You’ve probably heard it: people are talking about Web3. It’s an umbrella term that describes the next big iteration of the internet, one that aims to reduce dependency on large tech companies like YouTube, Netflix and Amazon.
In the nascent days of the Internet in the 1990s, we had Web1 where users are consumers of content, and their interactions are monetised by companies like Yahoo and Google. Then Web2 came in the mid-2000s and platforms like Facebook and YouTube empowered and profited from content creation.
Now, how we experience the Internet might be reinvented with Web3, and technologists are saying it’s the way for developers and startups to take back control from big corporate platforms. As Web3 shakes up notions of ownership, how will our relationship with the Internet change?
Power to the people ✊
🌐 Exploring Web3
Will Web3 define our online experience? [KrAsia]
How does Web3 redistribute power? - As Web2 users of today, major tech companies like Meta and Google dominate the online space, and they wield nearly monopolistic control over their users’ data and information.
Web3’s supporters argue that Web2 users are subject to censorship, surveillance, and a lack of ownership over personal information. That means the “free services” offered by major platforms are not truly free. Some believe we need Web3 because it could redistribute that power among users.
Are there any downsides? - Critics of Web3, such as former Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, dismiss the concept for being too idealistic, suggesting that its promise of broad ownership is too good to be true. Elsewhere, Tesla CEO Elon Musk also brushed off Web3, contending that the idea is “crazy futuristic,” and is a long way from being implemented.
Is Web3 just a fad or the future? - For now, it remains highly abstract and speculative. For many of us, the centralised services of Web2 provide the easiest way to access many types of services. And being the norm now, it might be difficult to visualize an online experience that departs from that convenience.
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Users give Kickstarter and Discord a reality check on Web3 [CNBC]
What happens when you overlook ‘people’ - The crowdfunding website Kickstarter wants to move its entire platform over to a new infrastructure—based on blockchain technology and cryptocurrency—believing that it would make it easier for people to raise funds for projects.
However, Kickstarter’s move incited immediate backlash from their customers who threatened to abandon the service, citing concerns with the environmental impact of cryptocurrencies.
In discord against Web3 - Discord, the online chat app, recently teased some features that would let users connect their crypto wallets with their accounts. The tool, shown in a tweet by CEO Jason Citron, was also met with swift backlash.
What it means to the people - Large companies and investors with deep pockets are raving about Web3. But there’s a disconnect between how tech and finance industry professionals view crypto and the perception of the technology from the general public.
With crypto, the primary use case among consumers continues to be speculative trading, and many traders are unaware that crypto isn’t a regulated product. But if Kickstarter and Discord’s attempts to move into the Web3 market show anything, it’s that this goal is still a long way off from becoming a reality.
💡 Learn more
- Deloitte report: What business leaders should know about Web3
- 2022 prediction: Web3’s influence on the future of work
Many of Web3’s tech doesn’t exist yet [Fast Company]
Where we’re at with Web3 - It’s true that many who talk about Web3 come from the cryptocurrency world. Crypto is the first and biggest use of blockchain technology, and Web3 proponents think that blockchain can do far more. But it’s also true that only pieces of Web3 exist today; the rest is aspirational. Building and scaling new Web3 technologies would require much more time, money and cooperation.
Metaverse on the blockchain - One part of the Web3-enabled experience is, of course, the metaverse. However, current web platforms and technologies can’t facilitate a crucial aspect of the metaverse—the ability of users to move freely between any virtual space or experience, just as we can use any web browser to navigate between sites on the web.
More work to be done before it gets real - New Internet protocols may be needed to guarantee a continuity of experience as users move from place to place in the metaverse. They’d allow us to move between the metaverse domains of, say, Apple, Meta, and Amazon, and the digital identity, content, and currency we carry with us would be honoured at each place.
Still, only when users, developers, tech companies and governments can hammer out agreements, would the reality of Web3 become more real.
💡 Learn more:
- WIRED podcast: Will Web3 live up to Silicon Valley’s expectations?
- 7 investors discuss Web3’s present and future