Is Web3 the future of the Internet?

Mar 1, 2022 |
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If you are curious about technological evolution and the growth of modern tech industries, you might have heard of Web3 and wondered what it stands for. Obvious enough, it does stand for the 3rd version of the web. But we tech enthusiasts want to really understand it, to truly know what it means.

And that curiosity is the reason we are here. After a lot of browsing through the web and an adequate amount of research, we have put together an article detailing the concept, the examples and some observations about the potential future of the Internet. So let us jump in.

The Story Before

Web 3.0 or Web3, as they call it, is a new version of World Wide Web that harnesses the power of Blockchain technology by incorporating modern concepts such as decentralization. The term was coined by Gavin Wood, the co-founder of Ethereum in 2014, and gained popularity in 2021 by cryptocurrency enthusiasts, large tech companies and venture capitalists.
Before Web3, humans have seen two versions of the World Wide Web. Web 1.0 refers roughly to 1991 to 2004 when websites were static and the vast majority of web users were consumers, not producers.

And the present version of the web is known as Web 2.0. It is based on the centralization of data and content in the ‘Big Tech’ companies. Web 2.0 emerged in 2004 possibly as a result of the arrival of social media. It uses the concept of ‘the web as platform’ where webpages are dynamic and the web mainly depends on content created by the users on social media, blogs, wikis and other services.

The Concept

Web3 is currently a work-in-progress and doesn’t truly have a definition yet. However, the main principle is that it will be decentralized – rather than being controlled by governments and corporations. The idea of Web3 mainly revolves around decentralization and the incorporation of blockchain technology.

A Web3 concept described as the DAO or Decentralized Autonomous Organization describes a group, company or collective bound by the regulations coded into a blockchain.

In a DAO-based business, all the product prices as well as who will get paid from it are stored on a blockchain. These rules can only be changed through a process of voting among shareholders of said business. The concept of DAO essentially eliminates the need of middle men, from lawyers to accountants, in running a business.

Technology scholars have argued that Web3 will not be the end of the web as we currently know it. Rather it would run in parallel with Web 2.0 sites while Web 2.0 sites likely adopt Web3 technologies in order to keep their services relevant. However, Web3 has the potential to revolutionize data security, scalability and privacy beyond anything possible today.

Decentralized Applications

During the age of Web2, when someone develops a website, they have to write its backend code and deploy it to a centralized server such as AWS. In case of a decentralized application on the blockchain, the backend code is contained in a smart contract. The developer will also need to build a frontend for the website with the same processes they do now with just one exception. User authentication works quite differently in decentralized apps.

Unlike Web2.0, the end user owns all their data in a decentralized app where usernames and passwords do not exist. Users rather have two unique keys – one public key and one private key. The public key works as an address that can be used by anyone to send the currency to. On the other hand, the private key works as a password that can be used to access one’s personal assets. By using their unique keys, a user can interact with the UI without entering any personal information.

We are, in fact, already seeing applications being built on the concepts of Web3. Let’s take a look at a few examples.

Bitcoin – the first cryptocurrency.
Diaspora – decentralized social networking platform.
Steemit – blockchain-based blogging and social platform.
Augur – decentralized global betting platform.
OpenSea – platform to collect and sell NFTs built on the Ethereum blockchain.
Everledger – blockchain-based supply chain platform.

Is It All Good, Though?

Web3 does sound like a wonderful idea with decentralized data, higher security and massive scalability. But many experts are not as receptive to this concept as one may think while many are seeing this as nothing more than a buzzword. Some critics of Web3 even think the concept is a part of the cryptocurrency bubble which they consider overhyped or harmful. Elon Musk has made several comments about Web3 including that “(Web3) seems more like a marketing buzzword than a reality right now”.

According to a quotation from The Conversation, legal scholars have expressed concerns about regulating a decentralized web which may mean a higher level of difficulty preventing cybercime, online harassment, hate speech and disseminating child abuse images. But the website also states, “[decentralized web] represents the cyber-libertarian views and hopes of the past that the Internet can empower ordinary people by breaking down existing power structures.”

A few Web 2.0 companies such as Reddit and Discord, have explored incorporating Web3 technologies into their platforms which led to heavy user backlash. In November of last year, Discord tweeted that they are considering the incorporation of cryptocurrency wallets into their platform. This tweet received a large number of negative responses from Discord’s users and the announcement was taken down two days later.

On another hand, many critics don’t like the concept of Web3 as it’s built on blockchain which is known as being very energy-intensive and a contributor to carbon immersion and climate change. The Bitcoin blockchain, for instance, estimatedly consumes the same amount of energy as the entirety of Finland. That doesn’t necessarily mean all blockchains are equally energy-intensive as it depends on the algorithm they are built on.

The reality is that we don’t know what Web3 may unfold for the Internet and for our futures. The cryptocurrency bubble may burst and take down the concepts of Web3 with it. Or on the other end of the scale, Web3 may keep growing for another decade and revolutionize the whole Internet giving us a decentralized web with extreme limits and highest security. Time will tell!
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