What is Web 3.0? Is it time to pay attention to the hype?

Updated: Apr 22, 2021


A picture of the centralized Internet showing the size of large platform data controllers.
A picture of the centralized Internet showing the size of large platform data controllers.


Upton Sinclar said, "It is difficult to get someone to understand something when their salary depends on them not understanding it."


What is Web 3.0 (Web3)? It’s a popular term in the world of blockchain and decentralized technology. Is it just a buzzword, or something we need to pay attention to?


A look at the current Internet


The internet, in its early days, was all about freedom, decentralization, and sharing ideas. These principles injected the internet with the emotions of hope and excitement. This was something entirely new, a brand new project that existed outside of the cultural institutions, education and power structures that had always governed our lives.


Over time, the power structures have taken on greater presence, and control. Today’s internet is much more centralized, with big corporations like Google, Facebook, and Amazon controlling vast data pipelines of the online landscape and making it close to impossible for smaller projects to challenge them. How could decentralized technology like blockchain change that?


What is Web 3.0? What makes it better than the internet we have right now?


One reason Web 3.0 is such an important concept is because it gives individuals perpetual ownership and control over the content they create.


Today’s giant online platforms are built on the backs of individual content creators, like YouTubers, artists and creators on Spotify, writers on Medium, Huff Post, and a host of other popular subscription based content sites.


These familiar platforms are centralized, which means they are stacked to control our data, track user habits and spending, and profit from sharing data and information. Centralized organizations like social media platforms have become exponentially wealthy from the content we post on them, and as creators we are not rewarded proportionally.


Creators are caught in a web where they rely on the platforms to reach their audiences while not receiving fair compensation for the value they create for the platform(s). Web 3.0 is a system built differently. First and foremost it's geared toward fair compensation, fair rewarding and content creators retaining ownership and control over their content.


When our data is controlled by a few centralized organizations like social media platforms, it stifles innovation.


Without access to large bandwidth like the large platform forces, start-ups and entrepreneurs enter a field where it's difficult to compete and make an impact. And we've begun to collectively witness more openly how tech giants may abuse users’ data, and are violating privacy expectations.


We understand the content we create is our personal property but we have been relinquishing control over a large part of it's value. And as we have seen in some highly publicized instances, if a platform decides to ban or censor a user or content there is little that can be done. Web3 is tackling this principal head on fueled by the blockchain architecture where we can control our data and content without giving up control or its value; and have a right to decide who uses our content and who can make money from it.


There are other large corners of the internet that are widely used, but unlike social media, poorly monetized. Loyal users in large numbers consistently flock to sites like Reddit, Stack Overflow, Twitch and Wikipedia. Web3 and cryptocurrency are designing new apps and software to open up these corners and provide users with ways to monetize when contributing to these platforms. The intent is for humanity to benefit from and preserve the wealth of knowledge these platforms hold for a long time to come.


How are content creators compensated on crypto-enabled content platforms?


Under the current centralized structure an artist creates work that then becomes part of a platform and is subject to the platform standards of monetization. When an artist is new or relatively unknown, often they are selling their work massively discounted or simply posting content on a social media platforms for “free exposure” to build their brand. The platforms share artists content with their users and collect from subscriptions and advertisers as they share the content.


Crypto-enabled platforms evolve this practice into a profitable scenario for an artist. They require artists to ascribe a digital representation (like a Non-Fungible Token or NFT) to each piece of digital content from the start. When the artist's content is sold as an NFT, their name will be attached or registered to it perpetually and regardless of the current provenance. Even if the content is sold in the future, the artist will be entitled to collect a royalty on the work, and for the lifetime of the content.


For artists being taken advantage of by centralized platforms, like musicians, moving away from these platforms will have a far reaching impact. Decentralized platforms pose the possibility for musicians to reap 100x or more compensation from their content than what they could receive from centralized platforms, simply by going directly to consumers.


Web 3.0 Timeline


The infrastructure of Web 3.0 is still being built. Several technologies that serve as the foundations to access Web3— blockchain, cryptocurrency, smart contracts, NFTs ––are growing and taking shape. Brilliant and talented minds are busy “hacking” or coding the future landscape by creating decentralized applications that are designed to run on the blockchain infrastructure.


Many of the familiar protocols and services we see on today’s internet are being evolved and built on permissionless blockchains with open protocols and open standards. The transition for greater democratization of the web is underway. We are moving from a stage of early adoption to early mainstream adoption. Sites, services and platforms are continually showing up on the blockchain that make a greater level of freedom and decentralization available for individual users, content creators, and projects.


***

Mary Ellen Schrock is the CDO and Chief Disruptor of Floh Creative. As a bright, intuitive creative she has a passion for solving complex design and marketing challenges. Mary Ellen loves building successful brands! She created Floh Creative as a place to use her talent to build brands and share knowledge, process and strategies that grow business.


Sources: Advancing Web 3.0, "Web 3.0 Manifesto: Why Web 3.0 Matters", Mason Nystrom. Etherium, Github topics library.









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