Lately, words related to technology, the cryptocurrency and venture capital have been thrown around a lot. These words are the talk of the town. If you don’t add these words to your Twitter profile, you’re not thinking seriously about the future.
It is an umbrella term for a series of ideas aimed at cutting out the big internet intermediaries. In the new era, surfing the web no longer means logging on to the servers of Facebook, Google or Twitter.
Think of it this way: at the dawn of the Internet in the 1990s, it was “Web 1.0”. The web was seen as a way to democratise access to information, but there was no good way to navigate the web beyond going to your friend’s GeoCities page. It was quite confusing and overwhelming.
Then came Web 2.0 in the mid-2000s, with platforms such as Google, Amazon, Facebook and Twitter bringing order to the Internet and making it easier to connect and transact online. Critics argue that these companies have become too powerful over time.
Web3 is trying to regain some of that power.
Matt Dreiherst, a Berlin-based artist and researcher who teaches on the future of the Internet at New York University, says: “Some companies own all this stuff, and we’re the ones who use it.
Dreiherst and other Web3 enthusiasts believe the answer is an iteration of the Internet in which new social networks, search engines and marketplaces emerge without corporate involvement.
Instead, they are decentralised, based on a system called blockchain, which is already the basis of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. Think of it as an accounting system in which several computers store data at the same time and can all search it. The system is managed collectively by users, not by companies. Those who participate receive a “token”. Tokens can be used to vote on decisions or to create real value.
In the Web3 world, people use a single, personalised account to control their data and create a public record of all their activities on the blockchain, from social media to emails to purchases.
“To the average person, it sounds like voodoo, says Olga Mack, an entrepreneur and blockchain professor at the University of California, Berkeley. But do you understand how electricity is generated when you press a button to turn it on? You don’t need to know how electricity works to understand how good it is. The same can be said of blockchain.
Right now, the idea of reshaping the entire Internet may seem like a distant digital utopia. However, Web3 is creating a new buzz and generating a lot of new money, especially from cryptocurrency investors.
It may seem strange at first, but Web3 is becoming increasingly popular, and technology companies are taking note.
The Web3 movement is underpinned by NFTs (windowless tokens), digital collectibles and other online items that can be bought and sold in cryptocurrency. Then there is the publicity stunt. Recently, cryptocurrency enthusiasts banded together to buy copies of the US Constitution in digital currency. They organised under the name ConstitutionDAO (DAO stands for Decentralised Autonomous Organisation, the name of an online collective of cryptocurrency enthusiasts united by blockchain and tokens). (It is very similar to Web3).
Dryhurst admits that Web3 is difficult to explain because it is ill-defined and takes slightly different forms depending on who is defining it, but he considers it the most advanced of all new technologies.
“Any new emergence of the internet is confusing at first,” he says.
For technologists and cryptographers, Web3 has been a grand theoretical vision for years. But in recent months, aspirations for a blockchain-based future have begun to dominate conversations on social media at tech conferences and in certain circles. Some large tech companies have even created dedicated Web3 teams.
For example, every time you send a message, you receive a token as a contribution, which gives you ownership of the platform and the opportunity to earn future revenue.
In theory, this also means that you can avoid the strict fees, regulations and requirements of tech companies. However, the big tech platforms are also on board with this idea.
It means that the value created can be shared by more than just owners, investors and employees,” says Esther Crawford, project manager at Twitter.
Crawford says Twitter is looking at ways to incorporate Web3 concepts into social networks, such as allowing users to log in one day and tweet from a cryptocurrency-related account instead of a Twitter account. His vision of the future is different: it is not that Twitter will be replaced by a crypto one. Rather, the point is that Twitter is introducing Web3 features on top of standard Twitter.
“For a long time, Web3 was very theoretical. But now there is a wave on top of it.
Will Web3 become the new normal?
According to experts, for Web3 enthusiasts, this technology is at best a link to Web 2.0, not a complete replacement.
In other words, blockchain-based social networks, transactions and businesses may grow and thrive in the coming years. But Facebook, Twitter and Google will never disappear entirely, say technology experts.
“It’s hard to say who will win,” says Dryhurst. “But Web 2 companies will take ideas from Web 3 and incorporate them into their services to remain relevant.”
He believes that many people want to be able to move their data and the history of their online interactions anywhere on the Internet, rather than staying on a single web platform.
“It’s fundamentally different from anything we’ve done before,” says Dreichurst.
