ITEM: Everyone’s talking about Web3, but no one really knows what it is yet – which is why everyone is talking about Web3. But perhaps the most helpful description comes from Recode’s Peter Kafka: Web 3 is essentially a rebranding of blockchain as something you can use for things besides cryptocurrencies.
As Kafka writes in this post, Web3 is many things to many people: a game-changer that will pry the internet out of the hands of Big Tech monopolies and decentralize the internet the way it was always supposed to be; another tech bubble that will make money for some and fleece everyone else; or possibly a complete scam. But when you look at where the current interest is, Web3 is – at least theoretically – rooted in blockchain as a basic building block for the next generation of the web.
For example, we’re already seeing people use blockchain for things like selling digital real estate in the metaverse; “play to earn” video games like Axie Infinity where you can acquire digital goods to sell to other gamers for real money; and of course NFTs of digital artwork. We laugh at NFTs, but look past the pictures of bored apes and what you have is an automated contract that could be applied to any digital good, Kafka writes:
That could, in theory, create new ways to fund and profit from all kinds of new projects, and it might make more sense than traditional models.
The same tech could theoretically be used to challenge the Big Tech oligarchy in a number of ways – from enabling people to build startups that can compete with Big Tech without being crushed by it, to creating DAOs (decentralized autonomous organizations):
DAOs … are essentially internet collectives, where automated blockchain tech is supposed to make it easy to divvy up ownership and decision-making power among members. You can get into a DAO by buying into it, or you can get equity based on work you’ve done for the group, or whatever.
This idea that Web3 is somehow our chance to take the internet back from Big Tech is essentially what gets Silicon Valley excited about it, Kafka writes. And that’s perhaps not surprising, given the fact that Big Tech is hoping to be the primary architects of the metaverse, whatever that turns out to be.
On the other hand, we’ve heard this kind of utopian web talk before – particularly from blockchain enthusiasts, but it also dates all the way back to the original dotcom bubble.
The Web3 vision raises a lot of issues that no one currently has the answer to – blockchain is currently neither user-friendly nor eco-friendly, and there are no consumer protections at all. The biggest problem is that it’s all still theoretical. Whatever Web3 is to become, it will evolve organically under the direction of whatever market forces are in play, not to mention sociopolitical forces.
That doesn’t mean Web3 is a pipe dream, Kafka writes – but if the dotcom bubble and Web 2.0 are any indication, a lot of people are going to get burned on the way there, and it may not just be the Big Tech companies who feel the sting.
Full article here.