“We are all now connected by the Internet, like neurons in a giant brain.” – Stephen Hawking
The internet is indisputably one of the most important innovations in the history of mankind. Life without regular access to the internet is almost unimaginable, with our lives being so closely integrated with services that depend on the internet. It has revolutionized the way we communicate, work, study, and basically how we live. Internet comes with limitless possibilities, and it continues to expand and evolve every passing second.
There are debates as to the exact origin of the internet, but the first workable prototype of the internet is considered the ARPANET, or the Advanced Research Projects Agency Network, created by the US Department of Defense back in the 1960s. In 1983, a new communication protocol (TCP/IP) was established that allowed different computers on different networks to communicate with each other, which is considered the official birth of the internet as we know it.
Almost four decades later, the internet has evolved exponentially, and discussions about Web 3.0, a completely decentralized and secure wave of futuristic internet innovation have recently come to light.
This article will give you an interesting and insightful glimpse into Web 3.0, the next step of internet evolution.
What is Web 3.0?
Before we dive into the basics of Web 3.0, it is essential to understand that it is still an ever evolving and dynamic concept. There is really no set definition that can be given to something as decentralized as Web 3.0. It is more or less a vision for the next phase of the internet, as the world of tech is moving towards a decentralized ecosystem that is mainly based on blockchain technology.
Web 3.0 is structurally more democratic and free when compared to the previous iterations of the internet. In the most ideal sense of the word, it is an almost utopian version of the internet that fixes its current imperfections and paves the way to better data security, scalability and privacy.
Perhaps it would be helpful to look at the fundamental aspects of Web 1.0 and Web 2.0 in order to better understand the significant differences that Web 3.0 is promising to deliver. The first iteration of the internet was simple static website content that predominantly targeted information delivery in a highly centralized infrastructure.
We are currently experiencing Web 2.0, with dynamic content and massive user input, and social networks are the core attraction and the most used spaces in it. It runs on a cloud utility infrastructure that is quite centralized still, and the chief focus of the platform is user interactivity and collaboration.
This brings us to Web 3.0 — an iteration of the internet that is built upon the concepts of freedom, innovation, decentralization, higher user utility, and openness in general. It is service-oriented in its nature and enables user collaboration in everything. With its semantic qualities, Web 3.0 allows people to create data stores, build their own vocabularies and write rules for handling those data. There is no need for human operators since the globally linked database in Web 3.0 can be processed easily by machines.
Another way to describe Web 3.0 is as a “techno-social system of cooperation”. It allows the users to produce innovative things together, connect and collaborate, and form cohesive social relations in Metaverse worlds that are completely decentralized. Web 3.0 has blockchain-based distributed services as opposed to application delivery and relational database-driven content that we have now.
- Open, intelligent, and decentralized internet
- AI and Machine Learning — natural language is understandable by software agents, leading to easier finding, sharing, and integration of information
- Leveraging blockchain technology
- Creation of high-quality content and services by experts
- Higher connectivity and ubiquity, with access to everyday devices connected to the web aka Internet of Things
- Providing faster and more relevant data to end users using AI
- Virtual assistant elements
- Higher privacy and security with users retaining control over their data and content
- Tokenization of digital assets (Cryptocurrency and NFTs)
- Three-dimensional design
Web 3.0 Applications
Web 3.0 is the next level of the internet, with a broad and varied infrastructure that allows for an infinite number of possibilities. With the Internet of Things (IoT) or numerous amounts of digitally connected everyday physical devices also being a part of Web 3.0, the “real world” will also be deeply connected to this innovative next phase of the internet. Altogether, the rise of Web 3.0 will lead to ultimately creating an immersive network of virtual worlds focused on social connection, businesses and markets, work, learning spaces, and more.
As of this moment, Web 3.0 is a work in progress, with several active applications that are paving the path towards what will end up being Web 3.0. Here are some of the strangest, most innovative, and most successful applications that will help you get a taste of the next level of the internet.
