What Is Web3?
Web3 is an emerging, blockchain-built concept that aims to replace the current web as we know it with a more sovereign version. Web3 will allow people to keep ownership of the data we use online. It will all be possible by the use of Blockchain technology via smart contracts. Web3 is all about decentralization.
Let’s take a look at how this concept is evolving.
How Web3 Works
Web3 's mission is to be a decentralized version of the current web. This will come to effect through Blockchain technology. Web3 interactions will be performed with; Transaction hashes, digital and cold storage wallets, and, Web3 Identities.
Below is a summary with a quick list of characteristics of Web3:
- Native Built-in Payments
According to the educational platform Deepstash, web3 developers don't build or deploy applications that run on a single server or database managed by a single provider. Instead, these applications run on blockchains and decentralized networks of many peer-to-peer nodes that form a cryptoeconomic protocol.
If you’re a visual learner, this video representation of how Web3 will work.
Evolution of the Web - Web1, Web2 and Web3
As Web2 evolved people depended more on the connectivity that has developed. As such, our data is collected and sold by large corporations that people rely on daily. To use an app or log into a website, you will often have to agree to some data tracking or privacy agreement. These disclaimers are to inform the user of data that a specific function will collect or track.
Yet, rarely, does anybody read the statement of legal jargon. Most of us just accept it and continue to download an app or create an account. Check out the following quote. This sums up the negligence in reading privacy statements based on a study by Pro Privacy:
“To prove just how few people bother to read the small print when they purchase an item or engage a service, website ProPrivacy.com succeeded in persuading 99 percent of survey respondents to surrender ridiculous things like the naming rights of their first-born child and browsing history access to their mothers…
This was through a fun social experiment, albeit with a serious intent, designed to show companies can include just about anything and the typical consumer is very likely to accept them, simply because they do not bother to read, or skim-read, or perhaps fail to understand just what is contained within the small print…
ProPrivacy.com found that getting away with popping ridiculous things into terms and conditions was very easy. The group found that only 1 percent of technology users in a social experiment actually read the terms and conditions.” - Dr. Tim Sandle, DigitalJournal.com
It is no wonder that people are in shock after realizing how their data has been used even though we do volunteer this information. Transparency has never been clear as to how our data is collected and used. This is the main catalyst that mobilized people to oppose products that abuse the usage of people’s data.
When using Web3 the agreements we’re used to reading will be replaced with the signing of smart contracts. Though Web3 is still being built and is not yet ready for deployment, it already has use-cases, apps, and websites that anyone can start using today.
Web3 apps (or dapps - short for decentralized applications) do not control the content that the user puts on the web. The user controls who is allowed to see, copy/keep, or use any of that data for themselves. The means of control will all be organized by smart contracts.
So what do we actually gain and/or lose by moving on to Web3? Moreover, what makes it different from Web2?
Web2 gave us the ability to retrieve data as well as send data over the web, one of the first applications being email. Naturally, by technological advancements society later widely adopted social media. Many such advancements have been made from Web2. Today, people are instantly connected to the world with the touch of a hand. This connectivity allowed for much innovation and people now starting to realize the safety and privacy we sacrificed for such convenience.
“Web 2.0 refers to websites and applications that utilize user-generated content for end-users. Web 2.0 is used in many websites today, chiefly focusing on user interactivity and collaboration. Web 2.0 also focused on providing more universal network connectivity and communication channels. The difference between Web 2.0 and 3.0 is that Web 3.0 is more focused on the use of technologies like machine learning and AI to provide relevant content for each user instead of just the content other end users have provided. Web 2.0 essentially allows users to contribute and sometimes collaborate on-site content, while Web 3.0 will most likely turn these jobs over to the semantic web and AI technologies,” written Alexander S. Gilis of TechTarget.
Web1 was the first version of the web accessible to people and in a sense was a mixture of Web2 and Web3. Except Web1 had no large companies to use people’s data, being that there wasn't much data to use. Web1 did not have the ability for users to interact with each other. As such, the web started as a read-only style interface.
Use Cases of Web3
Even though web3 is still a work in progress, there are a few notable mentions to organizations that are introducing us to Web3. Building dapps will be different for development on the back end but, will look or act similar to what Web2 does now. There are web browsers growing in popularity that are already Web3 ready.
For example, the Brave browser is built on the same open-source code as Google Chrome. In fact, you can even import your bookmarks, passwords, etc., straight over from your Chrome desktop app to Brave, as well as use Chrome Store to install your favorite plugins.
Unstoppable Domains is another early platform in the adaption of Web3. If you wanted to have a website domain hosted on Web2, you would register the domain name with a DNS (Domain Name System). Also, unless you know how to code/develop you’d probably be paying a monthly fee for a hosting service. Unstoppable Domains charges a one-time fee for a handful of extensions, like .crypto, .coin, .wallet, and others.
The domain can be registered seamlessly with the InterPlanetary File System (IPFS) and you can ‘mint’ your domain with ETH, or use Polygon (MATIC) protocol to avoid paying gas fees. The system is still in its infancy so the variety of uses is somewhat limited. Nevertheless, there are many plug-ins and applications for the domains found on their site. The domain itself acts as your online wallet and allows you to use thousands of compatible coins.
Unstoppable Domains also offer a universal login. The ‘Web3 Identity’ and ‘Universal Login’ concepts are very similar. The only difference is that the domain that you chose and minted (a simple name) would be used across Web3. This feature makes Web3 more user-friendly as normally your online wallet address is just a long alphanumeric hash.
Meanwhile, IPFS or Interplanetary File System provides a platform for building on Web3. They are an open-source, decentralized data storage system organization. IPFS makes it possible to store large amounts of data while developing dapps for Web3. The process entails creating CIDs or content Identifiers or ‘hashes’. Those CIDs are used to locate data that is filed on various servers in the IPFS network, similar to Blockchain technology itself.
Check out the video below for a detailed explanation of the origin and mechanics of IPFS.
Criticisms of Web3
There are many critics of Web3. People worry about how the regulation of Web3 will work. They also worry about the consequences of nefarious activities or other hurtful content. The before-listed issues would be an issue of regulation.
The image below shows the disadvantages of Blockchain technology. Though Blockchain and Web3 aren’t exactly the same, you couldn’t have Web3 without Blockchain. A square is a rectangle, but a rectangle may not be a square scenario if you will.
On a more technical note, people argue that blockchain technology is not decentralized if there is a limited number of network participants, maintainers, or nodes. Another popular argument against Web3 is "who is building the technology?" Having the goal of Web3 be decentralization, the companies that build it would need must be decentralized themselves.
Web3 certainly will solve issues in society that are calling for solutions, quickly. As the crypto revolution gains pace, it is not unfeasible that Web3 would be its latest bi-product. There are many valid criticisms of Web3 that question its adaptability. However, as Web3 is still in the works and crypto regulatory issues remain to be resolved, anything can happen. In conclusion, Web3 is definitely something to read into, as it may someday become the new web.
Below you’ll find a shortlist of notable Web3 organizations that could be found with a quick search. Many of these organizations’ websites will reveal partnerships/collaborations with one another. This shows the determination of this movement as well as the strength of the community. Each organization has a growing ecosystem that is supporting or is being supported by a layer1 solution, coin, community, and other elements of interconnectedness.