But he admits that unlimited freedom can have worrying consequences for some people.
“The Faustian bargain is that it’s exciting for the same reason that there’s nothing to stop people from creating all kinds of communities, and there’s nothing to stop someone from creating a lot of them.
While decentralised social networks have proved attractive to white supremacists and other far-right groups, Sam Williams, founder of Arweave. A blockchain-based internet data storage project, claims that most small communities will decide what kind of speech to allow online, he said.
Overall, he said, a collective vote on interaction standards would be better than the current user experience on the major social media platforms.
If the current model continues, our experience of cyberspace will increasingly become a domain controlled by a small group of companies run by a small group of people. And in such a world, major technological problems will only get worse.
Another problem, of course, is government oversight. For now, blockchain-based tokens are caught in a web of regulations, but that could soon change as the Biden administration begins to set new rules for the industry.
How does Web3 fit into another vision of the future of the Internet: metaspace?
Facebook has recently changed its name to Meta and has made the creation of a “metaworld” one of its top priorities. A metaworld is a digital future in which everyone lives, communicates and works together in a virtual reality.
This means that users can seamlessly transfer their accounts and avatars from one site to another and from one service to another, instead of logging into an account managed by another company each time they visit a new site.
This is one of the ideals of Web3.
But true believers say there is no place for Facebook in the Web3 world, no matter how much the social network tries to be part of the next generation of the Internet.
“Facebook is always driven by the desire to enrich it,” says Williams. That’s not the way to run cyberspace,” he says.
How likely is it that Web3 is an exaggerated fantasy?
It doesn’t take long to find someone who is sceptical about Web3.
James Grimmelmann, Professor of Law and Technology at Cornell University, has already put the issue on record.
Web3 is vaporware,” says Grimmelmann, referring to a product that was announced but never materialised.
“It’s the promised future of the Internet, and it touches on all the things that people don’t like about the Internet today, even if they contradict each other”.
If one of the triggers is opposition to handing over personal information to big tech companies, blockchain is not the solution, he says, because it would expose more data.
“It doesn’t make any sense,” he said. The problem with the internet is that there are too many centralised intermediaries, Vision said. Instead of having a bunch of different apps and websites, we put everything on the blockchain and put it all in one place.”
For Grimmelmann, Web3 represents the ideal spirit in which technologists are trying to embody the birth of the Internet, where everyone is free to enjoy the information superhighway, a perspective that technology companies have long embraced.
The development of the internet has always been a struggle between decentralisation and centralisation, he says. If you stray too far in one direction, the backlash will try to pull you in the opposite direction.
“Blockchain is interesting and solves complex problems in a new way,” he said. He said. They may be the next Internet toolkit, but that doesn’t mean the Internet is going to be built around them.
But many of the people who made their fortunes investing in cryptocurrencies during the pandemic are looking for something to throw money at at the NFT’s bored monkey yacht club.
Now, he says, Web3 is a place to start, even if it is largely theoretical.
“There are a lot of people who have money to invest. And we have to have a vision of where that money should be invested,” he says.
Examples of Web 3.0
If you use Wolfram Alpha and Google tools to make a small comparison by typing the phrase “Brazil vs Argentina” in both search engines, you will see a big difference in the results.
In the case of Google, it turns out that most of these results are related to football matches between Brazil and Argentina. Note that the words “football” and “matches” are not included in the search.
Wolfram Alpha treats the search as a comparison of two countries and analyses the comparison by drawing out statistics, history, geography (maps), population, language and other useful aspects.
Apple’s Siri, on the other hand, uses voice recognition technology and artificial intelligence to deliver results and actions like
“¿Dónde está la pizzería más cercana?” o “¿Dónde está la pizzería más cercana?
“Distancia a la gasolinera más cercana”, o “Reservar una cita para mañana a las 9 de la mañana”.
In particular, traditional tools (Web 1.0 and 2.0) do not allow searching for all “likes” related to content published online. Text related to content posted online. This meant that they often brought distorted information from a large amount of information, and ultimately did not lead to the most relevant information for the user at the time.
Web 3.0 systems, however, seek contextual knowledge that is useful for people’s work, directing them to a variety of analytical outputs and potentially useful information.
One characteristic of Web 3.0 search engines is that users have to spend a lot of time navigating through a sea of information to find the information they really want to access.
