successful and integrated into the mainstream. Will governments intervene? Is it even a better world than Web2?
It’s difficult to say. Web3 is in its early days where individuals can debate Web3’s pros as much as they can its cons. Until then, it’s an evolution in progress.
Whether Web3 is the future of the internet, we’ll let the advancements decide, but something that’s confirmed is Worldcoin’s goal to give a share of its coins to everyone worldwide. Subscribe to our blog to know more!