WHAT’S THE STORY?
Who Cares About….Web 3.0??
You might be like me. You will no doubt have read about Mark Zuckerberg’s vision for a metaverse by now, including his vision for ‘Web 3.0’ and wondered “what’s wrong with the trusty ol’ Web 2.0?” or “is there going to be a new version of the web anytime soon?”.
The answer is yes – and the biggest shake-up of the internet since its creation could be just around the corner!
What is Web 3.0?
Web 3.0, or ‘Web3’, is the name for a potential new version of the internet which is decentralised and built on public blockchains – the innovative technology that makes cryptocurrency transactions possible.
Unlike the current ‘Web 2.0’, users will not need to access the internet through services provided by tech giants such as Alphabet or Meta, but rather, the users themselves can own and control their online experience. In theory, this promises enhanced security, privacy and greater power to the user.
WHY IS WEB 3.0 IMPORTANT?
The last time the internet evolved, from ‘Web 1.0’ to ‘Web 2.0’, there were huge commercial ramifications. Web 2.0 focused on interactive websites, which relied on users sharing information, interacting and collaborating online. This allowed companies such as Amazon, Facebook and Google to harvest, exploit and sell vast amounts of customer data under the guise of being ‘consumer-centric’.
In contrast, Web3 shifts this power and control back to users, who would be directly rewarded for sharing their information, viewing adverts, or consuming content – as and when they please. In other words, just “two more minutes” of late-night scrolling could become “just two more pounds” of late-night earning through selling their browsing habits.
Yet, the pandemic has arguably accelerated the need for Web3’s most effective use, a metaverse where users can work, socialise and play in virtual reality. Decentraland and Axie Infinity are two companies that have gained a modest 50,000 users through creating basic virtual worlds running Web3. These worlds allow
users to create and trade digital assets such as land, clothing or artwork, or even proudly display any NFTs that they own. Whilst the number of current users isn’t exactly jaw-dropping, Bloomberg recently reported that the market for a larger Metaverse, likely to be running Web3, may reach £600 billion in value in the next three years. Indeed, tech-savvy creators such as Bored Ape, a self-described “Web3 streetwear brand”, previously sold an NFT for whopping $3.4 million!
Unsurprisingly, companies and venture capital firms are trying to ride the Web3 wave. Microsoft, Meta, and even Bumble are exploring integrating Web3 and a metaverse into their platforms. Yet, a metaverse using Web3 technology would run on a network of computers worldwide, rather than being controlled by a handful of technology companies. This would ensure a user-empowered ecosystem where the masses control its direction and policies. Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg himself stated he hopes the metaverse won’t be created by one company, so that it may be less constrained by today’s platforms and regulations. Although, given how hard Facebook/Meta have fought to maintain internet dominance so far, it’s hard to imagine Meta as anything other than a powerful institution that will define what a Metaverse and Web3 mean for society.
The whole concept of the metaverse – and anything related to it – is going through a rough patch currently and even Mark Zuckerberg is now mentioning AI more than he is the metaverse! As things stand, Web3 has been superseded in the public imagination by the rapid growth of AI, but it seems likely that once the dust settles, Web3 is something that will come to the fore once more as the great enabler of new technologies and our springboard into the future.
Written by Andrew Spencer, a future trainee solicitor with a particular interest in tech and life sciences. Andrew is an avid Rugby League fan who is happy to explain why it’s the greatest sport on the planet (without any success so far)…