The internet is a constantly growing and evolving landscape. In 2000, there were only 413 million internet users. Now, there are well over 3.4 billion.
The internet’s growth and evolution are not limited to the number of people accessing it. It includes the technology that goes into creating and shaping the internet itself. Because of this, we are moving from the era of Web 2.0 to the era of Web3.
But what is Web3, and why should you care about it? Keep reading to find out the answers to these questions and more.
Web3 is a version of the internet. However, as you may have guessed from the name, Web3 is not the first version. To fully understand Web3, it is necessary to understand the previous two versions first.
The first version of the internet, Web 1.0, was extremely basic. It mostly consisted of a series of static pages. There wasn’t much interaction between people on the internet, and even the pages themselves were relatively independent of one another. Think of this version of the internet as a library; you can look at things and check them out, but you can’t write in the books or add your own books.
The next version of the internet, Web 2.0, was more robust. It saw the rise of internet forums and, later on, social media websites, where interactions blossomed and people put their own content out there. Meanwhile, it became easier to make a website, so individuals, businesses, and many other groups began creating their own websites. On top of this, the entire internet became easier to use as the ecosystem was made to be more accessible to the average person. This is the version of the internet with which most people are familiar.
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While Web 2.0 made the internet easier to use and made it easier for people to put their own content out there, over time, it began to centralize. At this point in time, Web 2.0 is essentially dominated by five massive companies, Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Microsoft, and Google (Alphabet), referred to as the Big Five.
The Big Five have a $4 trillion grip on the market. They dominate the web and are in the business of buying and selling data and information.
What Is Web3?
The problems with Web 2.0 have led to the creation of Web3, or Web 3.0. This version of the internet is an attempt at decentralizing the web. Rather than the majority of the data, information, and even webpages being owned by the Big Five, Web3 emphasizes user ownership.
This is primarily possible through the use of blockchain technology. With blockchain technology, individual internet users can actually hold a level of ownership over a piece of the web itself. This is because each segment of the blockchain is unique and, as such, can be tied to an individual.
We are also at the point of Web3, where the technology is more accessible for the average person. Early adopters of the technology had to be relatively tech-savvy to know what was going on and how to approach it. Now, just about anyone can own part of the blockchain, and Bitcoin debit cards are even available.
Almost everything on the internet is ethereal. You don’t actually own your personal Twitter page or your Facebook profile. Instead, the companies that run these sites own your pages; they simply allow you to edit them to a limited degree.
With Web3, this is different. Blockchain technology allows you to actually own a piece of the digital landscape. This level of digital ownership is a unique idea that solves many basic problems with digital ownership. This can be used in many different ways.
For example, imagine an online video game where your character collects treasure from across a fantasy world. If this game were run on previous versions of the internet, those digital treasures would be owned by the company running the game. If the company ever decided to reset the game and remove all currently accumulated treasures from the game, you would lose access to them forever. However, with Web3, ownership of those treasures could be tied to the blockchain. By owning a piece of the blockchain, you have the key to those treasures, a key that can never be taken from you.
This is just one way in which Web3 changes things. This level of ownership translates in different ways depending on the digital platform. In games, it can involve ownership over an item; however, it could also involve ownership of tickets or a share in a company. In this last case, it could even give a user voting rights when the company is making decisions.
Should You Care About Web3?
Ultimately, the designations between the different versions of the internet are somewhat subjective. The internet evolves slowly over a long period of time, so there isn’t really a jump from one era to the next. Because of this, many insist that Web3 isn’t that big of a deal. It is just the natural evolution of the internet, not some entirely new platform that needs to be explored.
In addition, Web3’s attempt at decentralization is being undermined by the very companies it was meant to separate itself from. In many cases, the new technologies powering Web3 come from the Big Five. In addition, Facebook’s venture into the metaverse shows that the Big Five have the resources to craft segments of Web3 on their own. While it is still too early to tell how centralized Web3 will become, some are worried about its future.
In general, it is always helpful to stay on top of trends, especially in the constantly evolving digital world. However, the degree you care about the specific changes within Web3 is up to you.
Web3 is bringing some changes to the way people interact with the internet. It emphasizes ownership and makes a drive toward decentralization. Knowing and understanding this has the potential to help you make better use of the internet going forward.
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