There’s a lot of buzz about a new word. Web 3.0. Glance, even briefly, at any cryptocurrency landing page, and the phrase ‘web 3.0’ (or web3), will blare out at you. In the recent congressional hearing, crypto execs kept name-dropping this new conception of the internet, and why it’s both inevitable and represents progress.
Yet what, exactly, is Web 3.0? And why is it more than just a buzzword? Instead it’s a concept that will drive a new understanding of how the world – and by extension we – live, work, and play.
What are Web 1.0 and 2.0?
The internet has evolved stupendously over the last twenty years. Saying this isn’t even insight, but it is worth thinking about the stages of that progression, stages that are now referred to as Web 1.0 and Web 2.0.
In the beginning, the internet was naught but a series of storefronts accessed through specific addresses. Type in the address, and you would be whisked to whatever the corporation or individual had placed on the domain accessed. Search was minimal to non-existent. You had to know exactly what to type in to get what you wanted. The internet was also, crucially, not ‘always on.’ It was a pastime, something to be done for a few hours to do some shopping, or post on a forum outpost.
Web 2.0 arrived with the advent of three things: social, search, and always-on connectivity. Social, in that the largest tech companies today funnel user content to other users rather than making it themselves. Search, like Google lets cottage industries gain wide customer bases if they compete on search rankings, and always-on connectivity means that the internet can provide services that fill every single niche in modern life. Combine this with the ability for browsers to run software akin to the standard PC, and ‘there’s an app for that’ is the common refrain of the 21st century.
The Problem of Control
Web 2.0, and the gargantuan tech companies it has sent hurtling to the top of the S&P 500, has a problem though – one that people are waking up to day by day. Even your parents are starting to worry that Facebook is stealing their data. The internet is a permissioned network. It’s accessed through centralised ISPs and the services and features you use on it are opaque. As a result, it can be taken from you anytime. Your privileges can be revoked, on any platform, for any arbitrary reason the controller decides. It’s scary to think you can be shut off from something you depend on every day, but you can.
You also do not know what Facebook knows about you, or how its software works. The same is true for every other tech company. ‘Big data’, which chronicles your habits, desires, usage, lifestyle, lets companies know how to hack your psyche for their personal profit. You are now the product, and your likes and dislikes merely gristle for the corporate machine.
Web 3.0, first coined by Ethereum co-founder Gavin Wood, has three main aims: to be open, permissionless, and trustless. The software should be open-source, not hidden away. There should be no permissions granted. and no random revocations of access, and trustless so that activities are ratified by a consensual base of users and no one person or entity can change things on their own whim. It seeks to break control of the internet away from the companies, and even governments, that seek to control it.
The blockchain and DLT is central to all this. By decentralising control over the operations of the internet, it breaks the monopoly of control that any individual entity has over it. Web 3.0 will allow data to be reclaimed by the individual, for transactional operations to not be overseen (and thus possibly vetoed) by one entity, and for the software we use to be community-approved, open to all, and completely transparent.
A Web 3.0 wallet, like Numio’s, will be a user’s starting point when interacting with this new economy. Most decentralised applications require a wallet to use, as it contains the tokens that are the lifeblood for them. They are the starting point for interaction in this new internet, a decentralised, transparent, and free internet that will allow the web to reach its full potential.