Want to join the Web3 revolution? Set up your wallet, get some Bitcoin or Ether and welcome onboard. A little wallet tucked on the browser’s tool bar is bringing about the next great revolution in the world wide web, or loosely called, the internet. Not everyone is impressed though, and least of all, the founder of WWW itself, Tim Berners-Lee.
In 2014, the notion or concept behind Web 3 was coined by the co-founder of Ethereum, Gavin Wood soon after the launch of Ethereum. The main idea was to decentralize the web using blockchain and thus take power away from the hands of the trusted, centralized platforms like the popular social media channels. This was akin to the revolution of blockchain in removing banks and central institutions from financial transactions.
The Ethereum Foundation offers a simple explanation of the differences in the various “Webs” that have taken shape.
Web 1.0 – Only read. Browse information from static web pages. The early age of internet surfing with hyperlinks.
Web 2.0 – Read and write. The advance of social media and networking, where users create content that is then monetized by centralized platforms with their own rules and governance. Data ownership remains tied up with the specific platform.
Web3. Read, write, own. Users connect with platforms using their wallet-based digital identity. They write or create content on blockchain, purchase items or products directly with their wallet without banking intermediaries. Data can be taken away or moved to another platform. Add to this community voting based governance or DAO.
But Tim Berners-Lee has held a different conception of what the next stage in the web’s evolution should look like. His Web 3.0 (not Web3), is part of the Solid project parked at MIT. The main aim of this new web framework is “true data ownership as well as improved privacy.”
Since blockchain contents are there for all to see, it may not be the way forward to build an entire global web framework. As Tim said recently at the Web Summit conference in Lisbon, data storage should be “fast, cheap and private”. Others have mentioned data risk and fraud, that plague the crypto world today, as more flaws that can disrupt Web3.
At the summit, Tim described Web3 as not the web at all, and that it should be ignored. He described it as a randomly built entity taking shape on the internet, and that one should look beyond buzz words. The name Web3 itself has been taken over by the Ethereum Foundation, something he dislikes.
The vision behind Web3 is to build a web that is not dominated by mainstream players and big corporations, who then take over user generated data, including their personal identification information. By using blockchain, NFTs and crypto wallets, this structure can be broken and made flatter, with users in control of their data and identities, such as Ether domain names.
Tim wants the data control issue to be addressed as well, but not in the way blockchain can do it. He doesn’t consider it good for decentralizing the web as they can be slow and expensive and transparent to everyone. Tim’s startup that is spearheading the decentralized and user-owned web is called Inrupt.
The race for user data has been big and the ones on top are the ones who “own” or control the most data. Tim’s startup has its own way to rectify the race or playing field. Their solution includes three simple features: a global, singular sign-in for all services, login IDs for sharing data with others, and a global programming interface that allows data to be pulled from anywhere.
This looks like a one-global-ocean concept of data, rather than privately owned large lakes and ponds.
According to a CNBC report, several other leading figures in the world today entertain doubts about the concept of Web3, and this includes Jack Dorsey, ex-founder of Twitter, and Elon Musk, its new owner.
On the face of it, looking at the greed and chaos that envelops all things crypto, Web3 appears to be a smart way to get hold of users’ wallets, and not just their data and identities.
The real evolution of the web could be seen as the following:
Web 1: Anonymous users, chat rooms, a little money via payments
Web 2: User profiles, user data, money via adverts and subscriptions
Web 3: User profile, user’s data, user’s wallet
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