If you keep a weather eye on the goings-on of the tech world then you may have come across web3. This is what a lot of people are calling the future of the internet, and a step towards a more decentralised way of life.
Fractis is a web3 music NFT marketplace built on the blockchain. If those are a whole load of words you don’t fully understand, we can explain it for you.
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Hands up, who has trust issues?
Depending on where you live, much of society is built upon the values of capitalism. Businesses are driven by people’s data, and digital marketing has become so well disguised and embedded in social media that half the time we don’t even recognise it. Even still, whilst lots of companies are eager to appear to be transparent and trustworthy, we’re learning more and more of the contrary. Our collective feelings of trust, as consumers and citizens, is waning.
People have started to catch onto just how much of their data is shared with companies, and it’s not always clear what for. Last year, Apple shook up social media advertising by introducing an opt-out for data sharing, resulting in serious financial losses for big tech companies.
Internet users are becoming more keen for transparency and privacy. As this desire grows, it seems that levels of mistrust have been growing in tandem. What’s needed is a solution where everyone knows what’s going on, and there’s no need to place trust in anyone, because the solution isn’t run by one single person or company…
What Came Before Web3?
If there’s a third version of something, that implies there have been two previous iterations. This is true for the world wide web.
When talking about the evolution of the web, there is a web 1.0 and a web 2.0.
As the name suggests, this was the first iteration of the web. Tim Berners-Lee, aka the father of the internet, had a vision to create decentralised protocols that enabled the sharing of information all over the globe. In 1989, web 1.0 was born.
You’ll hear this also being referred to as the “read only” web. This is because this iteration was all about the consumption of content. Creators of the content would generally be developers who created websites that mostly consisted of text and image. This lasted until 2004.
There was no way that the internet was just going to stay the same. Up next came web 2.0. This is also referred to as the “read and write” web, or the interactive web. The big difference is that the creation of content became open to more people – you didn’t need to be a developer or coding expert.
Web 2.0 is the iteration of the internet we currently operate on – mostly.
Issues with Web 2.0
It’s rare to develop something and then simply settle on it in that form forever. As with all things, web 2.0 hasn’t been without its flaws. The flaws of web 2.0 mainly lie in the way monetisation and security is dealt with.
Many Web 2.0 apps and platforms follow a similar journey in terms of growth. They will launch with the goals on onboarding as many users as possible. Using user feedback, the app will be streamlined into a slick operation.
In order to attract as many users as possible early on, the service will be offered for free. However, this doesn’t tend to last.
Often, due to pressure from outsider investors, apps will need to start turning a profit. In order to do this quickly, they will either turn to advertising or data sharing. Neither of these are generally great for user experience, and so can affect how sustainable the growth of a platform is.
You’ll have probably noticed on social media platforms that you start seeing ads for something you typed into Google once last week. That’s because large companies can use your personal data to show you more personalised ads. This personalisation results in more clicks, which equals more revenue for the app.
Ultimately, a considerable portion of web 2.0 functions off of the exploitation of user data.
How our data is stored and protected is becoming a growing concern in a world where everyday life exists online. Web 2.0 frequently experiences data breaches. This is largely because the storage of people’s data is a responsibility left to the organisations who control the web platforms we’re using.
These companies will be answerable to government regulations. Depending on where you live, your data could be used against you in some scary ways. If you take to social media to air an opinion that isn’t in line with the government you live under, there could be serious consequences.
This level of control can also be applied to financial services like banks. Having access to your money suddenly cut off could cause a world of untold troubles.
Now, people have looked at the way the internet works and thought, “we can do better.”
Web3 is viewed as a new version of the internet that solves problems of privacy, security, and massive disparity of power. It is often referred to as the “read, write, own” web.
With the goal of being decentralised at its core, web3 is built on blockchain technology. It uses smart contracts, cryptocurrencies, and NFTs to give control back to the users, and ensure everyone is on a more equal footing. Thanks to consensus mechanisms (what makes the blockchain function), decision-making and power is taken away from a small, select group, and distributed more widely.
Power is distributed widely to the extent that anyone and everyone can participate. This is because web3 is also permissionless.
Another attractive aspect is that this iteration of the internet is trustless. Instead of relying on third-parties to carry out processes and transactions, web3 operates on incentives and mechanisms.
Another great thing about web3 is that it uses its own native currency. Blockchains have their own tokens and currencies, meaning no need to rely solely on fusty old banking systems.
The Benefits of Web3
Everything laid out above is probably sounding like a pretty attractive alternative to how things are currently done. The biggest benefit of web3 is ownership.
Never before have internet users had such control and power over digital assets. The inherent transparency of blockchain technology means that nobody is left in the dark about where their data is, or how it was acquired.
Apps are run by decentralised autonomous organisations (DAOs), meaning they’re not owned by one company. Instead, users can help run apps by owning or purchasing governance tokens. That means no big decisions can be made behind closed doors by a small handful of people.
You also own your data with web3. Your data lives in your wallet, and is only ever displayed on the blockchain when you decide. Plus, although the blockchain is public, your identity remains private. Whilst the transaction will be displayed, nobody will know it’s your wallet and your activity. So, no more selling of your data by big companies.
We’ve talked a lot about the security of data. This time, we mean it in the sense of how safe your position on a platform is.
For example, if you build your career on a user-generated content platform, you are at the whims and mercy of the platform owners. Should the platform enforce a sudden change of policy, you could find yourself without a job, with no real backup.
This was the case with OnlyFans last year, where the platform moved to ban explicit content. A vast quantity of its users had made a career on the platform by sharing explicit content, and felt betrayed and let down by this policy change. The platform quickly U-turned on its decision, following mass disapproval of the policy change.
With a web3 platform, these sorts of changes could not be made suddenly without the majority of participants’ consent. Also, if you felt you wanted to move your reputation and data from a web3 platform that no longer aligns with your views, you can simply transfer it to one that does.
It’s not like web3 is going to replace web 2.0 any time soon, nor do people necessarily want that. The best thing is for web3 to run alongside the internet we know and use today.
Certain things that could do with updating and improving, like banking or data storage, lend themselves to web3 wonderfully. This technology is still relatively new and experimental, so it hasn’t got everything figured out just yet. There’s no YouTube or Spotify equivalent on the blockchain yet.
For things like investment, trading, contracts, payments, and transactions, web3 is a forward-thinking, user-first alternative to web 2.0. Those activities tend to be linked to finance and money, but with creative mindedness, they can be applied to a whole host of areas. This means that web3 could solve a wide variety of problems across all kinds of industries – this is only the beginning!
Fractis is utilising web3 to build a secure and accessible road into music royalties sharing – join us to stay in the loop!