What is Web 3 and why should you care?

Ethereum is a technology at the heart of the Web3 revolution.

In recent months, you may have come across an expression that is gaining popularity: Web3. You may be wondering what it is, what it will mean for the future, and how exactly the third-generation internet differs from the first two. Let’s go on: for Web3 evangelists, it’s a revolution; to skeptics, it’s an overhyped house of cards that won’t stand up to much scrutiny.

Part of the reason there’s such a heated debate about Web3 – and cryptocurrencies, and NFTs, or non-perishable tokens – is that it’s very early days. Much of Web3’s promise has yet to be properly implemented or even mapped out, so we’re really dealing with what’s potentially possible rather than what’s actually there.

As you may remember if you are of a certain age, Web 1.0 was the era of static web pages. Sites showed news and information, and maybe you had your own little corner of the World Wide Web to show off your personal interests and hobbies. Images were discouraged – they took up too much bandwidth – and video was excluded.

With the dawn of the 21st century, Web 1.0 gave way to Web 2.0: a more dynamic, editable, user-driven Internet. Static was gone and web pages became more interactive and app-like (see Gmail, for example). Many of us signed up for social media accounts and blogs that we used to put our own content on the web in bulk. Images and video no longer reduced sites to a crawl, and we started sharing them in large numbers.

And now the dawn of Web3 has arrived. People define it in a few different ways, but at the heart of it is the idea of ​​decentralization, which we’ve seen with cryptocurrencies (the main drivers of Web3). Instead of Google, Apple, Microsoft, Amazon and Facebook (sorry, Meta) hoarding everything, the internet will supposedly become more democratized.

Web3 has major backers, including investor Chris Dixon.

The key to this decentralization is blockchain technology, which creates publicly visible and verifiable ledgers that are accessible to anyone, anywhere. The blockchain already supports Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, as well as a number of new technologies, and it is closely intertwined with the future vision of everything Web3 promises. The idea is that everything you do, from shopping to social media, is handled through the sensible secure processes, with both more privacy and more transparency ingrained.

In some ways, Web3 is a mix of the two eras that preceded it: the advanced, dynamic, app-like technology of the modern web, combined with the decentralized, user-driven philosophy that existed at the dawn of the Internet, before billions and trillion dollar companies owned everything. Web3 shifts the power dynamics from the giant tech entities back to the users — or so the theory is.

In its current form, Web3 rewards users with tokens, which will eventually be used in a variety of ways, including currency or as votes to influence the future of technology. In this brave new world, the value generated by the web will be shared between many more users and more businesses and more services, with much improved interoperability.

NFTs are closely linked to the Web3 view. You’ve no doubt come across NFTs, a way of assigning permanent ownership (that’s the non-perishable part) to a digital asset. Digital artworks, from music to sketches, are currently experiencing an NFT boom, as you may have noticed. For our purposes here, the link between cryptocurrencies, NFTs and Web3 is the foundation: the blockchain.

Add in some artificial intelligence and some machine learning to do everything from filtering out unnecessary data to detecting security risks, and you have just about every emerging digital technology covered by Web3. Right now, Ethereum is the blockchain that attracts the most Web3 interest (it supports both a cryptocurrency and an NFT system, and you can do everything with it from making a payment to building an app on it.

Digital art NFTs have become a frothy market in Web3.Screenshot: OpenSea

While Web3’s concepts and mechanisms may seem somewhat baffling to newcomers and outsiders, it’s not necessarily unexpected — going online in the 1990s wasn’t a particularly intuitive or understandable process for many people. What is clear is that interest in and hype around Web3 is growing rapidly, and as with any gold rush, people don’t want to be left behind or left out – even if they’re not quite sure what it is they’re doing. rush in.

You don’t have to look far to realize that not everybody is sold about the potential of Web3. While there’s broad agreement that technologies like NFTs and the blockchain are useful in certain scenarios — and will likely play a part in whatever the web’s future looks like — there’s a lot of vaporware and unwarranted hype to sift through right now. And that’s without going into the associated climate impact of all the energy-intensive processing that some cryptocurrencies enable.

Those who are skeptical of Web3 and its associated technologies might say that there is still a very real risk that much of the wealth and value generated will be left out of reach for the vast majority when it comes to cryptocurrencies, NFTs and the rest of Web. 3.0 – so the rich get richer again. What’s more, many of Web 2.0’s alleged villains are already making strides in Web3, it’s worth noting.

On the other hand, there are also a lot remarkable experts enthusiastic on the power and potential of Web3. It is not easy to predict how this will play out in the coming years. There is no doubt that there are problems with the way some Web3 technologies are implemented today, but at the same time, there is also a lot of hope that some of the problems of Web 2.0 can be solved in the next generation. That makes it worth paying attention to technology, even if it creates its own problems in the process.

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