Web3 is the next generation of the internet and will exist on the blockchain.
It will be decentralized, meaning it won't be controlled entities like Facebook or Google.Twitter, GameStop, Reddit, and VC firm a16z are all putting resources into building Web3.
In the next era of the internet, you won't have a social account for each platform.
Instead, you'll have a single social account, able to move with it from Facebook and Twitter, to Google, shopping websites, and more.
Your moves may be cataloged on the same digital backbone that supports cryptocurrencies like bitcoin blockchain instead of massive corporate servers like Amazon Web Services. And this new iteration of the internet won't be controlled by a central power, meaning no single entity will govern it as Facebook, Google, and others govern their own empires.
Welcome to Web3, the successor to Web2 which is what we're in now, where tech giants hold the majority control of the market. Web1 spawned Web2 when we went from merely reading information on web pages to a more social internet.
Like so many other ponderings about the internet's evolution, Web3 is still merely a thought, or perhaps even vaporware, a name for ultra-hyped tech that has yet to materialize. It also may not prove to be as benevolent as is hoped (look at how social media turned out.)
But proponents say it, like cryptocurrencies and the metaverse, is the future.
NFTs, the metaverse, Web3, and cryptocurrencies are linked
A man wears VR goggles.
One aspect of the metaverse is that users will hopefully be able to go virtually from platform to platform with one single account just like we will in Web3.
And NFTs, one-of-a-kind tokens representing your ownership of a virtual good, could be more easily bought and sold with cryptocurrencies within a space like Web3.
Web3, a name coined by Ethereum cofounder Gavin Wood, will be about evenly distributing online power, sucking away control from the Big Tech platforms. It'll exist on the blockchain, a virtual spine built by a network of computers housing data that's open to the public (Ethereum is an example of a blockchain, though it also has its own cryptocurrency called Ether.)
How you use Web3 won't look very different than how you use the internet now though, Wood wrote in 2018.
The idea is that if you participate in Web3, such as perhaps posting a photo on a network that lives on the blockchain, you'll get a token, as NPR reported. That token will give you a stake of ownership and will let you weigh in on decisions made on said platform, such as whether a certain post containing misinformation should be removed.
That'd be a big departure from how things operate now, where internet platforms make their own rules and carry them out online, much to the chagrin of critics, including conservatives with unproven allegations of censorship.
That's also why Web3 could be a balm for antitrust woes and monopolistic business practices. This next-gen web would inherently strip power from big corporations since they would no longer be the only prominent platforms to use and would give that power back to the people, at least hypothetically.
Many technologist bigwigs are all for Web3 but not all
Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey onstage at a bitcoin convention on June 4, 2021 in Miami, Florida.
Tesla CEO and bitcoin enthusiast Elon Musk has notably decried Web3 as "BS."
But venture capital firms and large corporations are already investing time and money into building it out.
Twitter is working on a project dubbed Bluesky to build its own decentralized social media platform, which would be a step toward Web3. And in November, Twitter said it would launch a dedicated crypto team to be "a center of excellence for all things blockchain and web3."
And famed Silicon Valley VC firm Andreessen Horowitz, which is working to thrust crypto into the mainstream, is putting sizable leg power into lobbying Capitol Hill to embrace Web3.
"It's time to begin," reads a blog post on the firm's website. "It's time to build a better internet."