There’s a new buzzword that’s been making headlines and floating around crypto-enthusiast, technologists, and Venture Capitalist circles in a big way — Web 3.0.
Coined in 2014 by Ethereum’s co-founder David Wood, the concept is inspiring billions of dollars in investments from a myriad of companies, brands, celebrities, and institutions that believe Web 3.0 is the future of the internet.
Proponents of Web3 (as it’s often written) are hopeful that nascent technologies like blockchain, cryptocurrency, non-fungible tokens (NFTs), and artificial intelligence (AI), will re-democratize the internet and promote transparency and the ethos of decentralization. Some even think it could signal the end of Web 2.0 — the current internet age that’s dominated by giant, centralized companies like Facebook (Meta), Twitter, and Google — and usher in a new era when internet users are the owners and beneficiaries of their own content and data.
In this article, we’ll review the history of the internet and how Web 3.0 fits into it, the key features of Web 3.0 and the technologies involved, and finally, we’ll conclude with a brief look at who’s investing in the space and what they’re doing. Overall, we aim to give you a better understanding of what Web 3.0 is and what it could be so that you can make more informed decisions about the space.
A Brief History of the Internet
The internet has proven to be one of the most transformative technologies the earth has ever known. But while most of us use it and all of us are affected by it, we don’t usually think about its history and evolution.
However, having a basic understanding of the history of the internet is critical to understanding Web 3.0. After all, it’s called Web 3.0 for a reason — and that’s because two stages of the internet, or the World Wide Web, have already occurred.
Listed below is some information about the first two phases of the internet:
- Web 1.0. (1991-2004). In the early days, Web 1.0 started off as an open and decentralized internet comprised primarily of text and of static web pages connected by hyperlinks. Users passively took in information on home computers, but few people contributed content. Some call this stage of the internet the “read-only web,” when most participants were content users and developers who built websites with static HTML pages showing text and images.
- Web 2.0. (Around 2004-present). The present stage of the internet is all about an interactive and social web. Marked by the launch of Facebook (2004) and the iPhone (2007), which brought mobile internet access to the world, Web 2.0 saw increased interactivity and the rise of user-generated content. Driven by mobile smartphones and cloud computing, Web 2.0 saw the rise of several social media platforms and social networks, tech giants like YouTube, centralized search engines like Google, and an explosion in e-commerce.
But although Web 2.0 has connected and transformed world, it never became the democratic, decentralized internet that Web 1.0 aspired to be. Instead, power has been concentrated in the hands of a few centralized companies that have complete control of users’ data. As a result, there has been and continues to be a lack of privacy for users. In fact, the exploitation of user data is one of the main driving forces behind Web2.
Furthermore, in the age of the “data economy” and targeted ads, users are not the owners of their digital content, such as the photos and videos they upload online. Often, users’ data is sold to third parties for marketing purposes and on the most popular social media sites, the content on your feed results from the company sorting data by the information you gave them freely. In other words, in Web 2.0, users are the product.
Proponents of a decentralized Web 3.0 hope that technologies like blockchain, NFTs, and cryptocurrencies will change all that. Let’s look at how Web 3.0 works.
What is Web 3.0?
As mentioned, Web 3.0 was coined by Ethereum’s co-founder Gavin Wood in 2014. However, it’s worth noting that some of the ideas of Web3 (or what has been called the ‘semantic web’) predate blockchain technology and cryptocurrency.
In 1999, Tim Berners-Lee, the creator of the World Wide Web a decade before, coined the term the “semantic web” to refer to his vision of the third generation of internet-based services that would collectively comprise the “intelligent web.”
Here are some of the most important aspects of Web 3.0 as the intelligent web:
- The “Semantic Web” goes beyond focusing on keywords and numeric values. Through machine learning and AI, it can understand and make meaning of complex content like photos, video, audio, etc.
