Ready for a smarter, faster, more secure internet? Tech experts say Web 3 is on the horizon, and it’ll be powered by the same blockchain technology fueling the ongoing cryptocurrency craze. However, the current hype has led to some misconceptions surrounding Web 3, and it’s important to separate the buzz from the hard facts.
Misconceptions and Myths about Web 3 and Where It’s Taking Us.
Currently, there is no perfect technical definition for “Web 3”. In fact, it should be thought of as an idea (or a system of interconnected ideas) rather than a specific technology. As a result, Web3 (sometimes stylized as Web3 or Web 3.0) refers to the entire breadth of possibilities for the next iteration of the Internet.
Web3 technologies remain largely unimplemented in the real world at this point—at least on a broad scale accessible to the average consumer. However, technological advances and business deals with the potential to change the future of the Internet are being made nearly every single day. In 2021, we find ourselves already beginning the transition from Web 2.0 to Web 3.0 without knowing exactly what that transition will look like or what it might mean for our online lives.
Who Decides What Web3 Is?
One of the problems with making predictions surrounding Web3 is the sheer number of individuals, organizations, and businesses that have a stake in the future of the Internet. Together, all these entities have trouble agreeing on what Web 3.0 means—or should mean.
A prime example comes from venture capitalist Chris Dixon, who recently posted an influential Twitter thread titled “Why Web3 Matters.” Here, he refers to the concept as “the internet owned by the builders and users… ownership and control is decentralized.” Unfortunately, while this all sounds like a promising antidote to the near-monopolistic reach of Google, Facebook, and Amazon, it lacks concrete meaning.
Dixon further posits that Web 3.0 will be built around blockchain, the ultra-secure technology behind cryptocurrency. To be sure, many other experts agree blockchain technology will be fundamental to the shape of cybersecurity, record keeping, and online banking moving forward. However, Dixon then defines blockchain as “special computers that anyone can access but no one owns,” which does not really fit any widely accepted definition of what blockchain truly is. Instead, most people see a blockchain as more akin to an alternative to a database, one which stores within itself an incorruptible record of every transaction in its history.
The blockchain discrepancy just goes to show that Web3 can mean something completely different depending on who you ask, as well as their goals and priorities.
Web 3.0 “The Next Generation”.
In the broadest of terms, Web 3.0 refers to the “third-generation” of software, hardware, services, and systems that will make up the next iteration of the World Wide Web. Accordingly, the history of the Internet to date can be loosely defined by three generations and their most ubiquitous technologies. However, it is important to keep in mind that—in addition to lacking concrete or technical definitions—these eras are also impossible to define chronologically because of how they overlap and build on one another. For example, some Web 1 technologies like HTML are still very much in use as we enter the Web 3.0 era.
The following is a very general outline of the three web eras, their time periods, and their defining technologies:
- Web 1.0 (1990s and early 2000s)
- Static web pages
- Interactivity and communication occurred via e-mail, newsgroups, and message boards
- Accessed through PCs
- Web 2.0 (around 2005-2020)
- Majority of internet interactivity occurs via social media platforms
- Multimedia streaming and video calling begins
- Mobile devices and other non-PC access nodes are prominent
- Web 3.0
- Blockchain technology serves a significant role
- Artificial intelligence increases
- Automation becomes standard
- Ubiquitous computing (internet-enabled technology in everyday items)
Myths and Misunderstandings
So, which parts of the Web 3.0 conversation are all hype, and what’s the truth of what will happen with the advent of Web 3.0?
- Myth: Web 3.0 will be faster.While we certainly hope this is true (and 5G cellular networks promise a faster mobile computing experience soon), the strong link between blockchain technology and Web3 means this a much more nuanced issue than “newer equals faster.”
Ethereum—the blockchain technology upon which many other platforms and “DApps” (decentralized Web3 applications) are built—is, unfortunately, notoriously slow. In the decentralized Web 3.0 model, a transaction is processed by a third party “miner” who sets up computer hardware to passively accept and calculate decentralized blockchain transactions for a reward, usually in the form of cryptocurrency. The transaction is then propagated throughout the network. A decentralized transaction requires more back and forth communication between devices and thus more processing power than a transaction that takes place on a dedicated server.
- Myth: Web 3 means the return of net neutrality.All this talk of decentralization has some people excited about a possible return to a Web 1-style experience where independent content and applications are not buried by the whims of Google and Facebook algorithms. While this potential is a possibility, there are a substantial number of user experience problems with blockchain-based apps as they exist today. These may be significant enough to drive potential adopters of Web3 back to the comfortable user interfaces of Facebook and Google products.
Most Web 3.0 blockchain-based DApps are clunky for users on the front end and difficult to scale for developers on the back end. DApps are currently not a viable replacement for most of what the public does online. “Decentralization” also doesn’t mean that Google, Facebook, and Amazon will simply cease to matter in the internet world. Every major tech company is already looking into how they can leverage blockchain and other Web 3.0 technologies to expand their business models.
- Myth: Web 3.0 is more accessible.As it stands, widespread accessibility looks more like a hurdle to overcome than a feature to promote. Consider that today’s web browsers and social media platforms currently offer zero built-in support for Web 3.0 content. Developing Web3 DApps on the blockchain is also prohibitively expensive now. Those sorts of operating costs are typically passed down to the end user in some form or another, be it intrusive advertising or subscription models.
Prepare Your Business for the Future of the Internet.
While the buzz surrounding Web 3.0 remains little more than hype at present—that doesn’t mean it will remain that way. In fact, we believe that Web 3.0 technologies can produce a safer, faster, fairer, and more equitable internet experience. However, all involved will need to address the misconceptions and shortcomings listed above—and for small businesses and web tech experts, that means preparing for the future and identifying potential issues as Web 3.0 settles into place.
If you want to ready your online presence for Web 3.0, Imagine Monkey is here to help. The team at Imagine Monkey produces innovative websites that evolve along with your needs and the shape of the web. Contact us for a quote today.