Web3.0 – future Internet’s concept or just a digital advertisement stunt. Suddenly, out of nowhere, we began hearing of and using these terms regularly.
This year’s hottest new tech terms are definitely “web3” and “metaverse.”
The former refers to a decentralized web, based on the blockchain, while the latter is a combination of the internet and augmented and virtual reality. It is possible that we will see a merging of the concepts at some point. That is, if the concepts ever turn into anything.
Suddenly, out of nowhere in 2021, we began using these terms like they were a given and we were all privy to the change. Like a giant game of social telephone, the blockchain became “web3” and AR and VR morphed into “the metaverse” — and we all went along for the ride.
Web3 (or Web 3.0) now is still a concept. A vision of a serverless intelligent Internet system including decentralized webs. An internet system where users have the right to control their own data, identity and destiny. So is Web3.0 really the digital technology of the future, changing humanity’s view of the Internet, where the privacy is top priority.
Stephen Diehl, an engineer and blogger from the U.K share: “At its core, web3 is a vapid marketing campaign that attempts to reframe the public’s negative associations of crypto assets into a false narrative about disruption of legacy tech company hegemony.”
What he means is that web3 advocates say that decentralization could reduce the power of the biggest internet companies — Amazon, Google, Microsoft and Facebook — and give it back to the users. But will it?
“Web3 is, to some extent, a meme or marketing brand around a variety of blockchain and cryptocurrency activity, which was already happening. Like the enterprise blockchain wave of a few years ago, web3 is being hyped as much farther along in adoption than it truly is. Lots of people are trading crypto and buying NFTs, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they are adopting distributed alternatives to major tech platforms,” he said.
But Hilary Carter, VP of research at the Linux Foundation who spent three years at The Blockchain Research Institute in Toronto, sees a promising set of technologies that could be ready to scale to take on web3 hype.
“Web3 simply could not even exist without the innovation that is blockchain. The road has not been easy, as the technology has been too often dismissed for some early failures. But those failures drove innovation to address issues like scale,” Carter told.
Certainly, financial institutions are embracing the technology. In its annual blockchain survey, Deloitte reported that nearly 80% of the respondents believed that digital assets would be important or somewhat important to their industries within the next two years. There is also a persistent belief that the speeding of digital transformation amid the pandemic is driving a corresponding shift to more widespread acceptance of digital currencies.
While the idea of digital currency in an increasingly digital world certainly makes sense, it’s a bigger leap to say that the blockchain can support a broad set of use cases, including replacing current internet infrastructure, as supporters suggest.
Werbach adds that there are some promising examples, but there is reason to be skeptical about web3 as an overall concept.
“New systems built from scratch, such as in DeFi (decentralized finance), don’t have the problem of legacy firms, but they face the challenge of scaling and mass adoption. Many so-called ‘web3’ solutions are not as decentralized as they seem, while others have yet to show they are scalable, secure and accessible enough for the mass market. That may change, but it’s not a given that all these limitations will be overcome,” he said.
And, whether web3 is a marketing slogan or a true technological trend, there is certainly a lot of money and tech behind it. Yet there are clearly still substantial obstacles and challenges ahead, and only time will tell if web3 can overcome them and live up to the latest hype cycle.