Daily Brief - Web 3.0: 2022 could be the year (Dec 27, 2021)

If you were late to Web 1.0, and Web 2.0 (or just too young), the prospect of Web 3.0 offers that alluring promise of another tectonic shift in the Internet landscape.

There is the cryptocurrency. The metaverse. And then there is Web 3.0.

You’ve surely heard the term. Web 3.0. The “3.0” suggests an improvement (and, what exactly was 2.0 anyway?) and, to investors, a host of opportunities.

Ok, I’ll bite - what is it?

Web 3.0 at the very core is about decentralisation. It is an idea for a new iteration of the World Wide Web that incorporates decentralization based on blockchains. This is in stark contrast to Web 2.0, where data and content are centralized in a small group of companies (the "Big Tech").

Not everyone believes it’s actually anything more than a marketing ploy, as Elon Musk put it in a recent interview

Short history of the Web

That name stems from Web 1.0 (actually, you can use Web1 interchangeably), the moniker for the original version of the internet that let you browse AOL pages. In essence, internet was readonly. If you grew up in the noughts, this was essentially the Stone Age of the internet.

Web2 evolved from Web1 and featured the growth of social media platforms like Facebook, services like Uber and Venmo, and well, that’s the internet today. It became read-and-write: users could change it.

Who moved my data?

Do you remember a time when you couldn’t change your phone provider without losing that cherished “917” area code in New York? Eventually, the rules were changed and now you can happily switch to any carrier that offers the best data package.

The phone number of today is your data. It lacks any portability. You can’t bring your information with you across devices. And if you purchase an app through one platform, it might not work on other platforms.

Web3 would allow sites and services to exist across decentralized computer networks and rely on blockchain technology to validate user data. The people who actually use sites and apps would then, ideally, own them.

In other words, you can read, write but also interact with your data. Participate in an online community enough, and you’d get a piece of it in the form of a digital token.

Big Tech companies won’t go away. They’re already investing in the new paradigm. But it’ll open up an interesting space for new companies to help users protect - or monetize - their data.

It’ll be a gradual transition (who actually remembers going from Web1 to Web2?) but potentially a massive one, nonetheless. Watch this space.