Web3 has the potential to disrupt just about everything we know about life on the internet and who controls it. But as with any rapidly evolving technology, it can be difficult to separate fact from wishful thinking. So if you’re having trouble navigating the Web3 hype – or are wondering why Web3 is so important – this article is for you.
First off, what is Web 3.0?
Web3 or Web 3.0 is basically the next iteration of the Internet. It ties in with the previous two evolutionary phases of the internet, i.e. Web1 (or Web 1.0), the birth of the internet we all know and love, and then Web2 (aka Web 2.0), the more interactive, user-generated, social media -driven web that has exploded in the last decade.
Web3 represents the internet’s next major evolutionary leap – a leap fueled by blockchain, NFTs and cryptocurrency. But perhaps web3’s most important feature is decentralization, which brings us to our first reason why you should care about web3.
In the decentralized Web3 age, internet users will have more control
At least that’s the idea. Because web3 represents a decentralized Internet, in contrast to today’s highly centralized Internet. If you think about it, most of the websites we use today are owned by big companies (like Meta, Google, and Amazon) and – to some extent – controlled by government regulations. Power is centralized.
Web1 and Web2 evolved this way because the infrastructure required to build and run the internet is expensive and someone has to pay for it! These powerful companies recoup their investments (and, let’s be honest, a lot more) either by charging us for using their services or by collecting and using (often selling) our extremely valuable personal information. Web3 and the decentralized internet promise to change all of that, or at least ensure that centralization isn’t the only way forward. How is that possible? Because web3 platforms are largely powered by token-based economics and blockchain-based infrastructures – where normally no central authority is in charge and users can transact and interact without third-party intervention.
A good example of the decentralized web comes from Secretum, a messaging app aiming to become the Web3 version of WhatsApp or WeChat. Secretum users can connect without an email address or phone number, which promotes user privacy, and there is a built-in trading feature that allows users to securely trade crypto and NFTs without the oversight of banks or other intermediaries.
Web3 could trigger a major power shift
Looking at this vision of a decentralized internet, in which control is removed from intermediaries and authorities and placed in the hands of users, it is clear that this represents a major power shift. With web3, we could freely access the Internet without revealing our personal information, have full ownership of our data, and not be dependent on centralized authorities that don’t always have our best interests at heart. It’s a rejection of how things are currently done. It’s a battle cry of sorts.
The question is, will web3 actually lead to reducing the enormous control that those in power today have and making the internet more democratic? Certainly big tech giants, central banks and governments have a vested interest in maintaining some oversight – and of course we all want the internet to be a safe place, not the new Wild West.
Ultimately, I suspect organizations like Meta will evolve and new organizations will emerge to facilitate Web3 interactions — for example, with a digital wallet managed and protected by a third-party platform. Of course, this is still a form of centralization. But I believe that web3 will offer us the opportunity to create a fairer Internet, where users have more choice and greater autonomy.
Web3 will underpin much of the metaverse
Web3 technologies are inherently linked to the development of the metaverse as they enable us to interact and transact with others in metaverse environments. For example, NFTs and blockchain – both Web3 technologies – will allow us to own and trade digital assets in the metaverse, whether it’s digital art, digital land, or digital sneakers. Cryptocurrency will most likely form the basis of economic and monetary systems in the Metaverse. And many of the virtual worlds that will eventually be part of the metaverse (places like the Decentraland virtual world) are blockchain based.
Basically, the metaverse cannot reach its full potential without Web3 technologies. So if you hear people like me getting excited about the Metaverse, you know that web3 is an important part of that future.
NFTs will find use in the real world
We’ve all seen the crazy price swings and headlines surrounding the sale of NFTs. But if we think of NFTs as digital tokens representing ownership of assets, it’s clear that NFTs can offer much more value than just trading JPEGs of cartoon animals.
In fact, many experts believe that “utility” NFTs are used to represent ownership of real-world objects and assets such as event tickets. Imagine the Burning Man Festival decided to sell lifetime tickets and you bought one of those tickets. It’s much easier and safer to have as an NFT than to keep a paper copy or email confirmation in an account that you won’t be using in 20 years.
Blockchain will transform business operations
So far we haven’t touched on the business implications of web3, but I believe this next evolution of the web will have a significant impact on how businesses operate. The most transformative Web3 technology for business is undoubtedly blockchain. In fact, I already see blockchain being used across a variety of industries.
For example, blockchain is ideally suited to the supply chain, where it can be used to facilitate the movement of goods from one party to another and allow businesses to track the status of goods in real time. In this way, blockchain increases the security and transparency of the supply chain and makes the entire process much more efficient overall. That’s why Walmart and its Food Safety Collaboration Center in Beijing use blockchain to track provenance details, lot numbers, factory and processing dates, expiration dates, storage temperature, and shipping details for pork.
Any industry that needs to track shipments, materials and products can benefit from blockchain – and this is just one example of how blockchain will revolutionize the world of business. So if you think web3 isn’t relevant to your business, think again.
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Bernard Marr is an international best-selling author, popular keynote speaker, futurist and strategic business and technology advisor to governments and corporations. He helps companies improve their business performance, use data more intelligently and understand the impact of new technologies such as artificial intelligence, big data, blockchains and the Internet of Things. Why not connect with Bernard on Twitter (@bernardmarr), LinkedIn (https://uk.linkedin.com/in/bernardmarr) or Instagram (bernard.marr)?
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