What is Web 3.0? The Future of the Digital World

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With all the heated attention and contention surrounding Web 3, you might believe that the concept of a more decentralized third internet era is new.

In fact, “Web 3.0” is the product of two decades of debate about the sociological, cultural, and political distortions caused by the dominance of big internet platforms such as Google and Facebook, as well as the detrimental influence of Web 2.0. data-driven economy. It predates Web 3, the current crypto-based incarnation promoted by Ethereum and Polkadot co-founder Gavin Wood in a 2014 blog post reprinted by CoinDesk last week.

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Web 3.0 Technology, the Future of the Digital World Can't Be Underestimated

Both sides of this flaming discussion have sound arguments. There is Chris Dixon's perspective that Web 3 ventures provide genuine value, and Jack Dorsey's position that the phrase is a marketing ploy used by venture capitalists to increase their stock and token investments.

The fact that intelligent individuals – including the two famous “Tims” (described below) – have studied escape strategies from Web 2.0 for such a long period of time implies that Web 3 initiatives have admirable goals and there will be public and corporate profits if they succeed. .

On the other hand, this long history serves as a reminder that tackling such a huge problem is difficult, and investors would be wise to treat exaggerated claims with a grain of salt.

Putting aside personal feelings about either of these establishments, it is important to concentrate on the fundamental structural faults with Web 2.0 and why they need to be changed. This points to the fundamental problem that demands the advancement of the Web 3: the mismatch of interests of the big Internet corporations and the general public.

While blockchain technology can help in tackling this, it is by no means the only or even the most important component of the solution. 

We need a combination of technology (decentralized and centralized), legislation, and economic logic to enable business models that reconcile opposing private and public interests.

But first, seeing how we got here requires an examination of Web 3's long history.

Web 3 Stands for 'Not Web 2.0'

Web 3 stands for 'not Web 2.0'.

Web 3 is theoretically closely linked to the idea that society should free itself from Web 2.0 and the difficulties of its monopolization. For a long time, Web 3 referred to “the model that follows Web 2.0.”

Sir Tim Berners-Lee foresaw the need for an update in 2006, when he coined the phrase “Web 3.0” to represent an old vision for a new “Semantic Web,” according to a recent article by renowned technology publisher Tim O' Reilly. 

Berners-Lee anticipates that the advent of universal data formats and artificial intelligence will eliminate the need for third-party intermediaries, enabling real “machine-to-machine” communication networks.

It's unclear whether Berners-Lee actually coined the term "Web 3.0." (As quoted in O'Reilly's column of a 2006 New York Times story, the famous computer scientist said, "People keep wondering what Web 3.0 is," implying that the word has been used before.) debatable is that he started the phrase “Web 2.0,” organizing a 2004 conference around the concept before explaining it in a seminal 2005 article.

By 2004, it was established that Google, Facebook, and Amazon—which survived the dot.com boom of the late nineties—had consolidated enormous market dominance around a growing value community.

What O'Reilly achieved was to give a name to the new network effects-driven economic model that enabled their dominance: an ever-growing mass user base on a shared platform whose expansion was self-fulfilling by attracting further users, thus creating a honeypot for advertising.

The emergence of these powerful intermediaries represents a major departure from the early concept of a decentralized internet, where producers and consumers of information were meant to enjoy direct, unlicensed access to one another.

Most people don't realize that this method is socially detrimental, that the platform's capacity to collect an unprecedented amount of user data and package it for advertisements and other buyers of that data will grow into “Surveillance Capitalism.”

Little did people know that we would become dependent on the indisputable control some of these platforms have over information, much less how, by giving up access to our eyes and clicking our fingers, we would be monitored, herded into echo chamber groups, and manipulated with targeted advertising and unwitting disinformation.

That's what I mean by a mismatched business model, one that benefits producers but does not benefit consumers. It is a highly dysfunctional method of disseminating knowledge throughout society. That's the dilemma the future Web will have to solve.

'Web 3.0' Was Renamed to 'Web 3'

'Web 3.0' was renamed to 'Web 3'.

By the time Gavin Wood's 2014 work was published, it was evident that we were falling apart. In addition, there is a new perspective.

Not only proponents of blockchain technology are promoting it as a means to solve centralized internet problems, but also as a creative method of presenting it.

By focusing on the blockchain-centered concept of “trust”, Wood, who was the co-founder of Ethereum at the time, turned our attention away from the standard economic theory that the inefficiencies of decentralization paved the way for centralized monopoly and towards meta Web 2.0. 

Problem: distrust among decentralized communities leads people to trust centralized entities by coordinating their money and exchange of valuable information. What was always true for banks and money can now be observed in the field of data exchange.

The next step is to argue that by replacing trust in centralized companies like Google, blockchains like Ethereum provide an alternative method of recording verifiable and “correct” trades through open protocols and a decentralized network of validators.

If we can do that, the reasoning continues, we can finally replace monopolistic platforms with decentralized data sharing communities. A business model will evolve where applications support financial transactions and community information, but sovereignty over that valuable personal data will remain entirely in the hands of individual users, in line with the concept of “self-sovereign identity”.

Wood was so committed to these concepts that, following his departure from Ethereum, he devoted his efforts at Parity Labs to this enormous fix-the-internet mission. In 2017, he founded the Web3 Foundation, which essentially rebranded Web 3.0 to Web 3.

Building a Bridge

web 3 Building a bridge to crypto

Will we achieve this goal four years later, with Web 3 becoming a household term and mostly connected with crypto goods such as non-fungible tokens (NFT)?

The verdict isn't out yet. For one study, consider Twitter critiques such as those made by former Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, who suggested that Web 3 businesses were more concerned with venture capital gains than actual functionality. 

For example, consider polite answers from people like Balaji Srinivasan, who argues that untrustworthy Ethereum “smart contracts” are preferable to Twitter users' reliance on the platform's “social contracts.”

Or consider the blog post of Signal founder Moxie Marlinspike (real name: Matthew Rosenfeld), who argues that Web 3 is much more difficult to achieve than crypto enthusiasts believe, because the cost and complexity of running their own web server naturally makes people delay control for the platform. more efficient centralized. This elicited a nuanced response from Mike Hearn, a former Bitcoin core developer.

He then points to the Bitcoin SPV (simplified payment verification) wallet as an example of lightweight user-controlled software capable of processing data while maintaining integrity and avoiding dependence on centralized servers.

Each side makes an interesting case. One thing is for sure: we still have a long way to go before we can truly escape The Matrix. Blockchain's “trustless” trading model, as well as the emergence of decentralized autonomous organizations (DAOs), where collective action forces can overcome the network effect benefits of a centralized platform, could be part of the solution.

However, much more is needed. As O'Reilly noted in a more recent article, if Web 3 is to go beyond “idealism” and evolve into a “common system for decentralized trust,” it must create solid interfaces to the real world, its legal systems, and its operational economics. .


Fortunately, such a bridge is being built. They will be driven by demand. For starters, the entry of mainstream lawyer-controlled media businesses into the NFT industry and the metaverse will require the development of these standardized characteristics. However, in O'Reilly's opinion, blockchain and cryptocurrencies are not a stand-alone answer. Many other components are required.

Let us not lose sight of the point here: for the benefit of mankind, we need a way out of the Web 2.0 quagmire. Keep up the good work, Web 3 developer.

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