If you regularly follow tech news, and in particular that of cryptocurrencies, you have probably already heard of Web 3. Indeed, it is a term that is very regularly mentioned in articles or press releases. And although for the moment it is a rather vague notion, Web 3 could well be the next Internet revolution.
For you to understand, it is important to note that Web 3 is neither a standard nor a particular technology. It’s more of an idea. In essence, after Web 1, then Web 2 (or the famous Web 2.0), Web 3 could gradually transform the way we use the web in the coming years.
Web 1, Web 2, then Web 3?
In its early days, the web was only used to display static information. Universities published their research, the media published their articles, while vendors displayed their products. And we were passive users. It was Web 1.
Then Web 2 arrived. On this new “version” of the web, Internet users are no longer content to consult content, they also contribute. With just a few clicks, any user can publish text, photos or videos that will be accessible (almost) anywhere in the world.
The emergence of Web 2 and that of social networks are often associated. And if Web 2 has opened the way to new possibilities and new uses on the web, it has a big drawback: when we use, for example, social networks, we send data to the servers of digital giants. Another problem is that some platforms have become very (too) powerful.
Less data and power for internet giants
And the solution to this problem is Web 3. In essence, it is the idea of a decentralized web taking advantage of the blockchain that would allow data to no longer be centralized with the digital giants.
The term Web 3, for information, was born in 2014. According to an article in Wired magazine, it was Gavin Wood, one of the co-founders of the Ethereum blockchain, who used this term for the first time.
As mentioned above, Web 3 has no precise definition. However, to get an idea of what it is, we can still base ourselves on the vision of the “Web 3 Foundation”, of which Gavin Wood is also the founder.
According to its website, the mission of this foundation is “to develop state-of-the-art applications for decentralized web software protocols.” The vision of this foundation is a new internet on which users, and not digital companies, are the owners of their data. The foundation also imagines a web on which “global transactions” are secure (via cryptocurrencies?). And on Web 3, “online exchanges of information and value are decentralized”.
In essence, Web 3 would be an improved version of Web 2 over which the digital giants would have less data and less power.
So that you can better understand what web3 sites and applications could look like, we can discuss some of the web3 projects.
For example, among the projects of the Web 3 foundation, there is Polkadot. It is a blockchain, and a cryptocurrency, whose purpose is to provide interoperability between other blockchains. The foundation also supports the XCMP protocol, a decentralized messaging protocol which, in essence, would make it possible to exchange messages without centralizing data on services such as WhatsApp, iMessage or Telegram.
The race to develop the Web 3 social network has also begun. In an article published in July 2022, the TechCrunch site mentions many decentralized protocol projects, for social networks, which have already raised funds.
Among those protocols is Farcaster, according to its site, is an “open protocol that can support many clients, just like email.” Finally, we are not far from the idea of the creators of Mastodon, a social network similar to Twitter, but which allows you to host your data on your own servers.
Moreover, speaking of Twitter, under the direction of its founder Jack Dorsey, he supported the Bluesky project, a kind of decentralized version.
According to the Bluesky site, its “AT” protocol (comparable to email, RSS or XMPP chats) will serve as the foundation for social networks that will make creators independent of major platforms.
What makes the AT Protocol unique:
🔶 Account portability
🔶 Algorithmic choice
— bluesky (@bluesky) October 18, 2022
At the time of Jack Dorsey, the idea was that Twitter would later become a client compatible with this protocol. It remains to be seen whether this project will still be relevant during the Elon Musk era.