Back The emergence of Web3
Many of us will be aware by now of Web3, with a growing number of voices heralding it as the future of the internet. This concept is receiving considerable coverage at conferences, in the technology press and on internet forums. The term ‘Web3’ was initially coined by one of the Ethereum co-founders in 2014 as a term to describe the next iteration of the web.
The evolution of the web
The early internet was Web1 (1990-2004). It was described as ‘read-only’, since whilst the more technically minded users ran their own web servers, most of the people interacting with the web consumed the content but did not create or contribute to the web.
Web2 (2004-now) is described as ‘read-write’, where people create content almost as much as they consume it. However, people are predominantly creating content in social media or content platforms such as Facebook and Twitter which are owned by someone else. This has led to private entities having control over much of the content and personal data that we share. These companies capitalise on our data and often use advertising to generate revenue.
Web3 is similarly described as ‘read-write-own’, where people retain control over their data. It uses blockchain technology, with the promise of being decentralised, trustless, permissionless, stateful and distributed. Web3 sees the internet becoming a network of decentralised apps (dApps) and you will see this term often used in the Web3 space.
Blockchain and Web3
Web3 will use cryptocurrencies and tokens as the medium of exchange and will exist largely outside the control of governments, and be free from censorship. We can say that blockchain now comes under a new guise, with the name Web3 as an umbrella term.
Web3’s next major frontier is limiting corporate and political control of data and reducing environmental waste caused by the excessive building of hardware. Perhaps the most compelling argument for decentralising computation and storage is that we can redistribute the profits associated with hosting and deploying infrastructure.
There is also an argument that we don’t need a blockchain to solve the centralisation problems that exist in Web3. Take for example Mastodon, an open-source Twitter competitor, which runs on a decentralised network of nodes.
Why is Web3 massively hyped?
Every technology is hyped to a certain degree. Examining the potential of Web3, Forrester researched the new technology and determined that there are two primary issues with Web3. Firstly, it is currently dominated by opportunists and investors in cryptocurrencies and various digital assets, particularly non-fungible tokens (NFTs), all operating within a largely unregulated environment. The second issue is that the core principles of Web3 are simply not applicable in today’s internet ecosystem.
Web3 apps are prime targets for threat actors because the tokens have a monetary value. The source code running on the blockchain is easily accessible and it is not protected by the types of security systems that protect an organisation’s infrastructure.
Web3 promises an alternative model and a more decentralised approach. However, we must remember that whilst the technology may be neutral, the humans that both build and interact with the products are not. We are entering an exciting time, full of disruptive concepts in Web3 and must try to make this next era of the internet more compelling, and kinder, than the last.