- Improved data security, privacy, and scalability
- 3D graphics, Virtual Reality (VR), and Augmented Reality (AR) technologies will play a big role
- Users’ digital identities will be more anonymous online
- It is permissionless, meaning anyone can use it without having to get permission from a provider
But Web 3.0 doesn’t stop there. For folks who believe Web 3.0 should be a “decentralized online ecosystem based on blockchain,” like Gavin Woods, there are a few other critical components of Web3. They include:
- It’s built on top of blockchain technology
- Users can buy, sell, and trade digital assets or non-fungible tokens using crypto wallets and cryptocurrencies
- Companies won’t be run by CEOs or presidents, but instead by Decentralized Autonomous Organizations (DAOs)
- Users will be the owners of their digital content
- Users can exchange money and information on the web without the need for a middleman
As you can see, Web 3.0 is a big concept comprised of many smaller ideas and technologies. Like the metaverse, it is not set in stone, but rather an evolving idea that has a future that depends on several variables and technologies working together over time.
Another big idea that is very much connected to Web 3.0 and depends on the integration of several technologies is the Metaverse.
Key Technologies for a Decentralized Web
We’ve discussed some of the key components and ideas that shape Web 3.0. Now let’s take a step back and review the technologies that are fundamental to forming a decentralized Web 3.0.
Listed below are three of the most important technologies to understand Web 3.0:
- Blockchain. Blockchain technology, a decentralized network of peer-to-peer nodes (servers), is the backbone of Web3. It redefines the data structures in the backend of the Web and introduces a governance layer on top of the current internet. Because it is a decentralized system, it enhances security and privacy by having no single point of control that could be hacked.
- Cryptocurrency. Cryptocurrencies will play a pivotal role in shaping the future of the internet, according to advocates of a decentralized Web3. Web 3.0 applications will run on blockchains that use specific digital coins or tokens, and Web 3.0 users will be able to use cryptocurrencies and their cryptocurrency wallets to buy, sell, and trade goods and services.
- Decentralized Autonomous Organizations (DAOs). These truly democratic organizations make use of smart contracts on blockchains that grant members governance or a vote in community decisions. All actions are transparent, which enhances trust in the system. In an ideal decentralized Web 3.0 world, management of different systems and platforms is done through consensus decisions made by a DAO’s members.
- Non-fungible tokens. NFTs are unique, verifiable digital assets that can be bought, sold, and traded on the blockchain. In Web 3.0, users will have ownership over their digital assets, potentially ending or reducing the exploitation of user data from major, centralized companies.
These four nascent technologies are fundamental to forming a more democratic, decentralized, and transparent Web that proponents of Web 3.0 are hoping for. For an example of a Web 3.0 ecosystem that implements all the above technologies, you can check out the secondary NFT marketplace Rarible.
What’s Happening in Web3?
By keeping an eye on how brands, companies, influencers, and celebrities are investing in Web 3.0, you can gain a better understanding of Web 3.0’s capabilities and potential future.
Listed below are some of the most recent headlines in the Web3 space:
- Spotify Prepares for Metaverse by Hiring Web 3.0 Engineer
- Twitch’s Kevin Lin Gets $24 Million for Web3 Game Company
- A16z Create a $600 Million Web3 Gaming Fund
- eBay Enters Web3 with Wayne Gretzky NFT Collection
- Miami Swim Week to Use Web3 Tech at Festival
- American Express Dives into Web3 & Metaverse with Trademarks
- Google Cloud Announces a Web3 Division
- Binance Lab Reveals a $500 Million Web3 Fund
At Rarity Sniper, we cover Web 3.0 news every day, and over the past six months, the energy and momentum behind Web 3.0 have grown at a rapid pace.
Is Web 3.0 the future internet?
The truth is Web 3.0 is currently as much of an idea as it is a reality. And although Web 3.0 ecosystems exist and every day we’re seeing more investments in the space, only time will tell what it becomes and what role it will play in our lives.
However, the sheer volume of investments makes it look like Web 3.0 and its supporting technologies — even if they don’t upend Web 2.0 completely as some people hope—are here to stay. For content creators and individual users of the internet, this could be good news.
For daily NFT and Web 3.0 news, you can visit Rarity Sniper News, and for investment information, check out our most recent article on How to Invest in Web 3.0?