What We Know About Web3 So Far (It Ain’t Much)
If you’ve taken a trip to Disneyland, you may have been to the Carousel of Progress in Tomorrowland. This ride, originally debuting in 1964, showed vignettes of what it was like in various time periods, ultimately ending in the future. In the ride’s 21st century, we would have programmable ovens, automated plumbing, voice-activated household items, and virtual reality games. While some of these elements ended up being prophetic, Disney’s vision of the 21st century is ultimately a bit silly in a modern lens.
When talking about the next phase of the internet, it’s tough to know exactly what the future holds. Oftentimes, predicting the future is an impossible task that generally relates to, you guessed it, trying to make a lot of money quickly. But there’s been a lot of talk about Web3 as the “next phase of the internet.” So what is Web3? How does it relate to cryptocurrency, NFTs, and the Metaverse? What are Web1 and Web2?
We’ll be briefly covering Web3 and how it may or may not relate to you.
What Makes Web3 “3”?
In our previous article about the Metaverse, we talked about Web 1.0 and 2.0. Briefly, Web 1.0 was the early stages of the internet back in the 1990s when your best internet connection was dial-up. Web1 was mostly just people searching for music, TV, and movies that they were already consuming in their day-to-day lives. There was very little popular content created exclusively for the web.
Web 2.0 can be thought of as our current iteration of the internet. It was brought up by the rise of social media sites like Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, and Twitter. Web 2.0 is generally accepted to be defined by more user-generated content.
However, many critics of Web 2.0 say that the web has become overwhelmingly controlled by a few large corporations. To some extent, this idea has merit. Google, for example, controls a lot of the information that’s shared on the web. Twitter is one of the few ways that celebrities and public figures can speak directly to the average person — and the average person speaks back!
Web3 is speculated to transform the environment of the world wide web by decentralizing it. Advocates of Web3 want to see an iteration of the internet that doesn’t have a few corporations controlling the primary channels of communication that people use. The benefit of this is that individuals will no longer be susceptible to private censorship or content not adhering to the parent company’s goals.
How Can Organizations Be Decentralized?
The method for creating a decentralized organization is how Web3 relates to blockchain and cryptocurrency. A crypto coin is a virtual piece of currency that isn’t officially backed by a government. It has no physical equivalent and only exists in a digital wallet that is tied to a database.
This database is called a blockchain.
A blockchain database is a complicated information-storing method that involves storing data in encrypted “blocks” that are difficult to crack open and falsify/steal data. These blocks don’t exist within one central database but are rather spread across an entire network. Essentially, all of your data eggs aren’t in one basket. The data within a blockchain is characterized by being very secure and distributed. Because it’s so secure, it can reliably be used to track who owns cryptocurrency and any transactions a person may make with their crypto coins.
The idea is that more than just currency can exist on the blockchain. Entire organizations owned by hundreds of individuals could potentially be founded on the blockchain. Because blockchains are secure, they can be considered an immutable ledger to authentically track any activity that occurs.
A decentralized organization would have more community-driven decisions with fewer privacy concerns and more safety. Sounds great, right?
Is Web3 Here?
No, not quite. The Metaverse was Meta’s (previously Facebook) dream of what Web3 would look like, but people didn’t widely adopt the platform as much as CEO Mark Zuckerberg thought. Just like Disney’s Carousel of Progress, the Metaverse solved the many gripes that people had at the time. Remember that the Metaverse emerged as an idea during the height of COVID and quarantining. The idea of a digital landscape to socialize and meet was, at the time, highly attractive.
But now, public perception of cryptocurrency isn’t particularly high. There is a long history of many cryptocurrency startups like FTX being little more than rug-pull scams. NFTs, in particular, were an internet fad that related to digital tokens that were verifiably unique from one another. While these tokens can, theoretically, make digital properties a possibility, they were more often than not tied to digital pictures of silly animals.
A lot of money has been circulated surrounding cryptocurrency and decentralized organizations, so there is some amount of validity in creating a space without corporate control. At its height, the NFT market ballooned to $41 billion globally.
However, as it stands, the public trust has been stretched thin with cryptocurrency projects. Many Web3 ideas are coated in jargon and inscrutable terms to the point where it’s difficult to tell whether or not the project is legitimate. Some organizations even agree that popular sites like Twitter need, in fact, more regulation.
Although “Web3” may be branded as the genuine next phase of the internet, it is, like the Carousel of Progress, just a vision for what the future may hold.