Web3 is the latest cheesy buzzword in the technology space added to the pool along with Artificial Intelligence, Blockchain, DeFi and NFTs. Many big tech and digital currency influencers have recently given their take of Web3, with much criticism about it.
To start, let me state what Web3 is not. Web3 is not an alt-right, right-wing, hyper-capitalist, libertarian approach to freeing the Internet from the tight controls of incumbent big tech companies. Nor is it just simply the Internet with tokens and NFTs added in. These takes are superficial and seek to dismissively slap a label on the term without diving into the core of what it represents.
Web3, in this writer’s opinion, is a new approach to web applications where the users have more control over their data, a more direct engagement with content creators, and as a result a more streamlined experience on the Internet.
Compared to today’s Internet where a user has 50 different logins for 50 different applications, an example of applying the Web3 paradigm would have the user with a single login for 50 different apps. The reason blockchain is often conflated with Web3 is because it is the best tool to facilitate this new paradigm. In the example implementation provided, a user would need an on-chain single identity that applications point to as the source of truth as opposed to building their own login system as well as integrating logins with Facebook, Google, Twitter and so on.
Google’s login functionality across apps is a close implementation but they as a company own the data instead of the user. We are seeing the negative consequences of this with surveillance, default tracking and worse user experiences. Due to the public finally realizing the overreach of Big Tech, the Web3 meme is gaining traction even outside of the digital currency space.
Twitter’s former CEO Jack Dorsey recently criticized the concept claiming it is still owned by “VCs and their LPs.”
You don’t own “web3.”
The VCs and their LPs do. It will never escape their incentives. It’s ultimately a centralized entity with a different label.
Know what you’re getting into…
— jack (@jack) December 21, 2021
This is laughable as someone who has one of the largest companies that have benefited from the so-called ‘Web2’ phase where companies extort data from their users for nothing in return. Even more so from a BTC and Lightning Network peddler who profits off the most ‘centralized’ digital currency that requires another one of his companies (Square *cough* I mean Block) to facilitate trade because it failed so miserably as a payment system on its own.
Dorsey’s business incentives aside, Web3 as currently presented may be captured as he describes. However, that is only possible if its adoption is small and does not scale. Ethereum currently facilitates the most Web3 applications to-date but has the issue of high gas-fees that have scaling solutions perpetually coming soon.
To really build out Web3 applications, a scalable blockchain with low-fees is required—especially if tokens and NFTs are thrown into the mix. To avoid the same capture that ‘Web2’ fell to, and Dorsey warns about, you need mass adoption to the degree that no group of VCs or heavy-handed regulation can nip in the bud. Which chain will fill that role? I hope to find out #soon.
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