Written By Vincent Govaers
A clear definition on what Web 3.0 is, and is not, can be difficult to find. Metaverse, semantic web, blockchain, virtual reality, etc. When doing a quick search on the internet, you can easily lose yourself in a maze of buzzwords. Understanding how Web 3.0 will drive change and impact your business can therefore be a complex challenge. So,before we try to become Delphi’s Oracle and predict exactly what will happen, let’s begin with an attempt to clarify what Web 3.0 entails:
A bit of history...
The easiest way to start the gargantuan task of explaining Web 3.0, is to introduce you the different generations of web technologies. Web 3.0 is the next generation of internet after Web 2.0 and Web 1.0. In the 90s, Web 1.0 started a revolution by collecting tons of information and making it available to the broad public. People were amazed by the new technologies enabling real-time news and e-mails. It seemed like all the world’s information was accessible through their computer screens. However, Web 1.0 only allowed the majority of people to ‘read’ information. Interactions or own content creation was reserved for computer programmers. Around 2004, Web 2.0 introduced a shift in the way we use the internet. FAANG companies (Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix, Google) enabled users to ‘create or write’ own content and build social connections through the internet. Many users started money-making businesses and entire industries were replaced by web-based online business models. The FAANG companies themselves grew richer and richer by selling users’ data to advertising companies.
The rise of Web 3.0
Today, many companies are building the new generation of internet: Web 3.0. This is the first thing you should understand about Web 3.0: all companies working on this have their own vision on how the new internet will look like. That’s why we will share some similarities in their definitions, as well as some sidenotes to keep in mind:
Decentralization: One of the main ideas behind Web 3.0 is the decentralization of data. In the current set-up of the internet, information is stored centrally in data centers owned by companies. The next generation of internet claims that blockchain technologies will enable a decentralized data storage set-up where users become owner of their data. This means there is no central institution or company controlling all data like Google or Amazon do today in their data centers. Instead, information can be stored at the users’ side. Sidenote: Even though this ‘decentralization’ is one of Web 3.0 key ‘selling points’, the question remains open whether people will actually store information physically at their own homes. You will still need servers (in the Cloud). How ‘decentralization’ will look like exactly is an open discussion and probably needs a blogpost of its own.
Virtualization: Another important aspect of Web 3.0 is the creation of a virtual world that interacts seamlessly with ‘the real world’. This is what is sometimes called ‘the metaverse’ where all online behaviors will suddenly become 3D. Today, you are probably sitting on a chair, reading this article on your computer screen. In the future, our online interaction might look a bit different. Virtual and augmented reality might hit our day-to-day lives as we use them to shop and fit our clothes, play games with our friends, or give interactive webinars. Think about a webinar about space where you can float in a virtual ISS, test zero-gravity table tennis or fly to the moon. Sidenote: Virtual and augmented reality have some cool applications, but the way we interact with websites today will probably not disappear. Sometimes the old way can still be convenient. Reading an old-fashioned book without VR-glasses on your head is still a nice time-killer, right? The same will probably hold for certain online interactions.
De-connection: Based on the previous two characteristics, no connection has to be made between the user’s identity in real-life and their online alter-ego. Users can ‘own’ their data when being part of a virtual reality. Basically, you would be able to shop and fit clothes online without the clothing company being able to use all your data without compromise and link it back to the real you. Sidenote: This de-connection gives users bargaining power over their data. Companies will still be able to request personal information before you can shop for clothes or interact with them. However, they will have to incentivize users more as people will become more aware and protective of their own data. A popular system in Web 3.0 will probably be to reward users with ‘tokens’ each time they watch a video, give a like, or subscribe to a platform and this way give their data to the platform owner.
The intelligent web: The evolution from static webpages in Web 1.0 to more responsive webpages in Web 2.0 will continue. As AI and ML algorithms are becoming more common, webpages will be able to give even more personalized experience to their users. Sidenote: personal data will be key to successfully create customized experiences through AI and ML. This can become conflicting with the ability of users to manage and protect their own data in a better way as stated earlier. It remains an open question if users will be able to master their own data at all.
We hope that the complexity of Web 3.0 already looks less scary when digesting its aspects separately. In a next article, we will discuss the impact of Web 3.0 on businesses today and how this might evolve in the coming years.
If you need help on following up on the latest technological trends? Or if you want to test the robustness of your long-term digital strategies? Don’t hesitate to reach out to our digital transformation expert, Sven Van Hoorebeeck.