METAVERSE

Is web 3.0 really all about blockchain? | by David Adesanya | Mar, 2022

How will the year 2030 look? 2010 seems just like yesterday. The whole world was either using a Blackberry, a fancy Nokia, or some trendy alternative. 100MB of internet data was a big deal where I grew up. I’d download soccer games for 2MB apiece on my java phone. Fast forward to this present day, Nokia has lost its glory, and Blackberry? Replace the M in the acronym of the parent company with a P — it’s Research In M otion, by the way — and you’d see how far that has come. Inflation has hit the data world too. 100MB can’t do much anymore. In short, everything has changed. However, the change we have experienced in those twelve years pales in comparison to what we anticipate our reality will be eight years from today. We see the roots taking shape in all aspects of our society. One of the most breathtaking things we’re already experiencing is called web3.

We’ll start with web 1.0. Web 1.0, as it is retroactively named, refers to the first era in the evolution of the internet. It was the early days, referred to as the internet of information. This period was characterized by little interactivity as the typical web user was just a content consumer. Web 1.0 webpages were composed of static pages hosted on web servers managed by internet service providers (ISP) or hosted using free web hosting services. There was no way for the user to communicate with the websites directly. So web 1.0 was a content delivery network (CDN) with few content creators. E-commerce is a perfect example of limited interaction in that era. The user would scan through the products — and in the likely event that no button was created to order — copy an email from the website, and purchase via that medium. There was no integrated payment processor. There was no way to give feedback or comment directly on the site. Just view, decide, and order. Also, compared to what we have today, advertisements were not permitted.

The progression from web 1.0 to web 2.0 was a gradual process that came about as servers were upgraded, and internet speeds and global adoption improved significantly over time. Creators developed new skills and techniques. The web 2.0 era is referred to as the internet of expression or the social web. In this era, companies like Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, YouTube, Flickr, e.t.c., were instrumental in transforming the internet into a more user-centric space. Users became the stars of their digital environments. They could finally interact with web pages. They could upload everything to the internet — likes and dislikes, routines, videos, pictures, you name it. This “opening” of the internet to more people’s expressions meant that individuals or entities could amass a following or fame from their content. It also meant that these corporations had access to insane amounts of user data. Such digital footprints were goldmines.

Unsurprisingly, advertisements became a thing — a very lucrative one. This power came with centralization and the ability to censor. The more successful the company, the more power they wielded (and some still do). Have you ever wondered why after you randomly searched online for “Vacuum cleaners that fly around the house,” subsequent visits to other unrelated sites had something lurking in the corner about flying vacuums? I should add that I don’t know if flying vacuum cleaners exist. Feel free to Google that. The point here is that there’s so much of your data with these corporations that they could predict your likes, dislikes, and every other thing based on what they already know about you. Humans are creatures of habit, and you’d be surprised by how patterned your actions are. They make money off your data, you get none of it, and you don’t really have a say on how it is used.

Of course, web 2.0 is by no means evil. In most environments, greater fairness among participants is attainable. Such was the case with web 1.0 — web 2.0. The internet became more open, and more people could participate. Now, enter web 3.0……..or web3?

Web 3.0 is the next phase in the evolution of the internet. It was described by Tim Berners-Lee and is a machine-readable web of data. In web 3.0, value is traded between parties without explicit trust or intermediaries. With AI and machine learning enabling better communication between websites, the trust is domiciled in the integrity of the network and not in the participants. There have been accusations by some top tech execs that crypto workers have tried to rebrand and market blockchain technology as web 3.0. Although both are deeply intertwined and often used interchangeably, there is a distinction, within a more technical context, between web 3.0 and web3. web3, coined by Ethereum cofounder Gavin Wood, is a blockchain-based adaptation that has emerged to become one of the pillars of web 3.0. Its primary anchors are decentralization, privacy, and a lower bar for participation in the global web through token economics.

We could argue that the crypto space brought the general awareness that a new dawn is upon us. In web3, users have greater control of their data and privacy because of the anonymity provided by blockchain technology. The openness of the system to otherwise alienated individuals means that as a collective, users have even more say than they did before. Blockchain technology has been instrumental in decentralizing finance and in fostering anonymity for the past decade. The opportunities are still endless at this point. We can see greater social participation in corporate decisions through DAOs. We can see new trends and markets like NFTs — which assign digital on-chain ownership of properties to individuals — and the metaverse.

With how connected both terms are, it’s easy to see why they seem to be one and the same to most people. However, for the sake of clarity, web3 is a piece of the web 3.0 puzzle. As other aspects start to develop, we will gain a greater and more practical understanding of both concepts and come to appreciate their synergy even more.

Photo credit: Miguel Á. Padriñán from Pexels

Traciwininger
Author: Traciwininger

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