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Web3: What is It?

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This page is meant to provide an introduction to the Web3 platform and its various features. It will also serve as an overview of its cultural impact thus far and as a reference for those interested in learning more about Web3, as well as those interested in investing in the platform.

What is Web3?

Web3 is the name given to the concept of a decentralized internet, based around the shared ledger systems used by cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ether and utilizing blockchain technology.

Web3 Explained:

The term itself has been around for some time, but has only recently come into common usage thanks to the growth of NFTs (non-fungible tokens) and proliferation of use by investors and individuals alike. What the term stands to mean is an internet service much like the one we are familiar with, but built and operated by users and builders alike: structured from therein via tokens and blockchain architecture. Web3 is, in short, an unrestricted and user-guided approach to internet service: completely decentralized and completely free of gatekeepers or middlemen.

Proponents of Web3 have envisioned the platform taking a multitude of different forms: forms like that of decentralized social media platforms, pay to win betting sites and video games (the rewards of which would be cryptocurrency), and NFT marketplaces, like OpenSea or Rarible, that let users buy and sell tokens at will. That is barely scratching the surface of what Web3 is all about, as idealists in the space envision the platform revolutionizing the way every person uses the internet: pushing toward a more open, middleman free digital economy and allowing people of all walks of life access to the vast possibilities of a decentralized internet.

The Phases of the Internet: Web1 & Web2

To fully explain how Web3 is different from the internet we are all familiar with, we must take a look at the other phases of the internet. Web1 was the early form of the internet—a sphere of blogs, message boards, chat rooms, etc.,—all harbored and overseen by portals like AOL and Compuserve. The main function of Web1 was a method of reading static web pages that were built with open protocols (HTML,SMTP, FTP, etc.,). Web2, or the internet as we’ve been familiarized with over the last 15 years or so, was the next (and semi-current) phase of internet access. This is the phase where active participation and curation comes into the fold, as social media sites like Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram fostered a new type of internet user: the content creator. This generation of user-created content was distributed and monetized by the parent companies of the hosting sites, of which kept most of the profits and content to themselves. What Web3 is hoping to achieve is a best-case scenario of the internet’s two previous phases. The hope is that Web3 will be able to favor creators and users instead of the publishers and platforms: flipping the script on the archetypes of the internet’s past incarnations. The new capabilities of Web3 will, hopefully, create a new renaissance of internet creativity and economy.

Why do I Keep Hearing About Web3?

The recent influx of discussion surrounding Web3 and its possibilities are a result of the usual hype and marketing, although its boom in popularity and coverage does signal the vast opportunities of the platform in numerous spaces. Web3 has a lot of energy, capital, and talent coursing through its veins at the current moment, with major venture capital firms injected billions of dollars into crypto-related projects as of last year and huge tech companies like Reddit and Twitter have started developing their own Web3 projects in house. The possibilities of Web3 have been attracting a large swath of talent as well. Tech workers with high-level jobs in huge companies are quitting their positions to pursue creating their own within the space of Web3. Essentially, the reason you keep hearing about Web3 is because a lot of people who are intrinsically tethered to the internet as a revenue-generating and creative space are talking about it, which in turn pushes the discussion of its implementation to the front page of a lot of people’s timelines.

What Does a Web3 Internet Look Like?

The way proponents of Web3 envision its implementation is a multi-part functionality: providing multiple benefits to the user and creator in the same breath. First, Web3 would allow for content creators and frequent users to monetize their content and activity in a way that has never been afforded to the average internet user before. The majority of content mega-platforms we are familiar with don’t actually pay content creators or curators all that much, as most of the profit for creators comes from third-party sponsorships and partnerships or viewer contributions (including merchandise sales, donations, membership fees, etc.,). Web3 would allow for these creators to monetize their content and profit from it more directly.

Secondly, Web3 platforms would—in theory—be governed by democratic tenets in a manner that they currently aren’t. The current structure of the internet is characterized by large tech companies (Facebook/Meta, Youtube/Google) that function as essentially autocracies: governed by internal principles and guidelines and not the whims of the everyday user. Web3 social media networks built on blockchain architecture would relinquish those decisions to the users, who would be able to vote on matters like bannable offenses, platform rule changes, and general website maintenance. Essentially, web3 platforms would be controlled and maintained by the people using them instead of faceless corporations whose internal structure and guidelines remain unchecked by the public writ large.

Thirdly, a Web3 internet would no longer be as heavily reliant on the advertising-based business model that Web2 platforms are currently built around. The ultimate result of this possibility is that users would have more privacy while using platforms, as the main profit drive of said platforms would no longer be data collection and targeted advertising.

The important thing to keep in mind is that these positive outlooks on the possibilities of Web3 implementation are just that: possibilities. This is a highly idealistic view of what can be achieved with a decentralized internet, but it hinges on a lot of logistical aspects of Web3 implementation going off without a hitch. Even still, its possibilities are enough to garner excitement in the average internet user which is understandable. The potential of Web3 as a platform is, in short, huge.

What Does Web3 Look Like Right Now?

There are a couple of Web3-esque platforms currently available to look at as an example of how Web3 actually functions in process. The most commonly cited and oft-reported example of a current Web3 platform is Axie Infinity—a Vietnamese-based video game that uses NFT and Ethereum cryptocurrencies to reward players for meeting in-game criteria.Essentially, quest rewards in a regular video game (XP, in-game items, story progression, etc.,) are replaced with real-life incentives and monetary rewards via cryptocurrency and NFTs. The game’s crypto-infused gameplay loop provides a real incentive for players to continue playing, but also has real world consequences tethered to the volatility of the cryptocurrency market. The main critique of something like Axie Infinity has been that it incentivizes players to (essentially) participate in crypto-based gambling, although proponents of the platform have argued that players should have the opportunity to be rewarded with real world incentives for investing their time into something like a video game.

Conclusion: What You Should Take Away About Web3 and Why AstraDB?

Web3 is a vision of an internet that is decentralized: created and operated by users. The basic premise is that every product and platform is equal parts entertainment and business opportunity. Web3 would afford the average consumer with a level of power and autonomy that has not been seen on the internet before: along with all of the potential shortcomings and exploitations that come with that type of unfettered freedom. Hopefuls envision a new era of democratic internet usage, while critics view Web3 as the hyper-financialization of a platform that is essentially an everyday utility. Web3 has a huge amount of potential and it is worth keeping an eye on as you build your own future on the internet.

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