POWER TO THE PEOPLE
Web 3.0, also known as the “new internet”, is the latest generation of internet applications and services that are powered by decentralized blockchain technology. Not surprising, this term was coined by Ethereum co-founder Gavin Wood back in 2014. Web 3.0 was a hot topic at the Singapore Fintech Festival 2021. It represents an egalitarian version of the internet in which users can access information, collaborate and interact intelligently with one another. Data ownership and privacy will reign supreme on an open-sourced and transparent internet that avoids hacks and leaks.
JOURNEY OF THE WORLD WIDE WEB
It may be useful to understand where we came from and the evolution of the internet. Web 1.0, or what we call the Static Web, was the era from 1990 to 2000. Remember those days of blogspot.com? Data and information was presented predominantly in a “read-only” fashion, and users have minimal interaction with the content, save for leaving comments on posts. That said, this was the start of the “democratization of information access1”.
A decade later, we have arrived at Web 2.0 – a.k.a the internet today – where data is centralized and personalized. According to a report by Goldman Sachs, it is characterised by user-generated content, usability and interoperability for end users2. While there exists a plethora of social media channels and sites that encourage participation and interactivity, they are facilitated and dominated by large technology platforms, which are ultimately profiting from advertising and data mining.
Enters Web 3.0 – where “decentralization” and “intelligent information” is the name of the game. This generation will be driven by the gig economy of creators – where they can be more connected to their users and fans, and monetize their content, services and products.
The chart below neatly summarizes the key characteristics of this internet evolution2:
Figure 1: Evolution of Decentralized Web
Source: Company Data, Data Compiled by Goldman Sachs Global Investment Research
On the right, is yet another useful chart from Medium written by Fabric Ventures regarding the evolution of the web3 – in the form of applications development, to help put things into perspective.
Figure 2: The Evolution of the Web
*Internet companies market cap as of 2000
1Source: Aquarela, 23 March 2015
2Source: Goldman Sachs, 10 December 2021
3Source: Medium, 1 Jan 2022
In essence, we can sum up the key benefits of Web 3.0 as follows4:
- Anti-monopoly and pro-privacy
- Secure network
- Data ownership
- No interruption in service
- Permissionless blockchains
- Semantic Web
HERE COMES THE METAVERSE
This brings me to my earlier article: Metaverse – Dawn of a new Era. Indeed, the Metaverse is closely associated with the development of Web 3.0. To refresh, loosely defined, the Metaverse is an online digital world that incorporates virtual reality, augmented reality, 3D holographic avatars, cryptocurrencies and the likes that allows users to interact and coexist virtually. Basically, both of your physical and online worlds will bleed into one – indistinguishably. It is akin to the real-life version of “The Sims”! Companies all across industries – from gaming, to fashion and automotive – have all announced their intention to develop “Metaverse” services, experiences and hardware for their consumers. One of the examples closest to heart in our everyday life is Apple’s voice-controlled AI assistant, Siri. Similar applications include Amazon’s Alexa and Samsung’s Bixby. In other arenas, we see high profile names like Gucci and BMW jumping on the bandwagon as well.
Source: Redshark news, 6 August 2021
Gucci Garden Archetypes – Diorama in Bloom (Left). Gucci Garden Virtual Exhibition in Roblox (Right).
Source: Roblox, 17 May 2021
… AND THE BANE
With great power comes great responsibility. 5 of the biggest challenges of Web 3.0 as summarized below5:
- “Vastness’ of the internet and the amounts of data it stores
- Vague and unspecific user queries are not specific
- Uncertain values that require probabilistic reasoning
- Inconsistent data that can lead to logical contradiction
- Intentional wrong and misleading data
While it is still early days and Web 3.0 is still in its nascent stage, there lies tremendous potential to transform what we know of as the Internet today. With that said, there are always detractors and critics in every new space – Elon Musk had previously tweeted “Has anyone seen web3? I can’t find it.” He believed the concept to be more of a “marketing buzzword” than a reality6. In all fairness, it took more than 10 years for the transition from Web 1.0 to 2.0 to happen, and it may well take longer for web 3.0 to fully materialize and for widespread adoption to take place. As the saying goes, “never say never” – and it seems that we may well be indeed sitting on the cusp of an internet revolution.
4Source: 101 Blockchains, 29 July 2018
5Source: Medium, 18 January 2020
6Source: CNBC, 20 December 2021
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