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The web is an unfinished project. In this article, we will look at what is, potentially, the next major iteration of the Internet; one in which users take back control from the centralized corporations that currently dominate the web.
The main reason that so many people are working hard to redesign the current Internet is because the majority of today’s most-used Internet platforms are controlled by only a handful of powerful companies, which profit from the data users generate.
Web 3 is essentially a new way for individuals to use the Internet without giving up their privacy and valuable data.
To understand what Web 3 is, we first have to understand the previous versions of the Internet.
The first phase of the Internet and can be characterized by the way users initially interacted with the web. Most users, during the first iteration of the web, were passive consumers of content. In other words, Web 1.0 was about reading and not writing. It was static instead of dynamic. This changed with Web 2.0.
The next major phase of the Internet was all about interactivity and users.
In this phase, users created most of the content on platforms such as YouTube, Facebook, or Twitter. This Internet was more social and collaborative, but that usually came at a price. The downside of this more participatory Internet was that by creating content, users were also providing personal information and data to the companies that controlled these platforms.
Web 3 is the next step of the Internet. It is currently still being built, so there is no single, established definition yet of what Web 3 is or will be.
In general, however, Web 3 refers to an Internet that is made possible by decentralized networks, such as Bitcoin and Ethereum. The key innovation of these networks is the creation of platforms that no single entity controls, yet everyone can still trust. That’s because every user and operator of these networks must follow the same set of hard-coded rules, known as consensus protocols.
The secondary innovation is that these networks allow value or money to be transferred between accounts. These two things—decentralization and Internet money—are the keys to understanding Web 3.
Like the previous versions of the web, there was no single creator of Web 3. Instead, it has grown as a collaboration of different individuals and organizations building on top of each other. In general, those involved in blockchain smart-contract platforms, such as Ethereum, EOS, and TRON, are recognized as leading the way for Web 3.
The main advantage of Web 3 is that it attempts to address the biggest problem that has resulted from Web 2: the collection of personal data by private networks which are then sold to advertisers or potentially even stolen by hackers.
With Web 3, the network is decentralized, so no one entity controls it, and the decentralized applications (dapps) that are built on top of the network are open. The openness of the decentralized web means that no single party can control data or limit access. Anyone is able to build and connect with different dapps without permission from a central company.
On Web 3, money is native. Instead of having to rely on the traditional financial networks that are tied to governments and restricted by borders, money on Web 3 is instant, global, and permissionless. It also means tokens and cryptocurrencies can be used to design completely new business models and economies, a field increasingly becoming known as tokenomics.
For example, advertising on the decentralized web would not need to rely on selling users’ data to advertisers, but could instead reward users with a token for viewing ads. This type of Web 3 application is being developed with the Brave Browser and their Basic Attention Token (BAT).
There are many Web 3 dapps that are currently available. One of the most popular and promising products involves decentralized finance (or DeFi) tools through which users can lend and borrow, tokenize real-world assets, make predictions, invest, and trade crypto assets. Playing games, gambling, and making predictions are also popular ways to use Web 3.
The future of the web is about increasing usage, usability, and scalability. For the vision of Web 3 to become reality, a lot more people are going to have to start using Web 3 dapps. This not only means more dapps, but also dapps that are easier to use and more appealing to non-technical users.
Finally, with Ethereum, the largest and most-popular smart-contract platform, regularly at near full capacity, Web 3 networks will need to scale up and be able to quickly handle millions of transactions if they ever want to compete with their Web 2 counterparts.
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