Tuesday, October 4, 2022

Web3 Explained

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There is a jargon that tech, crypto, and venture capitalists have recently been obsessed with. It’s now sprinkled throughout conversations, because you’re not concerned about the future unless you include it in your social bio: Web3.

Then, beginning in the mid-2000s, came Web 2.0. Google, Amazon, Facebook, and Twitter all arose to restore stability to the Internet by simplifying the process of connecting and transacting online. According to critics, the firms accumulated an excessive amount of authority over time.

Web3 is all about reclaiming some of the power.

It’s a catch-all word for a variety of unrelated initiatives aimed at removing the large intermediaries on the internet. Surfing the web in this new age does not need signing into Facebook, Google, or Twitter.

Consider the following: Web 1.0 was the Internet’s infancy in the 1990s. Although the web was viewed as a means of democratising access to knowledge, there were few effective methods to navigate it beyond visiting a friend’s GeoCities website. It was a rather unorganised and stressful situation.

“There is a small group of companies that own all of this, and then there are those of us who use it, and despite the fact that we contribute to the success of these platforms, we have nothing to show for it,” explained Mat Dryhurst, a Berlin-based artist and researcher who teaches classes on the future of the internet at New York University.

Thus, as per Dryhurst and other Web3 supporters, the answer is an evolution of the internet in which modern social networks, search engines, and markets emerge independent of corporate bosses.

Rather than that, they are decentralised, relying on the blockchain technology that currently underpins Cryptocurrencies. Consider it as a form of accounting in which several computers simultaneously house data that is searchable by everyone. It is run cooperatively by users, rather than by a business. Individuals get “tokens” for their participation. Tokens may be used to cast votes and even accumulate actual value.

In a Web3 world, individuals manage their own data and use a single customised account to navigate between social media, email, and commerce, producing a public record of their behaviour on the blockchain.

“It can seem like voodoo to the normal person,” said Olga Mack, an entrepreneur and blockchain instructor at the University of California, Berkeley. “However, do we understand how power is generated when you click a button to turn on the lights? You do not need to understand how energy works to appreciate the advantages. The same is true for blockchain technology.”

At the moment, the concept of redesigning the Internet as a whole may seem like some distant digital paradise. However, Web3 is creating new dialogues – and significant new revenue, notably from crypto investors.

‘Initially perplexing,’ but Web3 is gaining traction and IT corporations are paying notice.
The growth of non-fungible tokens, or NFTs that are digital assets and other online documents that can be purchased and sold using cryptocurrency, has aided the Web3 movement. Then there are public relations stunts. Recently, a band of cryptocurrency aficionados got together to try to use digital money to acquire a replica of the United States Constitution. They formed the ConstitutionDAO. (A DAO is an acronym for decentralised autonomous organisation; it refers to an online community of cryptocurrency enthusiasts that band together in a group regulated by blockchain systems and tokens. It’s decidedly Web3.)

Dryhurst concedes that explaining Web3 may be frustrating, since it is a loosely defined phrase that takes on such a slightly different form depending on who defines it, but he notes that this is true of all new technological frontiers.

“Each new phase of the web’s development is first perplexing,” he said.

For years, Web3 was a hypothetical grand vision for engineers and cryptographers. However, in recent months, the movement for a blockchain-based future has dominated certain tech events and social media buzz. It has even compelled large IT corporations to form Web3-specific teams.

And this has added an irony to the evolution of Web3: enthusiasts hope that Web3 will mean that sharing photos, communicating with friends, and purchasing things online will no longer be synonymous with Big Tech companies, but with a slew of small competing services on the blockchain — where, for example, each time you write a message, you earn a token for your contribution, providing you with both ownership of the platform and a way to cash in one day.

In principle, this also entails evading taxes, regulations, and the stipulations imposed by technology corporations. Nonetheless, large technology platforms are embracing the concept as well.