Companies such as Apple and IBM have invested heavily in Web 3.0 technologies, and Google, for example, has acquired Semantic Web companies such as Applied Semantics and Metaweb Technologies several times in the last decade.
Web 3.0, cryptocurrency and blockchain
Web 3.0 is driven by decentralised protocols, which are the cornerstone of blockchain and cryptocurrency technologies, so we can expect strong convergence and symbiosis between these three technologies and other areas. They are interoperable, easily integrated, automated through smart contracts and can be used for everything from microtransactions in Africa. From censorship-resistant P2P file storage and sharing through applications such as Filecoin, to completely changing the behaviour and operations of any business to completely changing the behaviour and operations of any business.
Web 3.0 Technologies
When considering Web 3.0 technologies, there are a few things to keep in mind. First, the concept is not new: in 2006, Jeffrey Zeldman, an early developer of Web 1.0 and 2.0 applications, wrote a blog post in support of Web 3.0. However, it was in 2001 that the topic was first discussed.
The evolution of Web 3.0 technology
Web 3.0 emerges when the natural evolution of older generations of web tools is combined with advanced technologies such as artificial intelligence and blockchain to increase the interconnectedness of users and the use of the internet. Internet 3.0 can be seen as an improvement on the previous Web 1.0 and 2.0.
Web 1.0 (1989-2005)
Web 1.0, also known as the static Web, was the first and most robust Internet of the 1990s, but it had limited access to information and little user interaction. At that time, personalised web pages and commenting on articles did not yet exist.
Web 1.0 made it difficult for users to find the information they wanted because there were no algorithms for ranking web pages. In other words, the path was narrow and one-way, with content created by a few people and information coming mainly from directories.
Web 2.0 (2005-present)
This has paved the way for the explosion of social media and user-generated content, as data can now be shared and distributed across a range of platforms and applications.
This Internet-era toolkit was pioneered by a number of Internet innovators, including the aforementioned Jeffrey Zellman.
Web 3.0 (still to come)
Web 3.0 is the next stage of the Internet, where the capability of artificial intelligence systems (the ability to process information in a way similar to human intelligence) is expected to make the Internet smarter and able to run intelligent programmes to help users.
Tim Berners-Lee has said that the semantic web must be “automatic” in its interactions with systems, people and home appliances. Both humans and machines will be involved in the content creation and decision-making process. This will allow highly personalised content to be created and delivered directly to each and every Internet user.
Main features of Web 3.0
To truly understand the next stage in the evolution of the Internet, four key characteristics of Web 3.0 need to be taken into account
- The Semantic Web.
- Artificial Intelligence
- 3D graphics
Since its inception, the Internet has undergone significant changes in function and purpose. The first websites were purely informative and did not allow users to interact with them. With the development of social networks and the emergence of sites such as Amazon and Wikipedia, the history of the Internet has entered a new phase, the Web 2.0 era.
Today, with the development of new technologies, a new concept called “Web 3.0” has emerged. This new version of the Internet is closely linked to the concept of the “Semantic Web”. In general, the Semantic Web aims to offer a more personalised interface by introducing a number of languages and practices that can describe the characteristics of the user.
While there is still no consensus on the definition of this new concept and its implications for Internet use, there are a number of characteristics that will help to shape it.
What will this new and evolving form of the Internet bring?
- Smart Search.
Web 3.0 aims to build a new ranking system for websites, closely linked to the needs and characteristics of users. By logging on, users will have access to a more personalised platform.
- The evolution of social media.
Social communities on the Internet are becoming more numerous and complex. There are also more ways to connect to these networks.
New Web 3.0 features are driving the need for faster Internet. In response, major telecommunications operators are introducing broadband to provide a more satisfactory user experience.
- Connect to more devices.
Web 3.0 extends user connectivity beyond desktops and laptops to devices such as mobile phones, tablets and watches.
- Free content.
Free software and Creative Commons licences are more common in Web 3.0.
- Three-dimensional space.
Users can visualise the web in new ways, using three-dimensional space; Google Earth is an excellent example.
- Geospatial web.
Users can access information on the website based on their geographical location.
- Easy-to-use navigation.
New design trends seek to introduce a degree of standardisation, making it easier for users to navigate, while creating a space that can be edited and personalised by the user.
- Cloud Computing.
By creating new storage spaces for software and data, the web is becoming a viable space for a form of ubiquitous computing.
- Connected data.
Increasingly, information services are aggregating data from other sources to unify their response to users.