What Is Web3 and Why Should You Care?

Gizmodo’s David Nield explains what Web3 is, what it will mean for the future, and how exactly the third-generation internet differs from the first two. An anonymous reader shares an excerpt from his report:

Let’s cut to the chase: For Web3 evangelists, it’s a revolution; for skeptics, it’s an overhyped house of cards that doesn’t stand up to much scrutiny. […] As you might remember if you’re of a certain age, Web 1.0 was the era of static webpages. Sites displayed news and information, and maybe you had your own little corner of the World Wide Web to show off your personal interests and hobbies. Images were discouraged – they took up too much bandwidth – and video was out of the question. With the dawn of the 21st century, Web 1.0 gave way to Web 2.0 – a more dynamic, editable, user-driven internet. Static was out and webpages became more interactive and app-like (see Gmail, for example). Many of us signed up for social media accounts and blogs that we used to put our own content on the web in vast amounts. Images and video no longer reduced sites to a crawl, and we started sharing them in huge numbers. And now the dawn of Web3 is upon us. People define it in a few different ways, but at its core is the idea of decentralization, which we’ve seen with cryptocurrencies (key drivers of Web3). Rather than Google, Apple, Microsoft, Amazon, and Facebook (sorry, Meta) hoarding everything, the internet will supposedly become more democratized.

Key to this decentralization is blockchain technology, which creates publicly visible and verifiable ledgers of record that can be accessed by anyone, anywhere. The blockchain already underpins Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, as well as a number of fledging technologies, and it’s tightly interwoven into the future vision of everything that Web3 promises. The idea is that everything you do, from shopping to social media, is handled through the sane secure processes, with both more privacy and more transparency baked in. In some ways, Web3 is a mix of the two eras that came before it: The advanced, dynamic, app-like tech of the modern web, combined with the decentralized, user-driven philosophy that was around at the start of the internet, before billion- and trillion-dollar corporations owned everything. Web3 shifts the power dynamic from the giant tech entities back to the users – or at least that’s the theory.

In its current form, Web3 rewards users with tokens, which will eventually be used in a variety of ways, including currency or as votes to influence the future of technology. In this brave new world, the value generated by the web will be shared out between many more users and more companies and more services, with much-improved interoperability. NFTs are closely linked to the Web3 vision. […] For our purposes here, the link between cryptocurrencies, NFTs, and Web3 is the foundation: the blockchain. Throw in some artificial intelligence and some machine learning to do everything from filter out unnecessary data to spot security threats, and you’ve got just about every emerging digital technology covered with Web3. Right now Ethereum is the blockchain attracting the most Web3 interest (it supports both a cryptocurrency and an NFT system, and you can do everything from make a payment through it to build an app on it).

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