Ever since the evolution of modern man, technology has been an integral part of our lives. We have found ways to reach the moon (literally), interact with our peers whilst being miles away and automate enormous aspects of our lives. What if I say web3 is no less of an innovation? The Internet itself has changed our lives for good, in a massive way. And web 3.0? Well, let us just call it the biggest upgrade of the internet since Facebook happened. The term ‘web 3.0’ itself is doing the rounds across the internet these days.
And if that bothers you, you have come to the right place. Today is going to be all about web 3.0. Let’s get started.
Evolution of Internet: Web 1.0 and Web 2.0
Web 3.0 is the third iteration of the mighty internet. It is believed to change the way we interact with each other. But for truly appreciating this change, let us acknowledge how we got here.
Time to dive into the history of the internet.
What is Web 1.0?
It was a time when most Generation Z kids were learning how to walk. Originated in the late 90s and early 2000s, web 1.0 is the most primitive form of internet known to the average home user. Before that, the internet was restricted and limited to the defence industry.
Once it made its way to our homes, several innovations started popping out.
However, the basic characteristic of web 1.0 was that it was read-only. It was a time when there was no way to engage with the internet. The best way to consume information is in text and images. No likes, no comments. During the same time, content creators were limited (due to technical constraints of setting up a website etc.), and the consumers were plentiful.
In a nutshell, it was an era of static web pages produced by limited people for mass consumption. A read-only avatar of the web!
What is Web 2.0?
Come 2004, we saw a massive shift in how we use the internet. Instead of being a remote spectator, we could now fiddle with it. You like something? Go give it a thumbs up. Got something to share? Post it. Feeling creative? Make some memes to let it out.
It isn’t hard to guess that this sounds like a social media platform. Well, web 2.0 was dominated by it. We saw the epic rise of Facebook, beating the black and blue out of Orkut, Yahoo, Google+ etc.
And as you might have guessed, this gave birth to the era of user-generated content. During the web 1.0 realm, content creation was limited to a few individuals whose job was to produce content for big corporations. However, with web 2.0, anyone could share their thoughts with the world. Instead of a centralized authority gushing out content, anyone could do it with a click of a button.
Due to this, everyone got an opportunity to create communities around their niche. These communities created a new species of influencers. You could create friends virtually based on your interests and hence carve out a niche in a rather generalist world.
In a nutshell, it is the read-write version of the internet. Examples of web 3.0 platforms would be Google, YouTube, TikTok, WordPress, WhatsApp, LinkedIn etc.
Fun fact: The word Web 2.0 became famous due to the First Web 2.0 conference held by Tim O’Reilly and Dale Dougherty, the term was coined by Darcy DiNucci in 1999.
Problems with Web 2.0
Web 2.0 has been extremely rewarding. All of us get to use our favourite social media platform for free. Then why do we need web 3.0 at all? Well, there are some fundamental problems around privacy when it comes to web 2.0. Allow me to explain:
1. The advertisement model
If you are getting something for free, you are the product. That quote aged well. Ever wondered how the likes of Facebook and YouTube make money? Advertisements. Simple. But the way these ads are fed to us is rather interesting.
These companies use machine learning algorithms to learn and predict the type of content that you would like the most. This is done by tracking your behaviour across the application (and at times, outside the app as well).
Once the data is in place, the algorithm runs various tests to learn about your preferences. And finally, it evolves into this content-gushing machine which is really hard to ignore. You are stuck into this loop of infinite scrolling where each post is interesting.
They do this because it is beneficial to their cause. The more time spent on the platform, the greater the number of ads served to you!
2. Echo chamber
While this algorithm is learning about your favourite content, it often processes some strong political/social opinions. That means if you believe that earth is flat, it will push you content that tries to prove the same. Therefore, confirmation bias kicks in, and you gain confidence in the misinformation you possess.
Basically, it does not even matter what is factually right or wrong. What you feel is right is right for the algorithm.
As a result, it creates a strong bias between the two groups with different opinions. Everything is forced to become black or white. The entire spectrum loses its value. If you are not left, you must be right. This leads to communal hatred all over social media.
It doesn’t stop here. Social media giants expose your private data to brands indirectly. Say there is a toothpaste brand that wants to advertise to young individuals. Social media could tell them that they have a group of 10,000 people who live on XYZ Street in Chicago, brush their teeth twice a day, have fixed an appointment with the dentist in the past 6 months and like to talk about oral hygiene every once a while.
In other words, they sold your data and identity as a persona to a brand.
Say you are a content creator. You just uploaded a video on YT, and it went viral. What if YouTube takes it down due to issues?
You worked so hard on this video, but once it is uploaded on YouTube, do you really own it? It is at the mercy of the platform. All social media platforms simply lend you a distribution platform to share your creation with the world. However, once uploaded, that creation belongs to the platform. Not you!
