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What is Web 3.0? Decentralized Internet Explained

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The internet of the future will not only interpret what you type accurately, but will also comprehend everything you convey, whether it is text, voice, or other media. All content you consume will be more tailored to you than ever before.

 A system that gives you full control over the data you share, allows you to earn money if you provide it to advertisers or interact with certain applications, and is free of draconian third-party censorship.

 It’s finally here.

 In 1990, Tim Berners-Lee invented the World Wide Web, also known as the WWW. Now that acronym might as well stand for What Went Wrong?

Early internet promises were based on utopian values such as equality, transparency, and information access. Instead, it created global behemoths like Google (now under Alphabet), Facebook (now Meta), Uber, Amazon and other Web2 giants that arguably turned its users into its products, exploiting their private data in order to profit. 

A flurry of shocking scandals have emerged over the last few years (see Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica debacle) exposing Big Tech’s use of the internet as a giant psychological lab.

Fortunately, a new type of web may end this and restore the internet’s original vision. We are in the midst of a new phase in the web’s evolution. Some early pioneers called it Web 3.0, coined by Polkadot and Ethereum co-founder Gavin Wood. Nowadays, we usually refer to it as Web3.

There has been a dramatic increase in interest in Web3 in 2022, with several companies pivoting towards it and venture capital giants like a16z investing millions into its builders.

Today, there are many Web3 applications that are making great strides, but until the new internet is fully embedded in the web infrastructure, their true potential won’t be apparent. 

What exactly is Web3, and how will it change our lives?

Definition: What Is Web3 (or Web 3.0)?

Web3 is the third generation of the internet currently being built, where websites and apps will be able to process information in a smart human-like way using technologies like artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), Big Data, and decentralized ledger technologies (DLT).

If we look at the transition from Web2 to Web3, Web3 is still a rather undefined concept that might take up to 10 years to build. In fact, we might see a prolonged period of Web2.5, where Web2 platforms gradually adopt useful Web3 protocols.

Blockchain-powered applications will be essential for ensuring adequate decentralization, while AI and machine learning tools will help automate and scale it as needed to become a semantic web.

 A more autonomous, intelligent, and open internet was what Web3 was originally referred to as by World Wide Web inventor Tim Berners-Lee as the Semantic Web.

According to the Web3 definition, data will be interconnected decentrally, a huge leap forward for our current generation of the internet (Web 2.0), in which data is largely stored in centralized repositories and is therefore susceptible to manipulation.

Users and machines will also have the ability to interact with data. However, for this to happen, programs must understand information conceptually and contextually. Semantic webs and artificial intelligence (AI) are the two cornerstones of Web3.

What Is Web3 Used For?

The Web3 technology is still very nascent, but it already offers a number of distinct use cases.

Metaverse

“With Facebook even rebranding to Meta and investing billions into development, the concept of the metaverse dominated tech headlines in 2022, attempting to annex the new digital realm before anyone else. The stock price has tanked and Meta’s earnings have shown that users and investors aren’t very excited about Facebook’s metaverse plans”, says Ivan Lovre Marusic, CEO & Founder of RPG Overload.

A metaverse is essentially a virtual world that is a digital representation of the real world and a 3D version of the Internet. Users can navigate either with computers, phones or VR/AR headsets, providing a deeply immersive experience that will increasingly blur the lines between reality and the virtual world.

Facebook and Google have invested heavily in it early to dominate the sector later, since all this will cost a lot of money to build.

In contrast to other metaverse visions, Web3 offers a fully open, decentralized, interoperable, open-source vision that rewards creators and security contributors fairly.

This is where Web2.5 will come into play, as both industries will work together to make the metaverse a reality.

 Blockchain Gaming

Play-to-earn mania was sparked by the success of Axie Infinity in 2021, which offered gamers the chance to earn money playing games. In the next few years, thousands of copycat blockchain-based games appeared, offering lucrative rewards in the form of native tokens that rocketed at launch before plummeting afterwards.

In spite of the bear market’s devastating effects on crypto gaming, there are still a number of high-quality crypto games being developed, while Web2 gaming giants such as Epic Games are distributing Web3 games as well. When developers figure out how to make blockchain gaming fun and exciting, it is likely to make a strong comeback.

Creator Economy

Web 2.0 giants like Facebook, YouTube, and Spotify often fail to adequately reward artists and creators for the visitors they attract.

In Web3, creator communities of artists, writers, musicians, designers, and developers will be able to bypass intermediaries and connect directly with their audiences and supporters, earning the majority of revenue generated.

Decentralized Autonomous Organizations (DAOs)

Through smart contracts, decentralized autonomous organizations (DAOs) can create an organization that is truly democratic and self-governing, transcending human interference and geographical challenges.

Due to blockchain projects tying DAOs to governance tokens that will soon become worthless, DAOs have taken some flak. However, this innovation could still exist as a dominant organizational structure once projects know how to structure it optimally.

