Web 3 is said to be the next great thing for the internet as well as for crypto and decentralized finance. How is Web 3 doing? Are we there yet? What are the promises of Web 3 and when can we expect delivery? The ideal of this third iteration of the internet is to put power in the hands (or smartphones) of individuals instead of huge corporations. Meanwhile, the same things are happening in the background that happened as the internet evolved. People are giving lip service to the ideals of a decentralized internet but really looking at how to make money.
How Did the Internet Come to Be?
The internet was envisioned back in the 1960s and even before. The military and specifically president and former general Eisenhower worried about disruption of telephone communications in case of a nuclear war. As the internet came to be it was a also used for communication by scientists. It was only when the personal computer came to be that there was a way for normal people to communicate via the internet. And then people (specifically Bill Gates of Microsoft) realized that by making internet access free they could monetize it. Steve Jobs invented the iPhone and was responsible for all smartphones which further connected all of us. And Bill, Steve, and a lot of other people made a lot of money. The issue that web 3 is supposed to address is the centralization of the internet that resulted from the successful efforts to monetize it.
What Is Web 3 Supposed to Do?
Web 3 is important because, if properly done, it will get rid of the monopoly that big tech companies have on our communications and thus on our lives. The first use of the internet involved static web pages, a read-only approach. When, as smart phones came along, there were platforms where individuals could interact. Here is where companies like Google and Meta (Facebook) learned how to manipulate how data is shared, searched for, and either promoted or limited. Your searches end up finding what they want you to find and not what you would find if the deck were not stacked against you. What Web 3 is supposed to do is get rid of this problem.
Are We There Yet With Web 3?
According to an opinion piece in Bloomberg, Web 3 will take years to go mainstream. It is interesting and instructive that interest in Web 3 was high and then it faltered. Then it picked up again with the argument that this was the next new thing for crypto. Use the blockchain, use crypto to pay for things, merge the internet and cryptocurrencies and all will be just great! Like with the move of the internet from static sites to shared platforms, it may take monetization to create the necessary incentives to make Web 3 a reality. A practical issue is that the blockchain is decentralized. But, to make a system like Web 3 work you will need a protocol or set of protocols that everyone agrees upon and work together. There will be the coding necessary to build such protocols and the necessary agreements. All of this could take a decade or more. Then the issue will be usability, popularity, and that will decide who uses what.
It Takes Money to Get Code Written
We think there will always be a degree of tension between the need for decentralization and freedom and the necessity to pay for the work that needs to be done. When people get paid for creating products and services, they try to create things that people want, not necessarily what people need. Nobody really needs to share photos of their cat with the world but folks want to. In a competitive market the idea of tying cryptocurrencies into how Web 3 works sounds like the old monetization scheme. And it also sounds like a way in a free market to get Web 3 up and running sooner rather than later.
How Is Web 3 Doing? – SlideShare Version