You may have come across the term “Web 3.0” if you’ve recently read about video games or visited cryptocurrency forums, but is it just jargon? Is it a new shibboleth for those who trade cartoon ape Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs) and design their virtual homes in a metaverse? Is Web 3.0—and the less concentrated version of the internet it represents—something we, who believe we’re still in Web2, should be aware of? While both sentiments are likely correct, here’s a more in-depth answer to your Web 3.0 questions.
What Exactly Is Web 3.0?
Simply put, Web 3.0 is a new internet version that can run on public blockchains. This record-keeping technology is best known for enabling cryptocurrency transactions. The appeal of Web 3.0 is based on its decentralisation. Individuals now control the internet, rather than users accessing it through services such as Google, Apple, and Facebook.
Because Web 3.0 does not require permission, central authorities cannot decide who uses what service, and trust is not required. The idea of trust is that an intermediary does not have to facilitate virtual transactions between parties. As a result, because these intermediaries collect the majority of the data, Web 3.0 theoretically protects its users’ privacy better.
This is currently just an idealised Web 3.0 vision created by blockchain developers and supporters. As a result, the concept may perform poorly in practise. Regardless, one aspect of Web 3.0 known as decentralised finance, or DeFi, is gaining traction. DeFi enables real-world (IRL) financial transactions on the blockchain without the involvement of banks or governments.
With these kinds of developments, it’s easy to see why large corporations and venture capital firms would pour money into developing Web 3.0.
What Happened Before Web 3.0?
Web 1.0 and Web 2.0 are terms used to describe earlier internet eras. Web 1 refers to the 1990s and early 2000s, when the internet was more decentralised and emphasised open-source protocols. This was a time when static pages were more common; sites that couldn’t be interacted with and weren’t updated on a regular basis.
Web2.0 refers to the period from the early 2000s to the present. It includes times when Big Tech companies were in charge of the most popular internet hubs. Furthermore, the rise in user-generated content on large-scale platforms such as YouTube videos and Facebook posts is characteristic of the internet era. This shift from passive consumption to active participation has aided in the evolution of social media into the form we know today.
Is Web 3.0 All About Cryptocurrency?
The reliance on NFTs, digital currency, and other blockchain entities will be one aspect of Web 3.0. For example, Reddit is attempting to make Web 3.0 a reality by allowing its users to use cryptocurrency tokens to own a portion of the communities in which they participate. Posting to a subreddit would earn users “community points.” The user is then awarded points based on the number of upvotes and downvotes received. It’s essentially the Reddit Karma system, but for the blockchain. The points can also be used as voting shares, allowing users who have made significant contributions to have a greater say in community decisions.
The points are more secure because they are stored on the blockchain, and the owners cannot easily take them away. This is just one example of a corporate version of Web 3.0’s Decentralized Autonomous Organizations (or DAOs), which use tokens to represent ownership and decision-making power. A DAO is an example of a decentralised gambling platform, such as Augur.
Because of NFTs, Web 3.0 is also a cornerstone. They are essentially one-of-a-kind cryptocurrency tokens that can be used to prove ownership of virtual objects such as artwork or video clips. This is in stark contrast to Bitcoins, and Web 3.0 supporters claim that NFTs, along with the digital scarcity promoted by Web 3.0, will enable internet users to exchange everything from video game skins to medical information.
What’s The Big Deal About 3.0?
The majority of the hype and excitement for Web 3.0 appears to come from cryptocurrency communities, who stand to benefit greatly from an internet that is more reliant on their technology. However, some companies, such as Reddit, are working on Web 3.0 platforms and services. Furthermore, CoinDesk reported in October that GameStop was seeking a Head of Web 3.0 Gaming and Software Engineer to work on an unannounced NFT platform.
Web 3.0 is a hot topic because it could allow players to buy and sell in-game items or gain tokens to give them more control over how the game runs. According to The Verge, GameStop may be using terms like “Web 3.0” and “blockchain” to attract the same viral support from other investors that it received in January.
Andreessen Horowitz’s Web 3.0 lobbying campaign in Washington, D.C., in October was perhaps the most significant recent development. The company, which has made significant investments in cryptocurrency and other blockchain technologies, stated that executives were sent to Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., to promote Web 3.0 as a solution for Silicon Valley consolidation and to propose regulations to support the burgeoning virtual environment.
How Realistic Is the Hype?
In October, a 28-year-old artist posted a meme titled “Love in the Time of Web 3.0,” which depicted a cartoon couple in bed gazing at Bitcoin and Ethereum prices. Elon Musk, the billionaire, shared the meme on Twitter, where it received hundreds of thousands of likes.
The artist was able to transform the meme into NFTs, which he sold for nearly $20,000. Similarly, a group that attaches NFTs to cartoon apes is having great success with the venture. An ape of this type recently sold for $3.4 million.
So, in essence, the hype is neither reasonable nor measured, but upcoming Web 3.0 news is worth keeping a critical eye on.