Decentralized Finance (DeFi)

Crypto users were able to invest, borrow, lend, trade, and stake crypto assets permissionless in mid-2020 when decentralized finance (DeFi) exploded in value. The DeFi industry faced its share of security issues as well as scams and hacks, but Web3 has the opportunity to onboard billions of users traditionally neglected by banks.

 Web3 protocols will undoubtedly use DeFi products and services to incentivize their users.

Web3, Cryptocurrency and Blockchain

Web3 networks will operate through decentralized protocols and this will cause a strong convergence between blockchain technology and other related fields. They will be interoperable, seamlessly integrated, automated through smart contracts, and used to power anything from micro transactions to completely changing every company conduct and operate their business. The current slew of DeFi protocols are just the tip of the iceberg.

Web3 Technologies

The concept of Web3 technology isn’t new. Here are a few things we need to keep in mind when looking at it. In 2006, Jeffrey Zeldman, one of the early Web 1.0 and 2.0 developers, published a blog post in which he supported Web3. However, talks about this topic had begun in 2001.

Evolution of the Web3 Technologies

A natural evolution of older web tools will lead to Web3, along with cutting-edge technologies such as artificial intelligence and blockchain, and increased internet usage by users. According to its official name, Internet 3.0 is an upgrade from web 1.0 and 2.0.

Web 1.0: Read (1989-2005)

In the 1990s, Web 1.0, also known as Static Web, offered access to limited information and little to no user interaction. In those days, users could not create user pages or even comment on articles.

In Web 1.0, there were no algorithms to sift internet pages, so finding relevant information was extremely difficult. It was like a one-way highway with a narrow footpath, where content was created by a select few and information was mainly gathered from directories.

Web 2.0: Read-Write (2005-present)

Thanks to advancements in web technologies like JavaScript, HTML5, CSS3, etc., the Social Web or Web 2.0 made the internet a lot more interactive, enabling startups to build interactive web platforms such as YouTube, Facebook, Wikipedia, etc.

As a result, social networks and user-generated content production flourished since data can now be shared and distributed between different platforms.

Several web innovators, including Jeffrey Zeldman, pioneered the tools of this internet era.

Web3 (or Web3): Read-Write-Own (Coming)

With Web3, the internet will be more intelligent or process information with near-human intelligence, thanks to the power of AI systems that can run smart programs to help users. 

According to Tim Berners-Lee, the Semantic Web is meant to “automatically” interface with systems, people and home devices. This means that both humans and machines will be required to create and distribute highly-tailored content directly to each internet user. As a result, content creation and decision-making processes will involve both humans and machines.

What is Web2.5?

Getting to the promised land of Web3 will be easier said than done, and although many incumbent Web2 giants might be struggling at the moment due to tough macroeconomic conditions, they will certainly not roll over and surrender when unproven Web3 projects try to pillage their huge networks.

As a result, Web2 firms will need to audit suitable Web3 technologies and gradually integrate them into their own platforms, to future-proof their businesses, in order to remain competitive. As Reddit’s recent massive rollout of NFT wallets has demonstrated, this will often be subtle and end users won’t be aware that they’re interacting with Web3 technology.

It has already begun, and Meta’s recent announcement that Instagram will use Polygon (MATIC) and Arweave (AR) to help its users create and store NFTs is just the beginning.

In this period of transition known as Web 2.5, traditional brands and companies can interact with Web3 projects while they prepare their businesses for the new worlds of metaverses, NFTs, and SocialFi.

Both Web 2.0 and Web3 startups will benefit from this exchange of knowledge and skill, since Web 2.0 firms can learn from Web3’s innovations, while Web3 startups can learn from Web3’s innovations. Ultimately, Web2 companies may be able to retain users by giving them more freedom, control, and even financial incentives. 

Key Features of Web3

There are five key features of Web3 that can help us understand the next stage of the internet:

 

      Achieving ubiquity

      Web of semantics

      AI (artificial intelligence)

      3D graphics and spatial web

      Blockchain-based decentralization

Ubiquity

In other words, ubiquitous refers to the ability to be everywhere, particularly at the same time. In that sense, Web 2.0 has already become ubiquitous since, for example, Facebook users can instantly capture an image and share it, which then becomes ubiquitous due to the fact that it is accessible to anyone as long as they have access to the social media platform. 

By making the internet accessible to everyone at any time, anywhere, Web3 takes this one step further. With the advent of IoT (Internet of Things), internet-connected devices will no longer be limited to computers and smartphones, as they were in Web 2.0. A multitude of new smart devices will emerge as a result of this technology.

Semantic Web

In semantic(s), words are analyzed in relation to each other. According to Berners-Lee, the Semantic Web allows computers to analyze data from the Web, such as content, transactions, and connections between people. What would it entail in practice? Here are a few examples:

 1. I love Bitcoin

2. I <3 Bitcoin 

The syntax may differ, but the semantics are pretty much the same, since semantics is only concerned with meaning and emotion. 

With semantics applied to the Web, machines can analyze data to decode meaning and emotions, resulting in an improved user experience.

Artificial Intelligence 

Wikipedia defines machine intelligence as intelligence demonstrated by machines.

