After 30 years of the internet, a relatively small band of people believe it’s time for a different future. Let’s see if you would like to be a part of it…
(I’ll assume some knowledge about Blockchain in this post, its purpose and its workings, if not check out these videos to get acquainted)
I recently attended the Web3 Summit in Berlin and through this 2 part blog, I hope to breakdown and demystify some of my learnings from the conference, in the hope of exciting the everyday Joe about Web3. The summit was hosted by the Web3 Foundation, a collection of pioneers and industry leaders hoping to join up & push the movement forward.
Most people heard about Bitcoin, some the blockchain, but appreciating the potential of this new internet is lost on many.
It’s fair to say that at these sort of conferences and generally in the blockchain space, we have a whole load of jargon, some user experience problems and some basic, ‘What the **** are you guys talking about!?’ problems.
However by writing this post, I’d like to help in the journey towards the vision of a new, fairer, more economically distributed, decentralised internet.
My aim is to engage some of the 95% of society who have no idea what we are banging on about so enthusiastically!
Web3 for Dummies
Before we get to the ins and outs of the conference, the simplest way to explain the concept of Web3, and why it’s exciting, is imagine if when Facebook began, they took a decentralised approach to their growth, governance and value creation.
As Douglas Rushkoff so eloquently described when talking about Facebook’s users not being their customers, but in fact their product, Web3 and blockchain technology looks to give the opportunity for you to be a social networks co-owners, their partners in crime if you will, not just their users.
As such, the Web3 movement and the people behind it are interested in letting all of us own the data we create, at the same time as giving us the opportunity to move that information, and any value created freely around the internet.
The vision is one that will take place in an environment where middle-men, for example Banks & Silicon Valley conglomerates, are not able to extract huge swaths of control, hide behind walled gardens and carry out practices that are damaging for society but good for profits.
Anyone seen The Big Short ?
So Web3??? What is Web1 and Web2 you may ask!
You can learn more in this warm welcome and excellent post by Vivek Singh of Consensys and Gitcoin, he gives more context and background to the why, what and how of Web3, taking you on a journey through the last 30 years of the internet to today, and the vision for the Web3 in more detail.
To the Conference!
It was a blustery, slightly rainy morning in Berlin when I arrived on Day 2 of the summit. The WiFi password was ‘ moretruth ’, giving you a flavour of where openness and transparency sit on the priority list of the organisers.
The first talk I attend, whilst warming my hands with a sturdy German made coffee, was that of a tech titan, HTC, announcing their new crypto phone.
They announced they are accepting payments for the phone in Bitcoin or Ethereum only, this got a big clap from the audience.
The phone promises to allow users to hold what are known in the industry as private keys. Usually things like 12 word long phrases, they are totally random and almost impossible to remember of the top off your head. Like a password, but pumped full of adrenaline.
In blockchain world, these keys can hold the access to your data, money, social information or identity. By design, if you lose your private key, you lose access to what’s held in the wallet or service you are interacting with.
Such a large player being at a relatively unknown conference in the cold snap of East Berlin was a good start I thought.
There are obviously some smart people who you wouldn’t expect betting big on the Web3 movement, and that made me smile.
The next talk was Dr. Gavin Wood, Co-Founder and ex CTO of Ethereum (the second largest, by market cap, blockchain in the world) discussing Polkadot, a new Web3 venture.
Dr. Wood introduced substrate, a DIY blockchain tool for Polkadot. At the same time as this intro, an audience member was cracking open a brand new mac and with instructions laid out for him began downloading some programs.
Once that was finished, Gavin proceeded to live code and create a new blockchain and wrote a simple program on this chain in under 45 minutes. For a dev layman like me, that seemed quite impressive.
Polkadot is described as a heterogeneous multi-chain technology. Wow. Sounds complex!
From what I can gather, they want to be a very thin lubricant for the entire Web3 space.
Helping this new web to connect, share, govern and verify itself.
To help explain, I’ll bring it back to the social network example.
Let’s pretend a Facebook Web3 copycat was running on Ethereum, but some researcher who works at a University, who has their own blockchain to help them verify and manage research, wanted to capture social data and give a boat load of cash to you and your friends for specific, time limited access to your profile, historic data or social graph.
This would probably be really hard to do, even in Web3 land, if there wasn’t something like what Polkadot is proposing that could facilitate and share the information & payment across the various blockchains of the new web quickly and easily.
Data has been described as the new gold, so why shouldn’t you benefit from your own?
I hope this short intro to what many hope will be the future of the internet was enlightening.
In the next post, I’ll talk about some more interesting projects from the conference, but also spend a good bit of time on what I found to be the most intriguing talk of the summit on Day 3, from Bernd Fix, former spokesperson of the Computer Chaos Club.
Would you believe, it was a talk on politics in the Web3 space.
His talk ended with the longest, and loudest round of applause I’d heard at the conference, and I look forward to shining a light on his talk. Follow me on here or our teams twitter @CLN_Network to hear when its out and read part 2.
If you would like to keep abreast of the Web3 movement, get involved in some projects or learn more, here are some handy links…
Our team’s goal at the CLN Network is to help entrepreneurs and everyday people create and share value in their existing, or newly created, communities utilising blockchain technology.
We want the visionaries we work with to be as excited about joining the Web3 movement as we are.