Web 3: From The Internet Of Information To The Internet Of Value
|— The internet is entering a totally different new phase, and it will profoundly impact the way we interact online. |
— Until now we’ve relied on large platforms to mediate business transactions and communication, which has hidden costs and curtails our control of our digital assets.
— Blockchain offers a solution to this problem by allowing data storage to be decentralised, thereby omitting the problems of using a middleman and giving us back control
— The priority for embracing this new technology is understanding how to manage your assets within the new system
Web 3 transforms the internet of information to the internet of value, it’s time we tell you how.
Ah there you are – back online again. And probably not for the first time today, right? Whether it’s moving money around, gaming or scoping out other singletons from our phone, a huge amount of our life now takes place online.
It’s been around 30 years since the internet first changed the world and, as with any new technology, it’s been slowly morphing over time to incorporate new possibilities. But some changes are so profound that they transform the whole story, and right now one of those transformations is unfolding. Are you prepared for Web 3.0?
Wait – there’s more than one internet?!
Let’s say there’s more than one chapter of the internet: the first was anchored by freedom of information, and the second by freedom of expression. We’ll come back to that. What’s important is that the implications of each new chapter have been huge.
The first generation of the web wasn’t actually called Web 1.0; we gave it that label retrospectively, as new versions came to pass. At its genesis in the 90’s, the internet was sometimes called the “Information Web” and that’s a pretty accurate description – it was developed to allow research to be shared among academics and governments, and it basically functioned as a library.
Content was created by a tiny hierarchy of publishers and webpages did not support changes, meaning no comment sections, communities or personal content. Although Web 1.0 didn’t allow us to collaborate or edit web content, it did somewhat democratise communication and access to information. Now anyone with an internet connection could not only access research materials for free, but also potentially make contact with anyone else via email.
But by far the most significant developments began in 2004. Facebook and YouTube revolutionised the web by supercharging the concept of user generated content, offering everyone with an internet connection the chance to be the star of their own personal publishing platform. The Social Web was born and it got magnified with ubiquitous mobile internet devices.
It’s hard now to remember a time before social media, but its impact simply cannot be overstated. As individuals, it allowed us to build a digital universe around ourselves, as communities sprung up around the content we were posting; incidentally, this was the first step in a gradual shift toward targeted web content, as increasingly we expected our online experience to be personalised and advertisers tailored their content accordingly.
So in summary, the latest iteration of the web has brought incredible possibilities, and a plethora of new expectations on our part, and those have been the driving force behind the internet as we now know it.
Great so why change a good thing?
Our current freedom of expression is not truly free. Where third party platforms have given us a loudspeaker, they have equally functioned as a shackle, because our reliance on them gives corporate entities unprecedented power over our society.
Have you ever stopped to consider how much personal information you reveal online? Social media is a goldmine of personal information; in fact your posts and likes are already being monetized for advertisers and even political entities. A recent example of this dynamic was the use of Facebook by Boston Analytics to influence the political landscape.
On a more day-to-day level, central platforms such as Uber, Paypal or Amazon take an inordinate profit share to act as the middleman in service transactions, leaving very little for the human beings providing those goods and services. Alternatively, we the consumer bear the cost of running the platform. Both of these cases show the inherent conflict of interest baked into our current internet structure.
And what about the way we manage our money? When you make a deposit, you place your trust in financial institutions to not only keep your details secure, but to manage and lend your cash responsibly. Think about that -that’s a huge amount of trust! Yet the 2008 crash provided a stark warning to all of us that even banks don’t always act in good faith.
OK but what’s the alternative?
Can you imagine acting as your own bank? Or being able to make online purchases directly from any vendor? This is where Web 3.0 comes in.
Where Web 2.0 has been defined by social interaction, the coming era will be all about digital ownership: no longer will you need to rely on middlemen to purchase goods and services, nor will you need the bank to act as a gatekeeper for your money.
Instead, you’ll be able to do all this yourself, from a personal blockchain address accessible only to you, within a network that supports direct transactions with any other user on that network.
The driving force behind this evolution is blockchain, networks that are run on a decentralised storage protocol, accessible to anyone with an internet connection. Mass adoption of this infrastructure has enormous implications for both society and for you as an individual.
What’s in it for me?
The potential offered by blockchain is unprecedented and will completely change how you interact online.
A swathe of new Dapps (decentralised apps) are already harnessing peer-to-peer capabilities to enable a new generation of goods and services. A company called Drife, for example, is defying the Uber paradigm by allowing drivers and passengers to connect directly, instead of through central servers. This removes the cost of the middleman, and the need to share any of your personal data.
What if you could earn money on your crypto savings by lending to a stranger? The Compound Dapp showcases the amazing potential of peer-to-peer transactions within Decentralised Finance. Say you have some extra cash, and want to act as a lender; here, you can deposit tokens into a liquidity pool governed by a smart contract. Borrowers then arrange loans from this pool, and you, the creditor, can track the loan, the repayments and the interest you earn over time. Oh – and you can do it all anonymously.
Maybe art is your thing? If so, your world is about to look pretty different: Non-Fungible Tokens (NFT’s), unique digital assets run on blockchain. Platforms such as Rarible, Opensea or Mintable allow artists and collectors to create, own and monetise assets in the digital ecosystem.
So, where do I start?
Web 3.0 may be the most exciting thing to happen within our generation. It will allow you exhilarating new levels of freedom over your finances, data, digital landscape and time. By enabling you to manage your digital assets from a secure venue on the blockchain, this new era wrestles control away from internet giants, and places it back in your hands.
Are you ready for this monumental change?The first step toward success is understanding not just its potential benefits, but also the new financial responsibilities it confers upon you, and how you can get the most out of your brand new ecosystem.