For those who witnessed the evolution of the web from the days of dial-up connections to the early cringe-worthy era of social media, the internet has been part and parcel of our daily lives. It is an ever-present stream of information that everyone knows how to use but not necessarily understand how it operates.
With the rate at which the web has grown, it is no surprise even a six-year-old could be an e-commerce mogul. However, despite serving us so well for the past 20 years or so, the current web is not without flaws, especially in terms of control, data, security, and privacy. As a result, users are more aware of the data wars taking place behind closed doors at internet giants like Google, Microsoft and Meta, as well as the lack of digital anonymity.
For many, this doesn’t seem to be a concern. They have accepted that their data is there for the taking, but as the incoming wave of decentralisation grows, we’re steadily entering a brand-new digital era of the Web 3.0 or Web3.
The third iteration of the internet promises to bring more user empowerment, openness, and privacy. Not only does Web3 represent a new foundation, it reimagines corporate governance, value creation, and stakeholder participation in a fundamental way. It provides decentralised networks for delivering faster user experiences with better personalisation and allows users to truly own their data, content, and digital presence.
With Web3, the key focus is to move to an open-source format of the internet, away from the centralised controls that dictate a user’s experience. The notable technologies underlying the development of Web3 include blockchain, AI, semantic web, and machine learning. So far, the key use cases have been around the solutions these emerging technologies will bring, mainly in the form of decentralised applications (DApps), decentralised autonomous organisations (DAO), Metaverse, decentralised finance (DeFi), social media, the creator economy and more.
DAOs are among the top blockchain Web3 use cases. In essence, they are online communities owned by their members who can govern them through consensus or voting. DAOs represent a prominent Web3 example of on-chain governance, as there is no centralised power.
Moving forward, they will be a key organisational model for future companies relying on a Web3 infrastructure.
Another key use case is the Metaverse. Often mistaken for each other, Web3 and the Metaverse are two different concepts. The Metaverse is only part of the Web3 foundation, as it relies on the same decentralised principles to provide immersive and engaging experiences for users. Web3 can allow Metaverses to be more interoperable and transparent, and give users the power to dictate their experiences.
DeFi is Web3’s version of a more transparent financial system, based on blockchain technology. DeFi solutions are fueling financial utility in a vast number of ways through smart contract technology. Both DeFi and Web3 projects are designed to be permission-less, open, and equitable to ensure participants can transact and transfer money within a speedy, borderless, and peer-to-peer system.
Web3 will be one of the main pillars in empowering the creator economy for the new era of digital nomads and artists. Creators are now able to rely on its principles to engage in seamless collaboration without middlemen, and monetising their works through blockchain applications like NFTs and peer-to-peer payments.
Social media networks
Another interesting use case is the creation of a decentralised social network, which I believe is what Elon Musk is striving to achieve with Twitter. A social media platform that allows users to monetise their content, decreases spam accounts and limits censorship. But the jury is still not out on this as Web3-based social media can pose its own risks regarding safety and unsavory content.
In summary, Web3 has many things in store. While some of the use cases such as DAOs and DeFi have already started making an impact on the blockchain community, others like the Metaverse and social media networks are still under development. The changing landscape of regulations will also play a large role in defining how much web3 can actually be as decentralised as its vision entails.