Web3: What is it and why is everyone talking about it?

If you’ve been surfing social media or you’ve visited any website, chances are that you’ve come across some news about Web3. That’s because some of the most important people in the world of technology, such as Elon Musk or Jack Dorsey, have been referring to the topic.

And these are just two examples. In the crypto world, this technology is booming.

To understand what Web3 is all about, we have to go back a little bit and discuss the arrival of the first web and, sometime later, Web2. In a nutshell, Web1 was static and was based on hyperlinks that took us from one page to another.

Web2, on the other hand, brought us social media platforms and allowed us to generate content. It made the web interactive. Companies like Blogger or Facebook, Instagram and Twitter allowed us to stop being mere spectators who visited pages, consumed content and left. We went from spectators to creators.

But there’s one little detail. While these companies allowed us to become content creators, that content is still on their platforms under their rules. That’s the wall that Web3 plans to tear down. This new technology, which will be based on blockchains, will decentralize the web. Or at least that’s what the theory says.

Web3 advocates claim that they intend to create a more equitable World Wide Web and take some power away from the “owners of the Internet” —that is, companies such as Facebook, Google, Amazon or Microsoft, which monopolize everything. And I say “advocates” because, of course, there are people who are not in favor of this technology. But we’ll get to that.

The person who came up with the concept in 2014 is Gavin Wood, co-founder of Ethereum, the world’s second most important cryptocurrency after Bitcoin. Wood, who also created another very successful cryptocurrency called Polkadot, started from the idea that the internet needed a “makeover.” That is why he began to devise a protocol to decentralize its services.

But what does decentralization mean? Just like cryptocurrency, Web3 will run on blockchains that can be audited by anyone and cannot be controlled by external entities. For that reason, the concept of storage that currently exists could disappear, affecting companies like Amazon Web Services or Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud or IBM Cloud. And this is only one of many examples.

Going back to what I was saying… As everything in the world, this has become controversial. There are two important people among the main detractors of this technology: Elon Musk, founder and CEO of Tesla, Neuralink and SpaceX, among others, and Jack Dorsey, from Twitter.

While advocates claim that Web3 will provide greater freedom to the people who browse the network, others, such as Dorsey or Musk, claim that it’s nothing but a game for developers and investors who became billionaires with cryptocurrencies. They also believe that the power over the web will pass only from the hands of some executives, such as Mark Zuckerberg or Jeff Bezos, to those of other influencing people in the industry. “Has anyone seen web3? I can’t find it,” Elon recently twitted

It’s clear that none of the people who are into Web3 —or against it—know whether or not it will be successful. Not Gavin Wood, not Musk, not Dorsey, and not anyone else. As it usually happens in the world of technology, we first have to see what the companies that are working on this technology offer and then if users will indeed adopt it or if it will only remain part of a niche of crypto and blockchain fans.

By Axel Marazzi

Axel is a journalist who specializes in technology and writes for media such as RED/ACCIÓN, Revista Anfibia, and collaborates with the Inter-American Development Bank. He has a newsletter, Observando, and a podcast, Idea Millonaria.

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