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May 30, 2022

Is Web3 the Future? What Web3 Will Look Like To You

Those of us who work in the NFT, blockchain, or crypto space often hear the same question: Is Web3 the future?

Those of us who work in the NFT, blockchain, or crypto space often hear the same question: Is Web3 the future? The answer, from what we can tell at the moment, is a resounding yes–Web3 really is the future of the internet.

What makes all of this tricky, of course, is that Web3 is largely speculative at the moment. While all signs point to the fact that it’s coming, we have more questions than answers. So let’s take a quick look at where the internet stands now, and at the future of Web3.

What is Web2?

Like all innovations, it’s hard to talk about Web3 without a point of comparison. That comparison often falls with the generation that proceeds the innovation that is emerging. In the case of the internet, that previous iteration is Web2. 

Whether you know it or not, you know a lot about Web2. You have used it before. Just by reading this article, you are using it right now.

We consider the internet that existed between 1990 and 2004 Web1 (or sometimes Web 1.0). This version of the internet was, according to Ethereum, “mainly static websites owned by companies, and there was close to zero interaction between users - individuals seldom produced content - leading to it being known as the read-only web.”

By 2004, the internet evolved in ways that few of us could have predicted in 1990. Typified by the emergence of social media, the read-write web (Web2 or Web 2.0) burst onto our monitors. Ethereum tells us: “Instead of companies providing content to users, they also began to provide platforms to share user-generated content and engage in user-to-user interactions.”

In a short amount of time, the internet became very centralized. NPR explains “Platforms like Google, Amazon, Facebook, and Twitter emerged to bring order to the Internet by making it easy to connect and transact online.” These platforms, critics say, made these tech giants too powerful. Our searches, likes, and shopping habits themselves became the commodity, as platforms sold information and user data to advertisers and others. 

Web3 (Web 3.0) aims to take the power back.

What is Web3?

In the same ways that blockchain-driven cryptocurrencies look to decentralize money and commerce, Web3 wants to decentralize the internet. And innovators want to utilize blockchain technology to do it.

What will Web3 look like?

It’s a bit hard to envision Web3 at this point but we have some clues as to what it may look like for users. 

One version, explained by NPR, involves “an iteration of the internet where new social networks, search engines, and marketplaces crop up that have no company overlords [...] In a Web3 world, people control their own data and bounce around from social media to email to shopping using a single personalized account, creating a public record on the blockchain of all of that activity.”

The undergirding idea is that each of us will own our own data, as opposed to handing it over to tech giants. That data–our likes, dislikes, interests, and shopping habits–can be tokenized, and we will be able to trade those tokens for control of decisions if we choose to do so. This will be a rather radical change from having tech giants profit from our data.

In addition to blockchain technology and peer-to-peer networks, there are a few other ideas that seem wrapped up in the Web3 vision. These include

  • Virtual reality (VR) and Augmented reality (AR)
  • Artificial intelligence
  • Machine learning
  • The metaverse

The smart contract concept that facilitates NFT sales seems promising for product delivery and proof of ownership in the next generation of the internet.

While we can’t quite (yet) describe the user experience on Web3, that shouldn’t be seen as evidence that it isn’t coming. Web3 is the future, as probably as Web2 was the future in 1990. And, as we’ve shown, much of the technology that will drive this new decentralized internet already exists, and is already being used.

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