Yet another new buzzword has got the internet excited, but what exactly is Web3? Here’s everything you need to know.
The idea behind Web3 is to take the world wide web as we know it and add blockchains – the technology behind cryptocurrencies like bitcoin – to everything.
Why would you want to do that?
The web was once seen as a utopia in which anyone could do anything, but proponents of Web3 say it is now dominated by big corporations and proprietary algorithms. Blockchains could give people equitable ownership of their presence on the internet.
Hang on, what about Webs 1 and 2?
The first web was just the world wide web, launched by Tim Berners-Lee in 1989, which allowed people with technical know-how to put information online. Web 2.0, first named in a 1999 magazine article, saw easy-to-use tools that let anyone create content online, not just experts, but at a cost of centralizing into the tech giants like Facebook and Google.
So, what does it involve?
At the core of Web3 are distributed applications (or dapps) built using the Ethereum blockchain, which pays out to users who help keep its network online. Dapps will play a similar role for Web3 that the App Store did in unlocking the potential of the iPhone, says Zoe Scaman, founder of London strategy studio Bodacious and a Web3 proponent.
What dapps are there now?
Of the top five dapps at present, the most popular one allows people to swap cryptocurrencies, while another is for trading non-fungible tokens (NFTs). The other three are games, like early breakout successes on the App Store.
I’m still not clear how the way I use the internet will change
Proponents say it is a bold new future designed to wrest control away from big tech platforms and to put power in the hands of everyday citizens.
So, are the skeptics correct?
The kinks have yet to be ironed out of Web3’s promise, and the word has been latched onto by those trying to make a quick buck. Even its boosters, like Scaman, have warned of scams and pump and dump schemes allied to the word.