The Real Meaning of Web3
The first phase of the Internet can be characterized by the way users initially interacted with the Internet. Most users, during the first iteration of the web, were passive consumers of content. In other words, Web 1.0 was mostly about developing technologies for reading, and less for writing. Users were passive consumers of content already published online. The Internet connection speed at that time barely allowed for the transfer of images, so CD-ROM was the carrier for video content.
The next phase of the Internet was about interactivity, expressed by blooming blogs and social media. Users became content creators on platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.
The downside of this more participatory Internet was that by creating content, users were also providing personal information and data to the companies that controlled these platforms.
The content was aggregated in data silos belonging to corporations. Along with distributing content, those platforms collected, exchanged, and even leaked personal information provided by the users. Now, more and more initiatives are working towards making this walled data accessible to the users and providing various mechanisms to export collected information in response to users' demands. Of course, it would be best to receive this data in some common format, but currently, different platforms open their data in different formats. The good part of this movement is that users' data actually becomes more accessible, even if it needs to be reformatted for further use.
The beginnings of Web3 are reaching Tim Berners-Lee’s idea of the Semantic Web, which can be briefly described as the Web of Data:
Strong emphasis on the hidden possibilities of data we can also find in The International Bateson Institute definition for Warm Data:
The human body without a doubt is a complex system, so interrelationships in personal data fall purely under the definition of Warm Data. This means that everyone has a role to play in the process of taking back ownership of their data, and redirecting the data from mainly marketing purposes today, so it begins to serve greater social goods, and on top of that allows you to optimize your health, diet, time, budget, and other aspects of personal growth.
Tim Berners-Lee in his beautiful vision provided building blocks that allowed for building Web1 and Web2, but there were still missing pieces, and in 2009 Satoshi Nakamoto put this puzzle together inBitcoin whitepaper.
Tim Berners-Lee early noticed the value of data and for many years has advocated for freely accessible data on the Web. Meanwhile, big corporations like Facebook, Google, and Amazon were clearly violating his vision, by keeping users' data in silos. These social media companies are just the most obvious examples, but in fact, the whole Web2 advertising industry is built on aggregating and selling users' data.
Blockchain technology allows to bring the data ownership back to users. Thanks to decentralization, users can decide for themselves exactly what data they want to share for the greater good, what data to keep private, or available for payment in automatic requests. For example, socially beneficial data use cases may include: sharing some portions with research programs or teaching open-source artificial intelligence algorithms. Moreover, with the wide adoption of current Web3 standards you can profit from owning data as your asset.
Many faces of Web3
Web3 collects many foundations and initiatives. At a closer look, some of them are not what they initially appear to be.
The name of the Web3 Foundation can be a little misleading. The foundation in fact relates to the principles of Web3, but is also very narrowly focused on the Polkadotblockchain project. Polkadot describes themselves as multichain, which refers to an ecosystem of specialized blockchains called parachains. The aim of parachains is to allow interoperability between different blockchains. The Web3 Foundation has a Grant program that isparticularly interested in funding projects that build out layers of thePolkadot Stack. The Web3 Foundation is sometimes referred to as W3F, and although this abbreviation is similar to W3C, these organizations are separated.
World Wide Web Consortium
World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) used to work on implementing the vision of Semantic Web standards by 2015. The marketing name for the Semantic Web of data changed, When blockchain provided previously missing technological pieces, and the standardization of the Semantic Web became the standardization of the Decentralized Web.
Among many other foundations in the Web3 space, Identity Foundationhas a very vibrant open-source community, focused on documenting new standards for decentralized Web, and the Id Foundation is closely cooperating with W3C.
One value that all Web3 initiatives have in common is that “users own their data”.
Decentralized Web Applications
Blockchain not only allows Web users to take back ownership of their data but also provides a secure way to store and manage this data in a decentralized way. When you own the data, you want it to be secure, and blockchain is a solution to this. The fact that data is decentralized removes the necessity for backup. And if it’s truly decentralized it also can’t be censored in any way. So we are talking here about data that is always accessible, and secured by strong cryptography.
In Web3, the network is decentralized, so no one entity controls it, and the decentralized applications that are built on top of the network are open. The openness of the decentralized web means that no single party can control data or limit access. Anyone is able to build and connect with different decentralized apps without permission from a central authority.
Data is your precious asset
The Web3 gets a lot of attention and is often confined to a narrow space like NFTs, or the Metaverse, but having its roots in the Semantic Web of data, the Web3 refers to all web technologies that participate in the process of bringing the data ownership back to the users, and anything that stands opposed to users owning their data is simply not within the realm of Web3.
Data is your asset, so the effort of taking back its ownership is a long-term investment. Your data can provide valuable insights about yourself. Just by the fact it’s aggregated together, you can find new patterns previously unnoticeable, while having your data separated. Today most of your online data generate income for the platforms that store and process it. In fact, this data can generate passive income for you. With the advent of Web3, we are yet going to discover many new ways for connecting and monetizing our personal data.