A new adventure awaits.
Change comes in waves. Unavoidable and inevitable, the tides roll in and push us along, leaving humanity different in its wake. Technology has always been an accelerator of these currents, harnessing nature’s elements, improving health, and sharing knowledge are only a few of the things that have driven us as people and societies.
But not since the industrial revolution has a change been so significant as the internet, and each time it evolves, it churns up the waters all over again. Web3 is no different, creating whole new seas to be explored and plenty of adventure to be had by those stout-hearted. There is treasure to be found but where do you even begin to prepare for this new adventure?
We begin at the beginning.
Before you strive for fame and fortune in the world of Web3, let’s talk about what it is and how it is different from the previous versions of the Web.
In the beginning there was Web1, essentially a decentralized, read-only environment based primarily around utility to its origins in defense technology. But the promise of the connection it offered was obvious — a vision of a future where knowledge was shared openly, with everyone operating their own servers and owning their own small part of the internet.
As more and more people used the internet, however, it became clear that not all users wanted to be programmers, but they did want to use the web. So, it began to centralize around companies, services, and infrastructure that provided convenience and ease of use but were owned by larger and larger companies.
Web2 took shape around two main innovations: social networking and the democratization of content creation via smartphones. The internet transformed from a read-only environment to one filled to bursting with user-generated content on platforms like YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook, all too happy to take the content, the valuable user data, and make a fortune from it. In the end, the user content was being posted on rented land, and while some creators built vast and valuable audiences, it was all non-transferable and belonged to the platform.
That is how we got here, but where is here exactly?
Web3 is fundamentally a goal to create more ownership of the content and intellectual property created on the internet. To remove gatekeepers and redistribute wealth from big brands that dominate the web to individual creators — allowing a more equitable version of the web to flourish. To create this change, a foundation of technology and tools that have been rapidly developing need to be understood before setting off into this new world.
Web3 is fundamentally a goal to create more ownership of the content and intellectual property created on the internet.
Learn the language.
Blockchain is the fundamental underpinning of Web3. In many ways it is the land, the air, and the sea that creates this new version of the internet. The Blockchain is a public ledger that records a sequential history of transactions, connected and verified by Cryptography. The Blockchain is decentralized, transparent, and immutable, with information added to the chain and verified by the collective whole.
DAO stands for Decentralized Autonomous Organization, and is essentially a community-driven entity with no governing authority. It’s the highly skilled crew sailing the ship, making decisions together, without a captain. The rules are laid out transparently in a smart contract that lives on the blockchain and can be adjusted at any point as long as members agree. The members of the group are expected to act in its best interest and are rewarded equitably.
It’s the highly skilled crew sailing the ship, making decisions together, without a captain.
Cryptocurrency has been the most visible frontrunner of the Web3 world, with Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies creating a digital gold rush. These are virtual currencies that are verified on the blockchain and have an agreed-upon value by the community. With the hope to someday create a series of decentralized currencies, these coins have proliferated across Web3 with Ethereum becoming the most widely used and Bitcoin arguably the most famous.
Treasure comes in different forms. Coins are what fuel many Web3 projects. It can get a little confusing as to how each of the terms are used, many are interchangeable and create different end results. As an example, a Bitcoin is just that, a unit of a virtual currency, but there are also Coins created by communities to fund their work, and those give access to special features and places. These kinds of Coins are also called Tokens in some cases. Tokens work as digital access to communities, content, and special features, as long as you have it you can enter. As a community grows and the value of the cryptocurrency increases, it can be sold to allow someone else access to the community.
NFTs like Bored Apes, Crypto Punks, and Vee Friends are just a few of the collections of art that have been created as NFTs that have broken through to mainstream visibility. NFT, or Non-fungible tokens, are digital assets that are registered on the blockchain, creating essentially one-of-a-kind, unique assets. Initially, this technology was applied to digital art, and it created an art collecting frenzy.
But like everything in Web3, the evolution is happening extremely fast. Collecting for the sake of collecting is fading as the market is saturated with digital art. New NFT projects are built around utility. Additional content, community access, real-world value, and many other things have become key parts of any NFT project, and as these projects move to a utility focus, the application of NFTs is broadening to screenplays, startup record labels, and cause-driven charities making a change in the world.
If cryptocurrency and NFTs are the treasure of Web3, Wallets are the chest you lock them up in. They house all your digital assets, preferences, and profiles, and register them on the blockchain. While they are critical to the world of Web3, they are also one of the least user-friendly, and an area that is targeted by thieves.
Smart contracts are self-executing digital agreements created on the blockchain, which allow people to customize what they are selling and its long-term value. These are created openly, transparently, and without the use of a third party. A very common example would be an artist that sells an NFT can create a smart contract that allows them to receive a percentage of all future resales of their art. But a smart contract could really be applied in countless ways.
The Metaverse, is a term that went from being a staple of science fiction (the term was coined by author Neil Stephenson) and technology futurists to a mainstream discussion being talked about regularly by executives and media outlets. Facebook even went so far as to change its name to Meta. But what is it exactly?
The truth is it’s still a lot of things, and as it takes shape, the form it is in today will likely not be what it looks like even a year from now. One way to start to wrap your head around it is to think of it as a parallel virtual world that will eventually span all of our digital technologies and devices. It, in some ways, could be the next great horizon of the internet, built on but extending far past the new territories opened up by Web3.
“Their Flag Means Death”… to your valuable assets.
While there are a lot of incredible things happening with the technology surrounding Web3, it’s a new space, it’s completely unregulated, and there are those taking advantage of that. Whether it’s grifters launching projects built on false promises or hackers stealing literal fortunes from people’s wallets, these are risky waters we are about to sail into, and there is no one to rescue you should you run into trouble. Knowing and accepting the risk is an important part of starting this new adventure.
Paradise on Virtual Earth?
The answer is… maybe. While there is much to celebrate in Web3, there is also a ways to go before there is mass adoption and application of all the Web3 technology we have talked about. But make no mistake, it’s coming. There will be an evolution and likely some centralization to all this innovation as more and more smart people put it to work, but the foundational technology of Web3 isn’t going anywhere.
Now you know a little more about what is ahead, the risks and the rewards in these uncharted, rapidly expanding digital seas. There are already thousands of explorers out there right now supporting each other and building a new future together.
Are you ready to set sail? If you are, we’ll see you out there.
What areas of Web3 do you see as possibilities for your brand? Take five minutes and write down what your brand provides. Then begin mapping those services to Web3 technology and start daydreaming a little. How can it make things more efficient, extend your offering, or service your clients better?
Keep following along with our series of content as we take a deep dive into some of the major areas of innovation driving Web3, and how creators and brands are achieving great results by applying them already.