The term Web3 is generating a lot of interest at the moment, and with good reason. It has the potential to revolutionize the way we share information and allow us to share value just as easily. There are many out there who are probably wondering what happened to Web1 and 2, and what they were. In order to understand why Web3 presents a paradigm shift in the way the internet operates, it is wise to understand what came before.
Web1 was, unsurprisingly, the first iteration of the web and this can be placed roughly between the years 1990 and 2005. Adopters of the web in this era primarily used it for finding and sharing information and reading content. The creators were typically developers who built websites that contained information presented as static text or images. It was the web at its most basic. It allowed people to share information freely. It was open, decentralized and no one controlled it, but functionality was very limited, and that paved the way for Web2 to steal the show.
To be put as simply as possible, Web 2 is the interactive and social web. Content is arranged around people and created by them. You do not have to be a developer if you want to upload a video and allow millions of people to see it, interact with it, and comment on it. Everyone has an opinion and Web2 has allowed people to present theirs to the world, for better or worse. Web2 brought about an explosion in functionality, accessibility and ease-of-use — but at a huge cost to privacy, security and control. This is because the platforms that enable anyone to create dynamic content and social profiles with such ease, also control them.
This centralization of power led to the meteoric rise of companies such as Google, Facebook and Amazon. By moving away from the static web pages of Web1, these companies created interactive experiences that allow user-generated (but not owned) content to become an intrinsic part of their business model. The more people they attract to share information through their centralized platforms, the more information they have control over, the more they can exploit their users for financial gain. Web2 facilitates this. Web3 will rectify it - and enable much, much more.
Web3 has many aspects to it, but at its core is the return to decentralization as in Web1, the maintaining of the high functionality of Web2, and the addition of web-native value transaction and ownership via tokens.
Web3 is giving web users autonomy over their data and assets. It allows people to choose what information they share, how they interact and transact and even own assets on the internet - without third party involvement. The interface of Web3 may come via the use of decentralized apps, or Dapps, that run on decentralized networks, allowing people, organisations and machines to interact directly with each other without the need for third parties.
Web2 allowed the world to transfer data instantly. Web3 will enable assets of any kind to be transferred just as seamlessly using tokens. Tokens can be fungible or non-fungible, also known as NFTs. An NFT is unique. Only one exists, and this can be independently verified. Fungible tokens or cryptocurrencies represent value but are not unique, just like dollars or euro. All tokens exist on blockchains. In Web3, users and builders can own pieces of the internet and internet services by owning tokens. Tokens give users property rights: the ability to own a piece of the internet. This can be art, photos, music, credentials, governance rights, or in peaq’s case — ownership of machines, vehicles, robots and devices.
Why does Web3 matter?
How we use and leverage assets has always been liable to change, but with Web3, this will not just be a passing phase. This is because tokens provide a financial incentive for anyone who wants to participate in creating, governing, or contributing to the new, decentralized internet. People will be directly rewarded for their activity, and they’ll be able to do it on a peer-to-peer basis, without the interference of banks, governments, or corporates. This represents a seismic shift in the way we interact, behave and transact online and in the real world.
There is reportedly more than $5 trillion sitting idle in bank accounts just to enable transactions to be made around the world. This shows that while Web2 sought to transfer information quickly it cannot apply the same mechanics to the transfer of value. Web3 is then a step forward from Web2 in this respect. It can also so be seen as people taking the internet back to its fundamentals; back to a time when people operated on a person-to-person basis with those they wished to share information and value with, and no one else.
Web2 allowed us to use the internet on other people’s terms. Web3 allows us to use the internet on our terms. Through decentralization of control comes democratization of opportunity.
Web3 and peaq
Web3 is at the core of what peaq is all about. We're on a mission to shift the multi-billion dollar Internet of Things from the Web2 to the Web3. The Internet of Things made vehicles, machines, robots and devices aware of their surroundings and able to communicate. Now Web3 is enabling these things to become fully autonomous and self-sufficient, able to provide all kinds of services to people, businesses and other things. peaq is the bridge to a secure and decentralized Economy of Things, and you can read more about it here.