The term Web3, coined in 2014 by Gavin Wood, co-founder of Ethereum and developer of Polkadot, is used to refer to next-generation digital innovations and their applications on the internet that lay their foundations on blockchain technology.
This definition is also used to denote a phase of the Internet: the evolution of the network has been marked by a succession of eras (that of Web 1.0, from about 1990 to 2005, and that of Web 2.0, from 2005 to the present). However, this is not quite correct, as there is a substantial difference between Web3 and Web 3.0.
In Web3, in fact, the claim of ownership of digital goods, digital identity and decentralisation of data are given utmost importance. The transition to the new era is not yet complete; at the moment, Web3 exists as a set of shared ideas about the future of the Internet and initial experiments in this regard.
The meaning of the term itself is still under construction: the definition of Web3 has wide boundaries and is used to refer to many different aspects, all of which have in common the specific technology of this phase of the internet, the blockchain. Web3 aims to put blockchain at the basis of all existing technologies, from the internet to artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things.
The key issues are therefore decentralisation and content ownership. The opportunities offered by Web3 represent the golden age of content creators and artists: at this stage, everything you produce on the Internet is yours and you can decide how and whether to monetise it.
The great limitation of Web 2.0 is mainly related to centralisation: although users are free to interact with each other and to create and share content, this must be subject to the regulations imposed by the various web platforms where it is published.
Users often find themselves forced to remove or edit content to avoid censorship or banning.
With the introduction of new tools, Web3 will allow the user to move more freely on the Internet, such as:
- NFTs, non-fungible tokens that allow one to authenticate ownership of content on the blockchain or to create and assert one’s digital identity on the network (through, for instance, the use of NFT Domains)
- Smart contracts are software based on blockchain technologies that enable the tracking and management of cryptocurrency exchange. Thanks to smart contracts, transactions can be carried out without the need for centralised intermediaries and can be accessed by anyone as they are transcribed immutably on the blockchain. These tools promote not only decentralisation and privacy, but also the transparency that characterises the Web3;
- Decentralised applications (dApps) are open source applications based on smart contracts. Within these systems, users have full control over their activities.
- DAOs: to enable creators to have equal authority within the platforms for the creation and distribution of their works.
Thanks to Web3, the Internet will be owned by those who create its value and will be managed using blockchain tools, laying the foundation for the realisation of an ownership economy. The pioneers of this type of economy are precisely cryptocurrencies, since their value is not in the hands of a central authority, but in those of all those who own it.