What is Web3?
In our current Web (Web 2.0), centralised entities such as Amazon and Google have immense power and control over vast amounts of the centralised platforms on the internet. Web3, however, is proposed to be a democratised version of the internet that allows users to have a say in its operation, governance and maintenance. Essentially, it will focus on security and user ownership.
How has the web evolved?
Web 2.0 is the version of the internet we are most familiar with today. It has come a long way from the first version of the web, Web 1.0 (the original World Wide Web), which was almost entirely a static web with read-only content. Today, many websites and applications allow users to change and create content, which means anyone with an internet connection can share content and connect with anyone from around the world. Web 2.0 has led to the creation of popular websites and apps we use today, such as Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube.
How will Web3 be different?
There are a variety of theories for what the future of the internet will look like and how it will differ from Web 2.0. The concept of Web3 was introduced in 2014 by Ethereum co-founder Gavin Wood when he outlined his vision for the future of the internet as a decentralised token-based system that utilises blockchain technology. This idea and the term ‘Web3’ has become an internet buzzword recently since high-profile technologists like Elon Musk and Jack Dorsey have also started to debate what the shift from our current web to Web3 will mean. At its core, however, the idea is to have a decentralised and democratic version of the current web. This means the power is passed to the user from large corporations like Google, Amazon, and Microsoft, who control and manage many of the centralised platforms in Web 2.0.
What’s wrong with Web 2.0?
When the web was born, Web 1.0 was a fully decentralised infrastructure, with no one entity controlling it. However, Web 2.0 has led to the creation of billion-dollar companies that are now monopolistic giants owning many of the centralised platforms we use daily. These large companies provide us with ‘free’ services that our society is now extremely reliant on, like email, search engines and social media. Unfortunately, our reliance on these services means we are at the mercy of these companies. As while, they don’t outwardly charge us for these services; instead, they collect payment by gathering massive amounts of our personal information and data. For example, these corporations can track our browsing history, allowing valuable marketing insights to be collected, resulting in targeted ads. In Web 2.0, we regularly have no choice but to hope and trust that our data is kept secure and not misused; unfortunately, Web 2.0 regularly experiences data breaches and hacks.
What could Web3 mean for online business?
In Web3, all data and transactions will be stored on decentralised blockchains, making them a source of truth for everything we do on the internet. These blockchains will ultimately become the most valuable data source in the world. The blockchain technology would require users to have private keys if they wish to own a dataset, meaning Web3 would offer better security, transparency, and accountability for businesses and users, and be far less vulnerable to attack. Expensive data centres will be a thing of the past, and users will have control over their data and who has access to it. The benefits of Web3 for businesses are as follows:
No third-party required
Improved regulation compliance
Improved customer relations
Supply chain management
What do the critics think of Web3?
Despite the benefits of Web3, not everyone is on board. Jack Dorsey, the co-founder of Twitter, has been rather vocal online about the potential pitfalls of Web3. Dorsey believes that as Web3's popularity has grown and many corporations and businesses have noticed its potential, it will in fact not be users that have ownership. He has stated that businesses, particularly Venture Capitalists and Limited Partners, will make it a centralised entity with a different name, ultimately meaning they have control, not the user. Despite this, Dorsey does advocate for the use of blockchain technology and has discussed creating his own decentralised web platform titled 'Web5'.
Is Web3 the future of the web?
Overall Web3 appeals to some more than others, and not everyone agrees on whether this should be the next version of the web we move towards. At the moment, Web3 and blockchain technologies have a lot of backing from Venture Capitalists and those heavily invested in cryptocurrency and financial markets. However, for Web3 to become the future of the web, a lot of online infrastructure within our current Web 2.0 would have to be restructured and redesigned. One thing we can be sure of, however, the evolution of the next world wide web is inevitable, but precisely what this means is yet to be decided.