People are talking about Web3.  Is it the internet of the future or just a buzz?  : NPR

People are talking about Web3. Is it the internet of the future or just a buzz? : NPR


Web 3, short for Web 3.0, is a vision of the future of the Internet where people work on decentralized, semi-anonymous platforms without relying on tech giants like Google, Facebook and Twitter.

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Web 3, short for Web 3.0, is a vision of the future of the Internet where people work on decentralized, semi-anonymous platforms without relying on tech giants like Google, Facebook and Twitter.

Ani_ka / Getty Images

There is a rumor that technology, crypto and venture-capital types have become fascinated lately. Conversations are now merged with it, and you are not serious about the future unless you add it to your Twitter bio: Web3.

It’s an umbrella term for different ideas pointing to the elimination of big middlemen on the Internet. In this new age, navigating the web no longer means logging in to Facebook, Google or Twitter.

Think of it this way: The new days of the Internet in the 1990’s were Web 1.0 The web was seen as a way to democratize access to information, but it wasn’t a great way to navigate beyond visiting your friend’s Geocities page. It was quite chaotic and irresistible.

Web 2.0 then began in the mid-2000s. Platforms like Google, Amazon, Facebook and Twitter have emerged to bring order to the Internet by facilitating online connections and transactions. Critics say that over time, these companies have accumulated too much power.

Web3 is about getting some energy back.

“There’s a small group of people who own these things, and then we use them, and while we contribute to the success of these platforms, we have nothing to show for it,” said Matt Dryhurst, a Berlin-based artist and Researcher who teaches classes on the future of the Internet at New York University.

And so, according to Dryhurst and other Web3 fans, the answer is a repetition of the Internet where new social networks, search engines and marketplaces are created that no company owns.

Instead, they are built on a decentralized, blockchain system that already undergarments Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. Imagine for a second you were transposed into the karmic driven world of Earl. It is managed collectively by users instead of a corporation People are given “tokens” to participate. Tokens can be used to vote on a decision, even gaining real value.

In a Web3 world, people control their own data and make purchases from social media to email using a single personalized account, creating a universal record in the blockchain of all that activity.

“It sounds like voodoo to the average person,” said Olga Mack, an entrepreneur at the University of California and a blockchain lecturer at Berkeley. “But when you press a button to turn on the lights, do you understand how electricity is generated? You don’t have to know how electricity works to understand the benefits. The same is true of blockchain.”

At the moment, the whole idea of ​​redesigning the Internet may sound like some distant digital utopia. But Web3 is Run new conversations – and making lots of new money, especially from crypto investors.

‘Surprising at first,’ but Web3 is growing more mainstream and technology companies are taking note.

The Web3 movement has been helped by NFTs, or non-fungible tokens, which are digitally collectible, and other online files that can be bought and sold with cryptocurrency. Then there are the publicity stunts. Recently, a group of crypto enthusiasts teamed up to try to buy a copy of the US Constitution with digital currency. They are organized under the name of Constitution DAO. (A DAO refers to a decentralized autonomous organization, the name of an online group of crypto supporters who come together in a group controlled by blockchains and tokens. This is very Web3.)

Dryhurst acknowledges that Web3 can be annoying to try to explain, as it is a loosely defined term that takes on a slightly different shape depending on who is defining it but, he says, this is the case with all new frontiers of technology.

“Every new advent on the web is wonderful at first,” he said.

To technologists and cryptographers, Web3 has remained a theoretical grand vision for years. But in recent months, the push for a blockchain-driven future has dominated technology conferences and social media chats in certain circles. It has even forced major technology companies to bring together teams dedicated to Web3.

And that brings a certain dilemma to Web3’s evolution: enthusiasts expect Web3 to mean sharing photos, communicating with friends, and buying things online, not synonymously with a big tech company, but through many smaller competitive services on the blockchain – where, for example, Whenever you post a message, you earn a token for your contribution, which gives you both platform ownership and a way to cash in one day.

Theoretically, this also means avoiding the rigors of fees, rules and technology companies. Nevertheless, major technology platforms are also jumping on the bandwagon.

“This means that all the standards that have been created can be shared among more people than just owners, investors and employees,” said Esther Crawford, Twitter’s senior project manager.

