What is Web3, and can it really change the internet?

What is Web3, and can it really change the internet?
Photo Credit: Pixabay
24 Dec, 2021

Of late, there have been lots of debates over what Web3 really is. Some of the biggest technology personalities in the world, most of whom have been vocal about endorsing cryptocurrencies, have collided in terms of how Web3 projects have developed -- calling each other out for a wide variety of reasons. Many have already endorsed Web3 as the future of the internet, while others have speculated on its hype. 

Why, though, is everyone talking about it? Is it really the future of the internet, as many have billed it to be? Most importantly, can it really give the power of the internet back to you, the user, from big tech corporations? 

What is Web3, really? 

Web3, or Web 3.0, is billed as the next iteration of the internet -- after Web 2.0. While the latter signifies a centralised internet model where most of the data, content and services are controlled by a handful of major internet companies commonly referred to as ‘Big Tech’, Web3 is a model that emphasises on ‘decentralisation’ of the internet. 

Web3 is derived largely on blockchain technologies, which uses a distributed network of servers and devices across which any data and service is hosted. This is largely different from central data servers that are today controlled by the world’s biggest internet corporations, namely Google, Microsoft, Amazon, Facebook and in some ways, even Apple. 

Are crypto and web3 the same thing? 

Not really. Cryptocurrencies are based on blockchain technologies, and refer to decentralised currencies that take away financial control and governance from central authorities. Web3, on the other hand, is the all-encompassing environment of the third generation of the internet -- of which cryptocurrencies are only one part. 

Also read: Five Indian web3 firms to watch out for in 2022

The reason why many cases have used crypto and Web3 as interchangeable terms is likely due to the increasing popularity of cryptocurrencies. The latter rose to limelight as a largely misconception of cryptocurrencies being a way to make a large amount of money in a short span of time -- which occurred due to sudden and meteoric surges in prices of Bitcoin and Ether, two of the world’s most popular cryptocurrencies. 

What role does Web3 play in the metaverse? 

Like cryptocurrencies, metaverse and Web3 are also often used as interchangeable terms -- when they are not really the same things. The metaverse, which has become a hot keyword after Mark Zuckerberg steered Facebook into the Meta umbrella, is conceptualised as a virtual world that uses virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), a host of internet of things (IoT) implementations, cryptocurrencies and non-fungible tokens (NFTs) collectively. 

However, metaverses are not necessarily intrinsic to Web3. Rather, the ethos of Web3 are being used by most developers of metaverse projects -- which showcase decentralised social platforms, NFT marketplaces and other such use cases to define the utility of virtual worlds such as metaverses. 

Is there a Web3 industry in India? 

Yes, there is. A burgeoning number of Web3 projects have been rising out of India, showcasing strong use cases of blockchain technologies, cryptocurrencies and decentralising the internet. Some of the most prominent ones include Polygon, Biconomy, KoineArth and more. 

A recent hackathon in India also brought to the fore a number of interesting Web3 projects such as Quark -- a virtual world where users can interact with each other and trade NFTs. 

Why are tech stalwarts fighting over Web3? 

Recently, Twitter founder Jack Dorsey hit out at venture capitalists (VCs), accusing them of pouring in money while looking at ways to centralise their grip on these “decentralised” projects. Similar opinions were also expressed by SpaceX and Tesla chief Elon Musk. 

Also read: 'India can be the leader in Web3 but needs a framework': Rajan Anandan

However, this did not bide well with a host of investors and technology personalities, such as Coinbase founder Brian Armstrong, and a16z founder Marc Andreessen. This has since sparked a war of opinions -- with a faction of crypto and Web3 enthusiasts siding with Dorsey to state that the levels of decentralisation in Web3 projects may not be adequate. 

The rest, however, have defended the need for investor backings to bring Web3 up to its potential.