- The dominance of big technology in the use of the Internet and its control over personal data has led to calls for the decentralization of the network.
- The third iteration of the Internet – Web3 – will be determined by open source technology, using blockchain technology to be untrusted and unauthorized.
- Web3 is still in its infancy and there are still big questions to be answered.
With the development of the Internet, its impact on us has been profound, shaped by everything from what we read, the products we buy, the entertainment we watch and how we communicate. He seems to know all about us – his likes, dislikes, friends, shopping habits, favorite cat videos.
This intimate knowledge can be inferred as good or bad. You can be targeted with ads for products you didn’t know you wanted and news articles you didn’t know you wanted to read will be suggested. This customization can be convenient but also invasive.
There are many concerns about who can access and control this personal information. The big technology has come under increasing criticism for its use and misuse of personal data, along with its significant online impact based on its market dominance. As of 2019, 43% of all traffic flows through Google (Alphabet), Amazon, Meta (formerly Facebook), Netflix, Microsoft, and Apple.
This dominance is most acute within its core categories, with Google controlling nearly 87% of the global search market and Meta reaching 3.6 billion unique users across its four major platforms (Facebook, Whatsapp, Messenger and Instagram).
Reclaiming the power of big technology
Web3 is a new iteration of the Internet that uses blockchain to decentralize management and thus reduce the control of big companies, such as Google or Meta, and make them more democratic. It is defined by open source software, which is untrusted – does not require the support of a trusted intermediary – and is unauthorized (has no administrative body).
Web3 draws its name as the third iteration of the Internet. The first iteration of the Internet consisted of static, read-only web pages (see BBC homepage from August 2000 as an example). Web 2.0 has added the ability to interact with and produce content, making activities such as social media, banking, and online shopping possible.
The concept of Web3 has been around for more than half a decade and was originally coined by Ethereum founder Gavin Wood in 2014. However, it gained momentum in 2021 with the proliferation of blockchain technologies, expansion of NFT markets, venture capital investments and constant calls to control the power of the technology the big one.
Web3 high in practice
The current Internet, Web 2.0, is based on systems and servers largely owned by major corporations, which raises concerns about system vulnerability and control. When its associated Meta platforms suffered a global outage in early October – exacerbated by the centralization of their servers – there were calls for the adoption of Web3 and its decentralized architecture.
Supporters of Web3 adoption also advocate that Internet activity be governed by the many people rather than the incentives and prejudices of the few. After all, why should big companies control our data?
In the world of Web3, activities and data will be hosted on a network of computers that use the blockchain rather than on corporate servers. The internet will likely have the same look and feel, at least initially, but your online activities will be represented by your crypto wallet, websites hosted by decentralized applications (dapps), and digital applications running on the blockchain network.
Web3 definition can vary by source; However, some consistent features are likely to be included in the system:
An anonymous single sign-on will allow for a single username and authentication method across all websites and accounts, rather than single logins for each site. This login will not require you to relinquish control of sensitive personal data.
This feature differs from your existing single sign-on on Facebook or Google, which grants access to your personal data until you revoke that access. However, all transactions on the blockchain are public, so technically everyone can see the assets and data assigned to a particular wallet. This transparency is also the reason why wallets are anonymous, identified only by a title, not a name unless the individual chooses to assign personal details to the wallet(s).
Sole Proprietorship and Coding
Activities that contribute to Web3 are rewarded with a token (either NFT or exchangeable, such as cryptocurrency) to incentivize participation and distribution of ownership.
For example, when you post a new social message, the NFT that represents that post will be “mined” and stored as an asset in a crypto wallet. This token represents ownership of the message, which can then be traded with others via their wallets. If the post is popular, the proceeds will go to the token owner rather than the platform that hosts it.
Along with the distribution of ownership is the distribution of decision-making power. Without a central authority, the blockchain relies on the entire network to verify activity via consensus. However, specific systems, such as those used in decentralized autonomous organizations, can be created to democratize decision-making based on the quality or size of a user’s investment in a site or dapp.
For example, based on their ownership stake in the platform, users can vote on the rules that govern the site (for example, what is classified as misinformation). These rules are then implemented by smart contracts.
Web3 in its infancy
Although there are many Web3 dapps, there is no web3 infrastructure as extensive as the current Internet. Extensive development, standardization, and accessibility efforts are needed before the Web3 vision, if any, can be realized.
There are many considerations for widespread adoption, which means that Web3 may not live up to the promised hype. Questions remain, such as can Web3 be scaled sustainably? Will Web3 Really Provide Dominion over the Internet? Can we educate and transform the culture of the masses to understand Web3?
There are no one-word answers to these questions, but we look forward to revealing their potential and challenges in future articles.