Dismissed by some as a simple marketing concept, considered to be the future of the web by others, Web 3 is the subject of many tech boardrooms and corner bar debates. This concept can be defined more as a work-in-progress than a clearly agreed upon definition. So what is Web 3 all about? Will it change our relationship to all that is digital and more generally revolutionize the future of the Internet?
Easy as 1, 2, 3
Also called Web3 or Web 3.0, Web 3 is the third generation of the Internet. This concept was first used in 2014 by Gavin Wood, an English computer scientist, also known as the co-founder of Ethereum, the community technology powering cryptocurrency, ether (ETH) and thousands of decentralized applications, but it became really popular with the recent boom of cryptocurrencies and non-fungible tokens (NFT). But what is Web 3 exactly?
Unlike Web 1.0 or traditional web, which was a simple information portal, or Web 2.0, also called the user-generated web, which saw the appearance of centralized platforms and social networks, Web 3 is a decentralized web. It is often based on peer-to-peer (P2P) technologies such as virtual reality, the Internet of Things (IoT) and blockchain, which allows its networked users to share data without an intermediary, in a decentralized, secure and transparent way.
Web 3, sometimes called the semantic web, is opposed to Web 1.0, also known as static web which links web pages together using hyperlinks, and Web 2.0, which allows users to interact and create content. Web 2.0 is often criticized for lack of privacy, as its model particularly favors the control of personal data and user content by Google (Alphabet), Apple, Facebook (Meta), Amazon and Microsoft, commonly known as GAFAM or Big Five. Web 3 therefore promotes a paradigm shift from a centralized Internet to a decentralized digital world.
Web 3: Advantages, and Disadvantages
Thanks to a better understanding of data by machines, Web 3 makes it possible to develop open, connected and intelligent websites and web applications. The main advantage of Web 3 is its decentralization, allowing end-users to regain the complete ownership and control of the value they create.
For its detractors, Web 3 is only a trendy marketing and utopian concept, intended mainly for the niche market of crypto-currencies which use blockchain technology. Web 3 is also highlighted by its opponents because it’s being used to promote the vulnerability of integrated data and the risk of decentralized finance.
For Web 3 advocates, this new approach eliminates the need for large intermediary tech companies and allows users to regain the complete ownership and control of their data. Thanks to the use of artificial intelligence, a larger volume of data can be processed with a greater collaboration between humans and machines. According to its supporters, Web 3 could foreseeably bypass the geopolitical data boundaries and censorship, thus allowing users to remain anonymous during data exchanges, and ensure better security in the event of an attack.
How could Web 3 impact Businesses
Despite criticism, Web 3 paves the way for many new possibilities of doing business and creating value for its users.
The success of DAOs (Decentralized Autonomous Organizations or decentralized autonomous organizations in French), self-managed communities, whose rules of governance are automated and registered immutably and transparently in a blockchain, the explosion of NFTs, which has led some platforms like Youtube to turn to blockchain technology to create a new source of income, as well as the growing interest in the development of metaverses are proof of this.
A true technological transformation, Web 3 transforms the distribution of value, content and knowledge. Announced as the future new era of the Internet, Web 3 also tends towards a revolution in socio-economic uses, and a redistribution of the power of digital uses. A trend to be observed with caution in the face of possible distortions, misinterpretations, and attacks.