What Is Web3: Ultimate Guide
The internet is currently in the middle of an evolutionary phase. This new internet is referred to as Web3. With the introduction of blockchain technology and decentralized application development, the term Web 3.0 has been making rounds in the tech space. This new version of the internet promises to address the shortfalls of the current version of the web. The question is, what exactly is Web 3.0? In this article, we will try to answer this question by taking a look at all things relating to Web 3.0, including defining what Web 3.0 is, and how it improves upon the foundation left by its predecessors.
What is Web 3.0?
Web 3.0 is the name some technologists have given to the idea of a new kind of internet service that is built using decentralized blockchains — the shared ledger systems used by cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ether.
Web 3.0 would rely on blockchain technology, as well as artificial intelligence, to break big tech companies’ stranglehold on the internet and return it to regular people. Though it’s still a bit of a utopia, since much of the technology needed for Web 3.0 is in its infancy, it’s an attractive vision for anybody who is concerned about the dominance of huge companies like Meta and their desire to control how people experience the internet.
To better understand the benefits of Web 3.0, let’s take a look at the earlier generations of the internet: Web 1.0 and Web 2.0.
Web 1.0 and Web 2.0
Web 1.0 was the first publicly available web. In this period, the internet was mostly just a collection of read-only pages, without any real interactivity. Also, the vast majority of sites were operated by individuals or small companies. Internet giants didn’t exist yet—not really, anyway.
That changed with Web 2.0, which started from around 2004. Not only did sites become interactive in Web 2.0—social media and the like—but large companies took over the internet.
The Rise of Internet Companies In Web 2.0
The ability to contribute to the content available online expanded what was possible using the internet. People were now able to interact not only with the content online but also with other people online. This resulted in a number of companies building social networks online where friends and families could connect and chat with each other using the internet. The most well-known social media platform to rise to dominance during Web 2.0 is Facebook.
There are multiple other use cases that were, and still are being, explored in Web 2.0. The second most popular use case is e-commerce, where people can buy and sell goods online. This gives them access and reaches to a wider audience that they were never able to reach before. The most popular e-commerce platform is Amazon, of course.
The Major Problem With Web 2.0
The new interactive web comes at a price. While it’s great that we can contribute content to online sites in Web 2.0, these sites also collect data and information about us. The content we put online through posts on social media platforms, the information we search for, and even the products we buy on e-commerce sites all tell online companies more about us, allowing them to better understand our preferences to create content that we are more likely to engage with.
Originally, this was beneficial for the internet users as they could browse a web that was customized specifically for them. However, the more we continued to browse web 2.0, the more companies started using us as products - turning the whole web 2.0 into a data farm.
By understanding who we are, what we like, and what content we were more likely to engage with, companies were able to generate profiles of us. Using these profiles, these companies were able to offer targeted advertisements to other companies and businesses. Targeted advertising has proven to be more effective in obtaining higher click rates as opposed to conventional advertising channels, simply because advertisements were categorized and only shown to users who were more likely to engage and react to the advertisement - leading to a sale.
Apart from Web 2.0 turning the internet into a data farm, there is also the problem of all of our data sitting on company servers. Although heavily protected with the latest cybersecurity protocols, these servers are somewhat at risk of being hacked. If someone were to hack these servers, they would have access to all of our information to the point where they would know us better than we know ourselves because of profiles created of us by the company that they hacked. Using this information they could know things like where we live, the people in our family, our social status, etc. There is no telling what they could do with all of this information!
Although Web 2.0 became a more customized and interactive web when compared to web 1.0, the upgraded experience came at a cost and turned internet users into a collective data farm. During this era, the companies that were able to extract the most information about their users became monopolies and currently generate large revenues through targeted advertisements. With this being the case, internet users need a more decentralized web where their identity and other personal information are protected. Queue Web 3.0.
Web 3.0 vs Web 2.0
Social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook can censor any account, post, or tweet if they feel that the content published violates any of their policies. What’s more, centralized payment service providers also have the ability to restrict certain payments. On the other hand, due to its decentralization, Web 3.0 is completely censorship-resistant, this means that no central third party can restrict any user or any user activity.
No Server Downtime
Centralized platforms have a server infrastructure that is more vulnerable to cyber-attacks and potential downtime - which is both an inconvenience and a security risk to the end-user. Since the servers in Web 3.0 are part of a decentralized network, there is no central point of attack or vulnerability for a cybercriminal to exploit. Furthermore, the decentralized network suffers a lot less downtime since there are 1000s of servers/computers globally that maintain the network or application, as opposed to the handful of servers that make up centralized networks and applications.
Control Over Personal Information
Since user information is stored on the blockchain, it can only be viewed by the person who holds the linked private key, which is always the person to who the information belongs to. With this being the case, each person on the network has full control over their data - including how it is used and who can view it.
How Will Web 3.0 be Achieved?
Web 3.0 will combine several technologies, mainly blockchain technology, and artificial intelligence.
Blockchains will be used to store user data on distributed ledgers instead of centralized company servers, as is currently the case. This will keep users anonymous and their associated data and information encrypted - giving the person who owns the data control back over how their data is used. This will also impact the current revenue models of the existing tech monopolies in the market.
Artificial intelligence will be used to process the large amounts of data stored in the blockchain to deliver a customized Web 3.0 experience without requiring intervention from centralized third parties. Although both Web 2.0 and Web 3.0 incorporate artificial intelligence to achieve an optimized user experience, the motive behind Web 3.0’s use of artificial intelligence is to deliver on what Web 2.0 promised, and more, without companies selling the data that they collected on us.
Another key technology that is made possible due to blockchain technology is a Decentralized Autonomous Organization, or DAO. A DAO is basically an organization wherein anyone that holds the native cryptocurrency of the organization has the power to vote on key policies and the operations of the DAO. DAOs will work alongside blockchain’s distributed ledger capabilities to form the foundation of Web 3.0., and will also allow anyone who holds native tokens to vote on or for any changes that are made to content producing platforms online. As more people join the DAO, the price of the DAOs token will rise, too, creating a financial incentive for DAO members to build new features online and participate in the voting process.
Web 3.0 will consist of multiple DAOs with communities supporting each. These DAOs will each represent a platform online and will be maintained and controlled by their community.
What Is Web3: Conclusion
Web3 is the latest iteration of the internet and aims to create a truly decentralized, immersive, and customized web through the combination of several technologies, including blockchain technology, artificial intelligence, DAOs, and several others. Web 3.0 will deliver Web 2.0’s promise of a more immersive and customized web, just with decentralization, and by doing this eliminating the possibility for large tech firms to sell our personal data and information.