As a result of their ability to read and interpret data, Web3 machines produce intelligent machines. While Web 2.0 presents similar capabilities, it remains primarily human-driven, which can lead to corrupt behavior, such as biased product reviews and rigged ratings. 

With online review platforms like Trustpilot, a company can simply gather a large group of people and pay them to write positive reviews for undeserving products. To provide reliable information, the internet must learn how to distinguish between the real and the fake.

In response to the Gamespot trading scandal, Google’s artificial intelligence system recently removed over 100,000 negative reviews of Robinhood when rating manipulation was detected. This is AI in action, which will soon seamlessly fit into Internet 3.0, allowing blogs and other online platforms to filter data and tailor it to each user’s liking, enabling blogs and other online platforms to sift data and tailor them to each user’s liking. In the future, AI will be able to filter and provide unbiased data to users as it advances.

Spatial Web and 3D Graphics

With Web3, three-dimensional (3D) virtual worlds are brought into clear focus in a way that blurs the line between physical and virtual.

Gaming applications such as Decentraland, as well as other sectors such as real estate, health, and e-commerce, benefit from 3D graphics.

Decentralization and Blockchain

As a result of their ability to facilitate global decentralized data and value transfer that is 100% trustless, transparent and immutable, blockchain technology and crypto technology have gained a tremendous amount of popularity over the past decade. Because of this, it’s ideal for an internet where information privacy must be protected and third parties cannot censor or sabotage it.

Despite crypto’s past struggles to provide a compelling use case beyond digital gold, the rise of DeFi, NFTs, and now Web3 provides a clear roadmap for the future.

Web3 Applications

“For a Web3 application to be effective, it must be able to digest large amounts of information and convert it into useful knowledge and actions. Despite this, these applications are still in their infancy and have a lot of room for improvement, and they are far from the potential function of Web3 apps.

A number of companies are building or transforming their products into Internet 3.0 applications, including Amazon, Apple, and Google. Examples include Siri, Wolfram Alpha, and Brave Browser”, according to Ivan Lovre Marusic, CEO & Founder, Game Taco.

Siri

Siri’s voice-controlled AI assistant has become increasingly intelligent and has expanded its capabilities with the arrival of the iPhone 4S model. In order to perform complex and personalized commands, Siri uses speech recognition and artificial intelligence, a key component of Web3.

Siri and other AI assistants such as Amazon’s Alexa and Samsung’s Bixby are capable of understanding questions like “where is the nearest burger joint?” or “can you book an appointment with Sasha Marshall at 8:00 am tomorrow?” and responding immediately.

AlphaWolfram

In Wolfram Alpha, you can search “england vs brazil” to see the differences between England and Brazil rather than getting a list of webpages.

In contrast, Alpha would provide you with a detailed comparison of the two countries, as you requested. That’s the key difference between Web 2.0 and 3.0.

Brave Browser

Many browser extensions cross over into crypto territory, including Chrome. However, it’s easy for bad actors to create counterfeit or tweaked versions of these applications, lure potential victims with phishing techniques, and trick them into providing wallet access or sending their crypto to a hacker’s or scammer’s address. 

With Brave, users have more control over their data, privacy, and preferences, such as advertisement, than with Opera’s Crypto Browser, thanks to its Basic Attention Token (BAT). In addition to its integrated VPN and firewall, Brave offers many innovative privacy and security features that protect users from trackers, fingerprinting, and phishing.

Moreover, Brave’s built-in crypto wallet prevents users from being exposed to the risks associated with third-party extensions.

What Are Web3 Cryptos?

Web3 cryptos are a new generation of cryptocurrency assets that are used to build Web3’s fully decentralized internet. 

Using smart contract technology, these cryptocurrencies are native assets of blockchain-powered Web3 projects, which allow web users to transact without the need for intermediaries from Web2 and regain control over their personal data. Cryptocurrencies are used as incentives for governing, securing, and growing their respective chains.

What Do Web3 Cryptos Do?

Using Web3 cryptos, a decentralized version of the Internet, Web3 applications provide users with specific services and rewards.

Among the critical decentralized services offered by Web3 projects are network infrastructure (e.g. Helium and Deeper Network), storage (Arweave and Filecoin), bandwidth and processing power sharing (Theta for video and Render for graphics), indexing of data (e.g. The Graph), and social media (Steem).

Closing Thoughts

In an increasingly digitized world, Web3’s new internet will enhance digital ownership and sovereignty, as well as provide other decentralized benefits that should help create a more equitable internet. The users will be empowered to become sovereign over their own data, which will result in a richer overall experience as a result of a plethora of innovations once it is implemented.

It’s hard to imagine that, with how ingrained smart devices are in our daily routines and how they have changed our behavior patterns, the internet will become increasingly integrated into our daily lives when Web3 inevitably arrives.

 

There is still a bright future for blockchain and crypto, if you know where to look.

 

 

I'm a passionate full-time blogger. I love writing about startups, how they can access key resources, avoid legal mistakes, respond to questions from angel investors as well as the reality check for startups. Continue reading my articles for more insight.

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