The speedy progress of cryptocurrencies and digital non-fungible tokens have dominated information headlines in recent times. However not many might even see how these modish purposes join collectively in a wider thought being touted by some as the subsequent iteration of the web — Web3.
There are numerous misconceptions surrounding this buzzy (and, frankly, fuzzy) time period, together with the conflation of Web3 with Net 3.0. Right here’s what you might want to learn about these phrases.
Since Web3 remains to be a creating motion, there’s no common settlement amongst consultants about its definition. Merely put, Web3 is envisioned to be a “decentralized net ecosystem,” empowering customers to bypass web gatekeepers and retain possession of their knowledge.
This could be achieved via blockchain; moderately than counting on single servers and centralized databases, Web3 would run off of public ledgers the place knowledge is saved on pc networks which are chained collectively.
A decentralized Web3 would essentially change how the web operates — monetary establishments and tech firms would now not must be intermediaries of our on-line experiences.
As one enterprise reporter put it:
“In a Web3 world, folks management their very own knowledge and bounce round from social media to e-mail to procuring utilizing a single personalised account, making a public file on the blockchain of all of that exercise.”
Web3’s blockchain-based infrastructure would open up intriguing prospects by ushering within the period of the “token financial system.” The token financial system would enable customers to monetize their knowledge by offering them with tokens for his or her on-line interactions. These tokens may supply customers perks or advantages, together with possession stakes in content material platforms or voting rights in on-line communities.
To raised perceive Web3, it helps to step again and see how the web developed into what it’s now.
Net 1.0: The ‘read-only’ net
Laptop scientist Tim Berners-Lee is credited with inventing the world extensive net in 1989, which allowed folks to hyperlink static pages of knowledge on web sites accessible via web browsers.
Berners-Lee was exploring extra environment friendly methods for researchers at completely different establishments to share data. In 1991, he launched the world’s first web site, which offered directions on utilizing the web.
THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
These fundamental “read-only” web sites had been managed by site owners who had been answerable for updating customers and managing the data. In 1992, there have been 10 web sites. By 1994, after the online entered the general public area, there have been 3,000.
When Google arrived in 1996 there have been two million. Final yr, there have been roughly 1.2 billion web sites, though it’s estimated solely 17 per cent are nonetheless lively.
Net 2.0: The social net
The subsequent main shift for the web noticed it develop from a “read-only net” to the place we’re at present — a “read-write net.” Web sites turned extra dynamic and interactive. Folks turned mass members in producing content material via hosted companies like Wikipedia, Blogger, Flickr and Tumblr.
The thought of “Net 2.0” gained traction after know-how writer Tim O’Reilly popularized the time period in 2004.
Afterward, social media platforms like Fb, YouTube, Twitter and Instagram and the expansion of cellular apps led to unparalleled connectivity, albeit via distinct platforms. These platforms are often known as walled gardens as a result of their mum or dad firms closely regulate what customers are capable of do and there’s no data change between competing companies.
Tech firms like Amazon, Google and Apple are deeply embedded into each aspect of our lives, from how we retailer and pay for our content material to the non-public knowledge we provide (generally with out our data) to make use of their wares.
Web3 vs. Net 3.0
This brings us to the subsequent part of the web, by which many want to wrest again management from the entities which have come to hegemonize it.
The phrases Web3 and Net 3.0 are sometimes used interchangeably, however they’re completely different ideas.
Web3 is the transfer in direction of a decentralized web constructed on blockchain. Net 3.0, alternatively, traces again to Berners-Lee’s authentic imaginative and prescient for the web as a group of internet sites linking every thing collectively on the knowledge stage.
Our present web may be regarded as a big doc depot. Computer systems are able to retrieving data for us after we ask them to, however they aren’t able to understanding the deeper which means behind our requests.
Info can be siloed into separate servers. Advances in programming, pure language processing, machine studying and synthetic intelligence would enable computer systems to discern and course of data in a extra “human” means, resulting in extra environment friendly and efficient content material discovery, knowledge sharing and evaluation. This is called the “semantic net” or the “read-write-execute” net.
In Berners-Lee’s Net 3.0 world, data can be saved in databases referred to as Strong Pods, which might be owned by particular person customers. Whereas it is a extra centralized strategy than Web3’s use of blockchain, it might enable knowledge to be modified extra rapidly as a result of it wouldn’t be distributed over a number of locations.
It could enable, for instance, a person’s social media profiles to be linked in order that updating the non-public data on one would robotically replace the remainder.
The subsequent period of the web
Web3 and Net 3.0 are sometimes combined up as a result of the subsequent period of the web will doubtless characteristic parts of each actions — semantic net purposes, linked knowledge and a blockchain financial system. It’s not exhausting to see why there may be vital funding taking place on this house.
However we’re simply seeing the tip of the iceberg in the case of the logistical points and authorized implications. Governments must develop new rules for every thing from digital asset gross sales taxation to shopper protections to the complicated privateness and piracy issues of linked knowledge.
There are additionally critics who argue that Web3, particularly, is merely a contradictory rebranding of cryptocurrency that won’t democratize the web. Whereas it’s clear we’ve arrived on the doorstep of a brand new web period, it’s actually anybody’s guess as to what occurs after we stroll via that door.
Adrian Ma doesn’t work for, seek the advice of, personal shares in or obtain funding from any firm or organisation that may profit from this text, and has disclosed no related affiliations past their educational appointment.