What is Web3?

At its most basic level, Web3 is the proposal of integrating blockchains with the internet as we know it. The purpose of Web3 is to utilise the nature of decentralisation to take power away from giant corporations (i.e. Facebook) and return it to individual users.

In this article, we will be going over how Web3 differs from its predecessors, along with the advantages and disadvantages that Web3’s implementation will entail.

Web3’s predecessors

Web3, also referred to as Web 3.0, represents the next phase of the internet – one that is decentralised, open, and of greater utility. As the name suggests, it’s regarded as the third version of the internet. 

Web1 was the internet of the ‘90s and early 2000s. It introduced the three fundamental technologies that would become fundamentals of the online web as we know it: HTML, URI/URL, and HTTP. 

Web2 is the internet that we use today. Thanks to factors like mobile internet access, and the near-ubiquity of powerful mobile devices like iPhones, Web2 has accelerated the advent of a socially connected world far quicker than anyone thought possible. It has driven an unparalleled explosion of user-generated content over the past decade. This in turn has spurred a vast interconnected web of services used by billions daily: be it streaming (Twitch, YouTube), utility (AirBnB, Uber) or just social connectivity (Facebook). 

These benefits are no doubt immense, but at the same time, they come at a cost. Everything is now controlled by large corporations and proprietary algorithms that have practically become centralising monopolies (such as Facebook, Google and Amazon). This is where Web3 comes in; it aims to remove these giant, centralised repositories from the equation while maintaining all the benefits – and more – that people have grown accustomed to.

“It means that all the value that’s created can be shared amongst more people, rather than just the owners, investors and employees,” said Esther Crawford, a senior project manager at Twitter.

What would Web3 accomplish?

The benefits of Web3 are numerous and would change the digital world as we know it.

Currently, whenever we search for something on the web, we utilise HTTP in the form of unique web addresses to find and load information. These addresses are essentially fixed locations on a single server. Web3 on the other hand will allow information to be found based on its content instead, rather than a fixed location/server – hence a decentralised nature. This would render the massive databases currently held by internet giants like Facebook and Google utterly redundant.

Page-loading times will also be reduced to zero, along with end-to-end security and trustless interaction for all users. Web designers will be given additional functionality to utilise differing front-end solutions to deliver a superior user experience thanks to the separation of APIs from the front end and back ends.

Web3 will also benefit the pursuit of AI improvement and machine learning, which will enable computers to produce faster and more effective results in a wide array of areas, from drug development, mining extraction, manufacturing and more – rather than just targeting advertising as is the case currently.

Criticisms and doubts about Web3

Like any crypto-related topic, Web3 wouldn’t be complete without a healthy dose of scepticism. Internet companies like Discord and Reddit have explored integrating Web3 technologies onto their respective platforms – but quickly back pedalled after outrage from their users. 

While the backlash was most likely a result of distaste at crypto in general, there are valid concerns to be raised about Web3. The main one is in regards to the very trademark of Web3: it’s decentralised nature. Cybercrime, hate speech and misinformation are among many of the issues that will be exacerbated by a decentralised structure. They are already difficult enough to properly police as is after all. Another issue is in regards to international regulation, as it’ll be a whole ordeal determining which nation’s laws should take precedence on a website that may be hosted in multiple countries. 

Given Web3’s undeniable benefits, the question shouldn’t be about if implementing Web3 is a good idea, but rather, how to do so in a way that takes into account its risks and downsides.

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