I was in the car with my teenage son this week when he randomly asked me “what is web3.0?” I was eager to answer his question because I enjoy discussing the topic in general and I believe it will be my son’s generation that will be the most avid users of this version of the internet.
To explain web3 I had to explain web1 and web2. Web1 was the first version of the internet that mostly consisted of static web pages (like a PDF document) where individuals could get online to consume and read information. Web2 is the current version of the internet where individuals can not only consume information, but they can also interact with the web by adding their own content.
Most of the content added to the web is managed and controlled by centralized organizations. A few of the largest and well-recognized centralized organizations are Meta, Google, Instagram, and Amazon. It is no secret that these organizations and other organizations like them allow us to use their services for free in exchange for our personal data. This data may include where you live, where you eat, what you like to do on the weekends, where you shop, and so much more. Centralized organizations are good in that they provide the technology and operational infrastructure to make using the internet easier and more efficient. The drawback with centralized organizations is the exploitation of data which most often includes extracting user provided information to sell targeted ads. In the current version of the internet the user is the product and organizations like Meta want to know as much information about you as possible to generate more profits. When you think about it this way it sounds kind of crazy that most people are okay with this.
Web3 is different. Web3 is a version of the internet that takes control away from centralized organizations and gives control back to users. I like how John Stark who works at Ethereum describes web3:
“Web 3 is a group of technologies that restructure control over the internet. These range from financial projects (cryptocurrencies) to basic communications technology (end to end encrypted messaging), to mass consumer use-cases (open social networks and p2p markets), to critical internet infrastructure (decentralized DNS).”
The blockchain was one of the first manifestations of web3 technology that provides the infrastructure layer for cryptocurrencies (like Bitcoin) and other decentralized applications. Applications that run on the blockchain are decentralized because there is no single organization that controls or regulates the system. Instead, the system and its rules are organized and controlled collectively by the users within that system. As such, each user has clear visibility into what is happening within the system and each user has control over what information they contribute to the system. For users of the internet to have full control and transparency into how their information is used online is an enormous paradigm shift that I believe will be greatly beneficial in the long run. Individuals should have the ability to choose how their own personal data is proliferated on the web and they (not large, centralized organizations) should benefit from that.
To be fair, web2 is not all bad and it currently serves a purpose. Web3 is not a replacement of the internet as we know it; it is simply an evolved (and potentially better) version of it. Right now, a couple of the challenges to web3 is that the technology stack necessary for the system to operate smoothly is still in development and many of the platforms available are hard to use for the average person. These are temporary problems that companies like OpenSea, FTX, Alchemy, and Polygon and many others are solving.
If you’re interested in learning more about Web3, tokens, crypto, DeFi, and more, there are a ton of valuable resources online. One of the best online repositories of information I’ve found is Immersion Den. There’s still so much to learn about web3 and I’m excited to keep digging into it. Feel free to reach out if you have questions or have valuable insights to share.