On a very similar note, the platform owners call the final shots. For example, recently, Facebook and Twitter banned Donald Trump. Also, some of his tweets were flagged and deleted.
We are not going into the righteousness of this decision. But remember, there is a middleman who can change the course of actions by his decisions. In future, this immense power at the hands of an individual may backfire.
What is Web 3.0?
Web 3.0 is the newest entrant to the evolutionary cycle of the internet. It is the internet powered by blockchain technology. Not only does it promise the rich experience of web 2.0 but also gives you back the ownership of your data. We discussed how web 2.0 controls your private and public data. Therefore, it is vital to understand what web 3.0 has to offer.
Web 3.0 is built on the core ideas of decentralization, openness and censorship resistance. It aims to create newer business models of revenue (vis-a-vis the traditional ad-based revenues) that do not piggyback on compromising the customer’s privacy. How? Because your identity is limited to a wallet address compared to elaborate details on the social media platforms out there. It would also provide newer ways for the content creators to engage with their audience.
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Examples of Web 3.0
We realize that it is hard to wrap your head around this. So let us approach this realm through a couple of examples.
1. Gary Vee’s Veefriends
Famous media influencer, Gary Vaynerchuk recently introduced his NFT collection called Vee Friends. This collection had a few hand-drawn images by the man himself. However, if you own this NFT, you are entitled to join VeeCon, an annual conference held by Gary Vee each year. Think of this NFT as a ticket to this event. There are a bunch of other utilities as well, but that is irrelevant for now.
Now all of this could have been accomplished through web2 as well. Where does web3 add value? Here goes:
From a user’s standpoint, why should your interaction with your favourite influencer be a function of your private data? Why should anyone (including your beloved influencer) abuse your email ID? Rather than being bombarded with spammy communication, it is better that an immutable record on the blockchain proves your access and loyalty. You chose to receive communication rather than getting fed by it.
A.2- Democratization of wealth:
Imagine if VeeCon becomes really big. He decides to invite Vitalik Buterin to his conference. Conventionally, Gary vee will bump the ticket prices and reap all benefits out of it. But now, you could trade your NFT with someone else who might be more passionate about Vitalik.
Even if the traditional tickets allowed you to transfer them to someone, you would still have to use social media platforms to ensure that you meet the best buyer. With NFTs, you could simply list it on a platform like OpenSea and interested buyers could send their offers.
If some brand wants to tap into Gary Vee’s fans, they could easily do that using on-chain data of the holders of Vee Friends. This is important because they still can’t abuse your email ID. They would have to kickstart the engagement via airdropping you an NFT (hence, adding some value to your life from day zero).
Traditionally, only Gary Vee would have made money out of this deal.
So with a simple tweak of the business model, communities now stand a chance to enjoy a richer experience with greater value added.
2. The Chingari pivot
Chingari is an Indian short-form video content platform. It gained popularity amongst the masses when TikTok was banned in India. Previously, they relied on ad revenue to run the business. However, lately, they pivoted to the web 3.0 revenue model.
Since December, Chingari users aren’t served ads anymore. How do they generate revenue, then you ask? Well, there are multiple streams instead of just one:
B.1: All creators would be incentivized to make videos in the form of a $GARI token. So you are helping the people who run the platform generate wealth. The more work they do, the more wealth they generate.
B.2: Every short video can be minted as an NFT, and users can buy and reuse it for commercial purposes. Finally, a user has skin in the game. They can participate in the entire ecosystem instead of just liking/commenting on the video.
B.3: Users could also send $GARI tokens to their favourite creators to get better equipment etc. This is equivalent to lending a promising artist some money for a share of their future returns. In return, they could get a share of the creator’s revenue in the future.
D. On top of all transactions, $GARI charges a facilitation fee which becomes their source of revenue.
If this model becomes successful, we can finally see a brand new era of social media applications that aren’t hogging data.
Well, an obvious question here is why are we using web 3.0 based technology here? Even web 2.0 software could accomplish this.
Once again, web 3.0 would take ownership of this data from the platform and put it in the hands of the users. Even if Chingari shuts down completely, your videos would be stored as NFTs in your wallet.
Secondly, it is about giving back to the users. Finally, the end user who earlier consumed content aimlessly can now be a part of the gig. This won’t have been possible without using web 3.0 interfaces that enable provable ownership of data on the blockchain transparently.
To the other side?
Is web 3.0 mainstream yet? Not really. But it is definitely a work in progress. A step in the right direction. Come to the bright side by investing in Web 3.0 Coin Set. It invests in some of the top cryptocurrencies working towards making web 3.0 a part of our daily lives.