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Jit Team

What does Web 3.0 really change?

Recap:

Since it originated in the 80s, the Interwebs have been drastically changing how the modern world functions. This is not a shock, although it’s necessary to underline how we take it for granted and how shockingly understated its influence is.

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Social- the origins of so-called ‘social media’ reshaped the definition of what ‘social’ means and clawed its way into the dictionaries. Start-ups enabled Tech Giants such as Facebook to receive over 40% of venture capital dollars in the form of advertisement funds just from new start-ups. The potential future impact of emerging platforms such as TikTok is still undecided. Only last year TikTok beat Google in the race for the most visited website. Stats show that the perspective seems to be promising for digital marketing companies and influencers, yet harmful for the human mind and social interactions.

Political- algorithms designed to ‘feed’ you with selective, often one-sided perspective news and ignite conflicts have become the norm. The Internet has affected political elections around the world and created a new sort of internet native bureaucrats.

Informational- a quick browser search will show that the Internet has fundamentally transformed the way we operate when seeking information. Find a topic of choice, no matter the field and in a matter of seconds, you gain access to the collective knowledge of a population.

Economics- economic trends tangled with the ever-increasing speed of information exchange, exploded due to possibilities unlocked by the creation of the Internet. The Internet is the very cause of globalization and eCommerce. The S&P 500 Tech sector keeps growing (with occasional dips) since 2017 with the technology sector stocks accounting for around 25% of the entire index.

Let me say that again- the Internet changes everything. Financial markets, social connections, unification of culture, politics, entertainment, supply chains….everything.

The Metaverse and VR worlds are just around the corner. Thanks to blockchain, Interwebs seem to fight back for its democratization, privacy, and ownership. At the same time, there is a strong trend of mindlessly consuming content of degradingly worse quality, algorithms fuelling conflicts, misleading information, and user data brokerage. We are at a crossroads and the fate of the Internet has become more important than ever. Let’s do a quick recap of how we got here — despite its flaws, the growing freedom it’s been aimed to offer, is worth appreciating.

https://twitter.com/elonmusk/status/1473165434518224896

Web1: Read-Only

The Internet has officially existed since the ’80s. It’s allowed users to have a place on the Internet yet in a narrow and restrictive manner. Thanks to less censorship here compared to print, the content creators were mostly professional writers and journalists of all sorts. The downside of lack of verification and less censorship was obvious — the public started to question the credibility of the Internet as an information source. If it goes about early social networks on Web1 or well-stated “internet companies” they were pretty much non-existing, with some loosely forming initiatives such as pen pals transferring from traditional mail to the electronic one. The majority of users using the Internet in the ’90s were consumers on static web pages and seldom user-generated content.

Web2: Read-Write

Fast forward to the early 2000s — Web 2 is the Internet as we know it today. Web2, crafted by Tim O’Reilly, was prompted by upgrades to hardware (servers), software engineering skills, and faster transfer speeds — paving a road to more interactive web applications.

Web2 allows everyone to become a content creator or at least publish their stuff freely, whether it’s your vacation photos or online courses you want to sell. Though it might seem like an Eldorado, looking at the earnings of top content creators, not everyone actually makes money off of what they create. Users generate all sorts of media to publish on social networks, i.e. Facebook, that later is able to sell user data for its own revenue. Data brokerage is a separate and complicated industry that somehow seems to be working under the cloak of digital marketing as if it was the same as selling your cookie information for targeted ads. Privacy is a huge concern as intermediaries are responsible for protecting ours.

“If something is free, you’re the product”

This is fully allowable because centralized companies have ownership over all user data, including their content and online behaviors. It’s self supplying mechanism, turning users into both suppliers and consumers. In terms of censorship, they are dependent on the terms and rules of a specific platform. Platform-based approaches make the user be at a mercy of where they are creating, handing over ownership rights.

Web3: Read-Write-Own

Mostly associated with cryptocurrencies and Nfts, Web3 offers much more than hypothetical financial gains. Decentralization and digital ownership are some of the biggest features of Web3 — participants have more ownership (more, not full?) over their content, data, and assets.

The bitcoin network was introduced in 2009, which offered up a new set of rules that Web3 cultivates. These principles may vary to a degree but in the core, it’s all the technology about being:

  • open
  • decentralized
  • censorship-resistant
  • immutable
  • trustless
  • permissionless
  • native built-in payments

Although there are products and services being built that are considered to be “Web3”, we’re far from fully transferring from web2 to web3. We are gradually observing platforms think about what it means to start building products and services that fit within Web3. Twitter’s Bluesky Project is one of the first attempts of building a decentralized social media platform. Let’s use Medium, as a use case. It’s a centralized tool allowing creators to publish and earn a buck or two…but with zero say in its governance. A blockchain-based platform that allows writers to gain full ownership of their work, consider writers as co-owners of their work, and earn directly from their audience would be a counterweight to what we observe now in the Web2 space. This is precisely the theme we will continue to observe as we all start shifting to Web3.

More than a hardware swap

In comparison to the shift from web1 to web2, being a result of major technological advancement, the step to web3 will also require a mindset shift. The whole of the pipeline developers, investors, VCs will be forced to think about the value their product delivers to the user. Power to the people, you might want to say but I’d be rather pessimistic about that too. What we’ll get for sure though comes with a permissionless and decentralized nature of blockchain. It partially removes the middleman (banks for example) allowing the data to live on self-sufficient infrastructure, without the need for control over information thus no censorship and less risk of data loss. The builders will be put in a no-compromise position when designing their platforms in a user-centered manner.

Interoperability is another major feature of platforms built on Web3. Different blockchains and platforms built on them can be pieced together to a seamless space where one’s identity and digital possessions can remain the same without the need of creating separate accounts, logging in and out to change the application.

Why We Need Web3:

  • User-centered data monetization approach
  • Decentralization offers more security and privacy as well as safer data storage
  • Chance of transparent supply chains thanks to blockchain
  • Native payments without the middleman
  • It offers a new way of creating companies such as DAOs
  • An internet upgrade is good for society

The early years of the Internet were exploratory in their nature. Over time, the Internet has remained “free” yet became increasingly corrupted. You probably see this in your life when you try to purchase something online. All of your searches are logged, sold to the highest bidder, and used against you. The Internet is free and yours to use, but direct access to your attention (thus you) is the product being sold. On the other hand, the current Internet can be weaponized. Governments of specific countries where the Internet is restricted use it as a threat or a direct propaganda tool.

The cornerstone of the Internet was allowing the masses easy access to global and democratized databases of information. It ought to be a collective effort, knowledge archive, and creative playground for the population. We, as a society, made it something…else.

https://twitter.com/jack/status/1473139010197508098

Toxicity and platform accountability:

People dehumanize other people on so-called social media — cyberbullying, hate speech, and shitstorms became a thing we became desensitized to. Information is increasingly unreliable and causing harm on a global scale. Fake news accounts for causing over $78 billion in economic loss each year and is expected to increase over time — they also spread much faster than real stories, thanks to its clickbaity and colorized nature. Realistic human faces and voices created by deepfake algorithms will enlarge the identity theft and data extortion issues.

The list of pros and cons keeps going, as technology is only a tool, a catalyst for human traits, flaws, and overall potential. Web3 won’t miraculously solve the issues we’ve had as a society long before the origins of the Internet, but we’re at a brink of a fresh start so let’s learn from our mistakes, get rid of the weeds, and not make it evil again.

In the next post, I’ll dive deeper into the technical possibilities of implementing the changes I’ve listed above. Follow for more information.

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