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  • Writer's pictureAnca Petre

What is Web3? (in simple words)

Web 3 is part of these buzzwords we hear everywhere like NFTs, metaverse, crypto or blockchain. But there aren’t a lot of resources that explain what this term actually means. Often you will simply hear that Web3 is the logical evolution of the Internet, that it is a decentralized online ecosystem or that it relies on blockchain technology. Not very clear.. So you are probably left wondering what exactly is Web3, what impact can it have on your activity and how is it different from Web1 and Web2.





Web3 is a decentralized version of the current Web


Let’s start from the beginning. The term "Web3" was coined by Ethereum co-founder Gavin Wood in 2014, referring to a "decentralized online ecosystem based on blockchain. » To some, it is a disruption, a new revolution in the way we will use the Internet. To others, it is just an overhyped concept. So which is it ?


Some of the hype around Web3 is linked to its association with blockchain, cryptocurrencies and NFTs. This environment is still in its very early days and like any potentially disruptive innovation, it has its enthusiasts and its skeptics. But behind the hype, Web3 refers to a very concrete and new way of experiencing the Internet. But in order to understand it, we must first look at its predecessors : Web 1 and 2.

Web3 is an evolution of Web1 and Web2


Web1 is the static web

Web1, as you can probably guess, refers to the first version of the World Wide Web. The Web is one of the first applications developed on the Internet. It was created in the 90’s by Sir Tim Berners-Lee, a British computer scientist. In March 1989, Tim laid out his vision for what would become the web in a document called “Information Management: A Proposal”. Believe it or not, Tim’s initial proposal was not immediately accepted. In fact, his boss at the time noted the words “Vague but exciting” on the cover. (page 2) But by October of 1990, Tim had written the three fundamental technologies that remain the foundation of today’s web : HTML (which is the language for the web), the URL which we commonly know as the link to a resource on the Web and HTTP which is a protocol that allows us to access a resource on the Web. Web1 websites were mostly static and only allowed you to search and read information. There was very little interactivity : no content creation, no ads, no data analytics, etc.


Nevertheless, it gained such great traction that it lead to the bursting of the dot-com bubble in the fall of 2001 - a turning point in the history of the web. Back then, as it is also the case now, make people jumped to the conclusion that the web was overhyped. But over 20 years later, we have learnt that bubbles seem to be a feature of technological revolutions that their burst doesn’t mean the technology is dead or useless. Usually, technologies evolves in this period of time and new versions or alterations emerge.

web2 is the social web

This is how Web2, also called the social web emerged. One of its main features is that it is interactive meaning that users can also contribute to the Internet and are not simple consumers anymore. The Web2 is a set of common principles and features that tie together a group of sites. For instance, Web2 sites are native web applications instead of software, the business model is focused on services rather than licensing and platforms are participative.


These are the building blocks of applications such as search engines, with Yahoo and Google, social media, with Facebook, Instagram or TikTok or the sharing economy with Uber or Airbnb. Web2 is the web we know and use today.


One of the downfalls of Web2 is the concentration of value in the hands of these tech giants. They centralize the flows of data and money and have become very powerful middleman. It is therefore not surprising that the next evolution of the web is oriented towards more decentralized and supposedly democratized ecosystems.

WEB3 IS THE DECENTRALIZED WEB

So, here we are. We have reached Web3. There is not one definition of what Web3 is but rather a set of convergent ideas of the natural evolution of the web we know today. The vision is to have a system in which you can do pretty much everything you do today but without having to go through these tech giants.


To implement this vision, several tools are at our disposal such as blockchain, cryptocurrencies or NFTs.


Without going into details, what they have in common is that they work on a peer-to-peer basis and are not depended on middlemen to function such as big tech or financial corporations. One goal is for each and every user to have created control over their own data, to be able to benefit from the value generated by the web and to have more transparent and trustworthy interactions with their peers.

Now, I know that this description can sound both very utopian and still not very concrete. But that is normal. The Web3 is still under construction and the vision can seem quite confusing for newcomers. But not to worry, using the web in the early 90s wasn’t easy either and it took the emergence of user-friendly and useful applications for people to jump on board. So patience, as we will see new Web3 platform develop and become popular, it will become a lot easier to understand what it is. As always, usage drives adoption and understanding.

I hope today’s video helped you understand the main ideas behind the Web3 and why there is so much excitement around it. Thank you so much for watching and I’ll see you next time.

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