Web 3.0 empowers metaspaces or platforms where users can own and create many different types of immersive virtual spaces. Whether it is about socializing, learning, working, collaborating, or playing games, their possibilities with metaspaces are beyond imagination.
Decentralized finance solutions
Using the infrastructure and other capabilities of Web 3.0, there is endless potential to create decentralized finance solutions. It drastically improves the efficiency of financial transactions and makes the process more transparent.
Decentralized Applications (dApps)
dApps or decentralized applications in Web 3.0 use blockchains or Peer to Peer (P2P) networks of computers to exist and run. Since they run over blockchains, it is easy for them to provide assets to the users. The front end of a dApp is not different from a regular centralized app, but they are more secure and easily scalable. They are also “unkillable” which means that once it is set up on a blockchain, there is virtually no downtime for dApps.
Advanced gaming might be the most used application of Web 3.0 at the moment. There can be play-to-earn or play-to-own games operating with the help of blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies. They allow players to create, contribute, and also to generate income from their favorite games.
Virtual real estate
With the advent of cryptocurrencies and the metaverse, the real estate industry has changed in many ways. Web 3.0 introduces a more robust ecosystem of virtual real estate, helping the users to own, verify their ownership, rent or sell their virtual real state within the metaverse as they see fit.
Within a fully-fledged Web 3.0 space, NFTs or Non-fungible tokens are used to create decentralized marketplaces. They help represent the ownership of a large variety of digital assets. This helps the creators to be fairly compensated for their work, secure intellectual property, and to prevent piracy or theft.
Better Governance with DAOs
A core aspect of decentralization is reducing bureaucracy in digital spaces. A DAO or a Decentralized Autonomous Organization is a staple of Web 3.0, helping provide a more streamlined and democratized management structure for the platform.
A DAO has a “governance token” or a cryptocurrency that has been created to provide voting power and other functioning powers within an organization. The founders then distribute these tokens to users and other stakeholders within an organization. Each governance token has specific voting power. Anyone can start participating in organizational decisions by buying into it.
In a traditional company that is governed by a CEO and a board of directors, the employees, users, or customers do not have a say in the decision-making process of the company. A DAO, on the other hand, gives every stakeholder in a company to be a voice. Moreover, every vote in a DAO blockchain is public, which makes every member accountable for their votes as opposed to a traditional governance system.
Not everyone in the tech world is welcoming the possibility of Web 3.0 with open arms. In fact, there are some tech giants who have openly expressed skepticism about Web 3.0, and even discouraged regular netizens from pursuing it.
Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk voiced his thoughts saying that at the moment Web 3.0 does not seem more than a marketing buzzword. This is an idea that has been prevalent since the inception of this concept, calling Web 3.0 a myth, or simply a marketing campaign created by crypto enthusiasts to reframe the negative opinions many people have of crypto assets.
Soon after Musk’s comment, the former Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey expressed an even stronger opinion saying that Web 3.0 is apparently under the control of tech VCs and that they will not support the ideal decentralized nature that many people are looking forward to experiencing with this new iteration of the World Wide Web. His belief seemed to be that massive venture capitalist funds are behind the push to make Web 3.0 more mainstream so they can shift power from massive internet companies such as Meta, Apple, and Amazon to large VCs such as Andreessen Horowitz.
The skeptics believe that when the internet’s infrastructure becomes more blockchain-focused, it would make it more centralized since there will be an increase in data collection, even more than the current internet, which is the exact opposite of the decentralizing narrative believed by Web 3.0 supporters and enthusiasts.
At the end of the day, a large number of tech enthusiasts and optimistic tech entrepreneurs are actively working on designing and building the tech aspects and the protocols that would ultimately create and sustain Web 3.0. There are many opinions about Web 3.0 and what it will really turn out to be once it is fully implemented and in action in the future. Just like everything else, Web 3.0 will be what we make of it. With proper implementation and practices, Web 3.0 has the potential to expand our access to information and human expression more than ever, while leveraging emerging technologies in the future.