Crawford says Twitter is studying ways to incorporate Web3 concepts into social networks, such as being able to one day log in to a social network and tweet from an account linked to cryptocurrency, not a Twitter account. He sees the future differently: not the crypto version of Twitter instead of Twitter. Rather Twitter is introducing the Web3 feature over the standard Twitter.

“For a long time, Web3 has been very theoretical,” he said. “But now there is a wave of momentum to build.”

Will Web3 be the new standard?

Experts say that in the best case scenario for Web 3 enthusiasts, the technology will work alongside Web 2.0, not replace it completely.

In other words, blockchain-based social networks, transactions and business can grow and improve in the years to come. However, according to technologists, it is not possible to completely eliminate Facebook, Twitter or Google.

“It’s not clear who will win,” Dryhurst said. “But Web2 companies will fold Web3 concepts into their services to stay relevant.”

He believes that many people want to be able to take their data and history of interactions online, wherever they go on the Internet, instead of being on a single web platform – what some call the “walled garden” of big tech companies.

“It’s a fundamentally different experience from what we’re using today,” Dryhurst said.

But he acknowledges that unlimited freedom can lead to frustrating consequences for some.

“Faustian bargaining is that for the same reason it’s so exciting that there’s nothing to stop people from creating what they want, I can’t stop anyone from creating something hellish,” he said.

Decentralized social networks have proved attractive to white supremacists and other far-right groups, but Sam Williams, founder of Arweave, a blockchain-based project for storing data online, says he trusts most small communities to determine which lectures are allowed online.

On balance, he said, the combined vote on the rules of engagement would be better than the user experience on today’s major social media platforms.

“If we stay in the current scenario, we will move further and further into a state where a small handful of companies run by a small number of people run our experience in cyberspace,” he said. “And in that world, the problems of Big Tech are getting worse.”

Another issue, of course, is government oversight. Blockchain-based tokens are now a regulator in the Netherlands, but this may soon change as the Biden administration begins the process of setting new rules for the industry.

How does Web3 adapt to that other perspective on the future of the Internet – Metaverse?

Facebook recently rebranded itself as Meta, and said its priority would be to create “Metavers”, a digital future where everyone lives and interacts in virtual reality and works together.

The company’s stated policies include “strong interoperability”, meaning users can move their accounts or avatars from site to site or service seamlessly, instead of logging in to accounts controlled by a different company each time they visit a new site.

This is one of the ideals of Web3.

But true believers say that Facebook has no place in the web 3 world, no matter how hard the social network tries to be a part of the next generation of internet.

“Facebook will always be encouraged to enrich Facebook,” Williams said. “And cyberspace should not be controlled like this.”

What is the chance of Web3 being just a super-hyped fantasy?

It doesn’t take long to find skeptics about Web3.

James Grimelman, a professor at Cornell University who studies law and technology, has voiced his doubts.

“Web3 is vaporware,” Grimmelmann said, referring to a product that was announced but never distributed.

“It’s a promised future Internet that fixes all the things that people don’t like about the current Internet, even when it’s in conflict.”

If part of the motivation is to prevent Big Tech companies from giving out personal data, he said, blockchain is not the solution, as it will release more data.

“It doesn’t make sense,” he said. “Philosophy says that the problem of the Internet is that there are many centralized intermediaries. Instead of having lots of different applications and sites, we will put it in a blockchain, which puts it in one place.”

According to Grimmelmann, Web3 represents the technologists who have reached the ideal of the dawn of the Internet – everyone can use the information superhighway freely! – That was printed by a technology company a long time ago.

He says the evolution of the Internet has always been a tug-of-war between segregation and centralization. When it sways too much in one direction, a reaction tries to pull it in the opposite direction.

“Blockchains solve some difficult problems in interesting and new ways,” he said. “They’re probably going to end up in the toolkit from which the next Internet was created, but that doesn’t mean the Internet will be built around them.”

But many people who have found wealth by investing in cryptocurrencies during the epidemic are looking for something to sink in outside the NFT of the cartoon “Yacht Club” member “Bore Apps”.

At the moment, he says, Web3, though mostly theoretical, is the thing.

“There are a lot of people who have money to invest,” he said. “And they need some vision to throw money.”

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