If you spend a lot of time researching how best to use your website (or are interested in the web in general) you may have heard the term Web 3.0 being thrown about. But what is Web 3.0 exactly, and what does it mean for you?
In the world of the internet and technology, language evolves quickly, and everyone is looking for the next big ‘thing’. The technology also evolves quickly, which can make it a full-time job keeping up with what’s what. The thing is, sometimes these terms don’t actually mean all that much, and become ‘buzzwords’ that are used gratuitously and aren’t all that productive. One such term is Artificial Intelligence (AI) – a term used a lot because it sounds cool, but often actually refers to Machine Learning (ML) projects over actual intelligence.
So what is Web 3.0?
In short, Web 3.0 is a potential trajectory for the internet, driven by the advent of technologies that will supposedly make the web more open, trustless and permissionless. There doesn’t seem to be an exact consensus on the definition, but it does seem to focus on the pace of technological development, in AI and the Internet of Things (IoT – smart connected devices).
We have to look at how the internet has changed over the years to frame this term. The very first web was basically a repository of information. The second age made the information more dynamic and participatory, especially with the growth of mobile devices.
Where Web 2.0 was driven by the advent of mobile, social and cloud, Web 3.0 is built largely on three new layers of technological innovation: edge computing, decentralised data networks and artificial intelligence.
Max Mersch and Richard Muirhead expand on this:
“Web 3.0 enables a future where distributed users and machines are able to interact with data, value and other counterparties via a substrate of peer-to-peer networks without the need for third parties. The result: a composable human-centric & privacy-preserving computing fabric for the next wave of the web.”
And what do these qualities mean?
- ‘Open’ in that they are built from open-source software built by an open and accessible community of developers and executed in full view of the world.
- ‘Trustless’ in that the network itself allows participants to interact publicly or privately without a trusted third party.
- ‘Permissionless’ in that anyone, both users and suppliers, can participate without authorisation from a governing body.
The other potential technology that could impact this view of the web is the blockchain, the peer-to-peer system which underpins cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, authenticating and decentralising information. A decentralized blockchain protocol will enable individuals to connect to an internet where they can own and be properly compensated for their time and data, eclipsing an exploitative and unjust web, where giant, centralized repositories are the only ones that own and profit from it. Theoretically, individuals would own and be able to control who profits from their time and information.
Our view is that for this view of Web 3.0 to become a reality, the bulk of the groundwork will have to be done by big tech companies. For this to happen, there has to be some kind of commercial incentive. The connected devices angle is simple – the more devices that are sold (and connected to networks using services and gathering data) the more money there is to be made. However, in terms of increasing individual sovereignty over data and privacy, this directly harms companies that profit from this like Facebook and Google – the very companies that would have to lay this groundwork. To decentralise the foundations of the web would relax the effective monopolies these companies hold. We hope we’re being cynical, but this seems less likely they would support such a move.
When trying to predict the future of technologies, we look to past ‘watershed’ events in their evolution. Developments that fundamentally altered the way in which people use technology and interact with information. The creation of the internet, the introduction of the smartphone and blockchain are the most recent. If they were easy to see though, things would be changing at an even faster rate. the only thing we can predict with any certainty is that current predictions will probably be way off.
Whatever Web 3.0 means for you, at Ethical Pixels we’re no strangers to jargon. We’re always happy to talk about new technologies with our clients and prospective customers.
Get in touch with us today to understand more about the latest developments in digital.