What is Web3, this new “free and decentralized” Internet?

“It sounds more like a marketing buzzword than it is right now.”On his Twitter account, Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla and SpaceX, launched Web3 the social network platform he acquired before putting an end to this acquisition project. Despite being a staunch advocate of cryptocurrency, the billionaire doesn’t seem convinced by the promise of the Web3 internet. The promise can be read on the website of the Web3 Foundation, a dedicated organization that is actively working towards its emergence.

Our mission is to deliver Web 3.0, a decentralized and equitable Internet where users control their data, identity and destiny. Web3 Foundation website

Our mission is to deliver Web 3.0, a decentralized and equitable Internet where users control their data, identity and destiny.“, the details of the location of the institution. To do this, they prepare”Develop state-of-the-art applications for decentralized web software protocols. “Web3 is clearly the possibility of not letting anyone decide for everyone what the Internet should look like.

And with good reason, the Web3 Foundation is committed to answering this crucial question that everyone has been asking since the end of the Trump era:Who owns the Internet?Why would Facebook, Twitter or others have such a strong right to censor, without recourse? How does the Web3 Internet meet this requirement?

An evolutionary version for the web

To better understand what Web3 would be, let’s go back to the first two versions of the Internet to justify the name Web3, the short version of Web 3.0.

Web 1.0, the web in the early days of the internet and yahoo, was a simple, completely unstructured information portal where you could move between static pages. You cannot easily create content on your own.

The era of Web 2.0 began in the mid-2000s. It was sometimes calledSharing webEveryone can easily share their opinions with the world or create content. It has seen the rise of the social platforms and networks we use daily, such as Facebook, Google, Amazon (GAFAM) or services like Uber or Wikipedia, but most exchanges are centered around the big platforms.

To (re)read: Digital: How do you organize GAFAM?

From this observation, Gavin Wood coined the term Web3 in 2014. He now heads the Web3 Foundation, which is responsible for supporting decentralized technology projects.

What does the decentralized technology project mean?

Web3 advocates argue that today’s Internet platforms are too centralized and controlled by a handful of large companies, such as Amazon, Apple, Alphabet (the parent company of Google) or Meta (the parent company of Facebook). These companies have collected large amounts of personal data and content without users having any real control over it. As a reminder, Meta is in turmoil following the accusations of Detective Francis Hogan last December. The social network is specifically accused of promoting hateful content, through its algorithm policy.

To (re)see: Whistleblower before MEPs

So the idea is to return power to Internet users by creating a “decentralized” network where they can “move” their data from one service to another. Thus Web3 aims to eliminate middlemen and they are the big tech companies, which partly explains the reluctance of billionaire Elon Musk.

To (re)read: What would Elon Musk-run Twitter look like?

How do we decentralize the Internet?

For a better understanding, let’s take the example of a social network. On Web2, Meta operates the Facebook platform. Users are free to post content or search for information. But it is Meta who reaps the benefits. She makes the decisions on how to program the algorithm and also if she wants to delete an account or ban an account. It also has privileged access to all user data. We can clearly see here that the system is centralized.

In Web3, the platform will be managed by its users, through the blockchain, which is a secure and decentralized technology platform shared by users. A bit like a co-op, every time a user posts a message, they can earn a token for their contribution. This token will give him the opportunity to participate in the decisions made within the platform and to hold shares on the platform. He will make decisions on the evolution of the social network, whether to block this or that person, together with other content creators. In addition, everyone will have control over their data and will own their data, with the possibility of reselling it or keeping it confidential.

To (re)see: Blockchain, Restoring Digital Trust

Instead of a well-defined boss, all of his employees will have the means to interfere with the company’s decisions. On paper, the model looks perfect. But the blockchain model that is based on it requires a lot of money. To store all this data, you have to invest in big data storage centers. Herein lies the whole problem.

How do you finance a decentralized system?

In 2021, at least $27 billion was invested in startups that operate directly or indirectly on the blockchain, NFT, or even cryptocurrency. This year, global spending on blockchain solutions alone could reach $11.7 billion.

In June 2021, venture capital fund a16z announced the creation of a new investment structure. It’s called Crypto Fund III and owns $2.2 billion, and it’s entirely dedicated to Web3.

You do not own Web3. It is owned by investment funds and their sponsors. He will never escape their impulses. Jack Dorsey, co-founder of Twitter and former leader of the platform.

In the wake of this investment, co-founder and former leader of Twitter, Jack Dorsey, expressed doubts about Web3’s ability to restore power to users. He believes that venture capital funds will eventually regain control. “You do not own Web3. It is owned by investment funds and their sponsors. He will never escape their impulses. It is, after all, a central entity with a different brand‘, he argues.

Finally, regulators have raised concerns about certain aspects of the project, notably decentralized finance, or DeFi, which aims to make users independent of banks. This could encourage money laundering.

The rise of NFTs (or non-fungible tokens) and cryptocurrencies helped propel Web3 into the spotlight. It remains to be seen if Elon Musk is right about it.

To (re)read: What are NFT certificates, these digital certificates that can be worth a fortune?

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