Move over metaverse, there’s a new tech buzzword in town! It’s Web3 or Web 3.0 – the evolution of the internet as predicted by the aficionados of blockchain, the technology behind environmentally damaging cryptocurrency and Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs).
The idea itself seems like natural progression from Web 1.0 to Web 2.0 to the next thing. Up until the early 2000s, the internet was dominated by some major content creators and most users were just consumers. That changed with Web 2.0 when more and more users became the content providers and the big players in the industry provided a place where such content could be shared.
Web3 would be the next step. The users are not just content creators, they are also in charge of the platforms where the content is shared. Centralized entities, such as Facebook, Twitter, and Google, will be replaced by social media platforms and search engines with no company behind them.
"There's a small group of companies that own all this stuff, and then there's us who use it, and despite the fact that we contribute to the success of these platforms, we don't have anything to show for it," Mat Dryhurst, a Berlin-based artist and researcher who teaches classes at New York University on the future of the internet, told NPR last month.
The idea is understandably intriguing to many people, especially in light of social media companies' behaviors concerning privacy, misinformation, and the general disregard for the mental well-being of its users. But, despite the good intentions of the proponents of this vision, the outcome might not be what they desired.
Former Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey shared on social media that users won’t be the ones who own this possible future internet. He claimed that venture capitalists are already investing in the technology and they will be the ones in control.
"You don’t own 'web3.'"
"The VCs and their LPs do. It will never escape their incentives. It’s ultimately a centralized entity with a different label,” Dorsey tweeted on December 21. “Know what you’re getting into…”
This has certainly caused a stir among fans and proponents of Web3.
Another commotion came from Elon Musk, as the billionaire took to Twitter to vaguely discuss the uncertainty of the future of the internet. We are looking decades into the future, so much is uncertain, but, Musk argues, Web3 is currently "more marketing buzzword than reality".
I guess we’ll just have to wait and see if Web3 really is the future of the internet.