Among the people who closely monitor innovation and advanced technology, the concept of Web3 (or Web 3.0) has been a topic of growing interest since 2014. Many of them think it’s the next logical step in the Internet’s evolution.
Some background to start with
The first version of the Internet, now referred to as Web 1.0, was static, which meant it was possible only to view pages uploaded by developers who had expertise in programming.
Web 2.0 is the version where users can take advantage of third-party communication platforms – including social media such as Facebook, Instagram and Reddit – to share and create their own content.
Where we’re at now
The intermediaries can also deduct a commission on the content sold or they can censure any content they don’t agree with. They can even decide who can or cannot see the content.
Plus, those gatekeepers have grown into huge businesses and gained unrivalled power. Google is worth trillions of dollars and has immense power to influence elected decision-makers all over the world. The same can be said for Meta (formerly Facebook), Microsoft and Apple.
Less trust, more truth
Concerned that the security of their personal data requires them to put their trust in Meta, Microsoft, Google or Apple, IT specialists are questioning whether the Internet should depend on giant, impenetrable companies.
Those specialists would prefer the Web to be based on facts instead of user trust.
An ambitious new idea was launched in order to take back the Internet: Web3.
Web3 in concrete terms
Web3 is based on blockchain technology to ensure that all actions taken on the Internet are “real.” The goal is for every transaction or decision to be verified through the blockchain infrastructure.
Blockchain technology also enables users to be directly involved and make decisions democratically. Web3 would allow a form of self-governance for digital behaviours.
As Web3 proponents explain, that structure would decentralize the entire Internet, taking it out of the hands of mega-businesses and platforms. No more extreme censorship and no more companies that limit the incomes of content creators.
Web3 would also give users better control over their personal data. Rather than handing over their data to third parties, users could manage their own digital identity embedded in the blockchain and stay informed at all times about who’s accessing it and for what purpose.
- Read more: Understanding blockchain
Web3 and copyright
At this point, it’s difficult to foresee the impact of Web3 on copyright.
Similar to blockchain technology, Web3 should enable authors and artists to take control of their contractual relationships through smart contracts, which are based on programs automatically executed by the underlying computer code.
Web3 should also generate more money for authors and artists by eliminating the gatekeepers.
Could counterfeiting be facilitated and forgeries more easily distributed, taking even more money out of the hands of authors and artists?
Since there would be no intermediaries on Web3, would it be more difficult to distribute content to online users?
We can only guess the outcome until Web3 has actually been deployed.
Future of Web3
For the time being, Web3 remains an optimistic concept that hasn’t been put to the test under real-world conditions. You can’t yet use Web3.
Various steps still have to be taken before Web3 will be functional. For example, more users of a single blockchain would be needed to make an iteration of the Web3 work.
The Web3 concept is often linked to the Metaverse. Those two concepts are different but could be combined within the same project.
- Read more: What is the Metaverse?
Limits of Web3
On paper, the idea of making the Internet more democratic and decentralized is tempting but it may be illusory for a number of reasons.
First, the costs of accessing blockchain technology such as Ethereum are extremely high. That barrier doesn’t affect the current Web 2.0.
Studies also show that the initiatives taken so far to launch Web3 have been severely lacking in terms of decentralization. Decision-making power ends up being concentrated among the individuals who initiated the project, while the democratic aspect of the endeavour quickly fades into the background.
Plus, to exercise your rights on Web3, you need a strong background in computer programming.
In addition to those compelling factors, there are the technical challenges of managing the multiple software updates needed in order to use Ethereum and there is not yet any regulatory oversight for Web3.