Rumors of a new iteration of the web are emerging, which has everyone asking: What the hell is Web3?
The internet has seen a surge of transformation over the last fifty years. From the text and read-only web of the 80s and 90s, Web 1, to its current status driven by user-generated content shared with social media, Web 2, the internet has evolved dramatically. With news buzzing about Web3 on the rise, everyone is anticipating the third generation of the internet to be transformative, but how it will impact the user experience on a day-to-day basis?
In this article, we’ll answer the question “What the hell is Web3?” and offer insight into what that means for the internet’s future.
What is Web 3?
Web3 is the highly anticipated, third iteration of the internet that promises to democratize the way we compute, interact, and receive information online. Though it is still a work in progress, there are three core areas of Web 3 that will make it unique in comparison to the current first and second iterations before it:
A decentralized internet means that the internet would offer data, access, and verification on its own instead of through private or government operators. In theory, this means that Web3 would truly be for everyone and contain a shared memory that would be offered freely to all online users. Not only would this eliminate control from singular large corporations, but also reduce the number of outages and disrupted services.
Mathematician and tech entrepreneur Charles Hoskin defined blockchain technology as ‘a persistent, distributed, tamper-resistant, cryptographically secure database’ used to store information indefinitely. Once data enters the blockchain, it’s there permanently and cannot be censored, removed, or edited. The blockchain is a perfect place to store and transfer critical information through encryption, smart contracts, and distributed computing, like contracts, agreements, and personal information.
Open, Trustless, and Permissionless
One of the most exciting things about Web 3 is that it would be an open, trustless, and permissionless network that will make the internet more accessible for all users. The idea assumes that it will be governed by people and creators, as opposed to corporations and institutions.
Open, or open-source, means that anyone can access the code base and can build on top of it. Open-source initiatives are beneficial because they allow people to freely use software without restrictive licensing fees and copyright infringements that can result in lawsuits. By allowing anyone access to the Web 3 code, users and programmers all over the world could collaborate on it. In theory, it would be an open platform that anyone could contribute.
Web 3 promises to offer a trustless network that would allow users to interact publicly or privately without a trusted third party. With the blockchain operating as a secure and permanent database, a trustless connection would allow individuals to exchange information, money, and contracts without much need to connect with the person they’re interacting with.
A permissionless network is similar to a trustless one, in that, both users and suppliers would be able to participate in business and trade without approval from a governing body.
What’s the difference between Web3 and the Metaverse?
Though they are often confused, it’s important to clarify that Web 3 and the Metaverse are not the same.
Web 3 is a decentralized iteration of the internet built on blockchain technology. The blockchain’s properties are so powerful that hosting the internet on it would inherently democratize our online experiences.
On the other hand, the Metaverse is a virtual world that plans to be fully immersive with virtual reality, augmented reality, and 3D avatars. The term “metaverse” was originally coined by Neal Stephenson in his 1992 novel “Snow Crash.” In the book, people escape their lives in a dystopian society by taking the form of digital avatars online. The spooky origin has become more real since some of the biggest companies in the world are spending billions to build their metaverses.
Not only would this be a place where people meet and play games, but also sign contracts, collaborate on projects, and conduct business. Both the metaverse and Web 3 would transform the way we interact with each other and our technology, but it's important not to get the two confused.
Why does it all matter?
The way that Web 3 is expected to transform our digital experiences online is undeniable. More democratized internet that’s accessible to all people, not just those who can afford services and software.
Don’t just take it from us! There’s plenty of information about how transformative blockchain, Web 3, and the Metaverse will be on our digital experiences in the future. If you’re interested in learning more about these technologies, here are additional resources on the subject:
- Web3, Blockchain, cryptocurrency: a threat or an opportunity? | Shermin Voshmgir | TEDxCERN
- What Is Web3 All About? An Easy Explanation With Examples
- Blockchain: Massively Simplified | Richie Etwaru | TEDxMorristown