Scott Wassmer, General Manager of the Americas – Appnovation.
Web3 is the latest buzzword in the digital world, but most believe it to be synonymous with the metaverse and NFTs. This common misconception exists because the terms seem to be intrinsically linked when there is a discussion about any of them. However, Web3 is so much more than the metaverse, and it’s getting closer and closer to the original vision for the Internet than it’s ever been since its inception.
Before we break down essential technical terms, let’s refresh the history and dig deeper into the impact Web3 will have on businesses.
Founded in 1989, Web 1.0 primarily focused on centralized technology infrastructures that delivered static website content. It was considered by most to be an information delivery system. That’s why companies like Yahoo, Google and Amazon were born to help people search all content and deliver what was most relevant to each individual.
Web 2.0, the name coined by Tim O’Reilly in 2004, was the beginning of the cloud-based infrastructure that enabled dynamic content and user input. The biggest influence of Web 2.0 was the introduction of social networks and the rise of companies such as Facebook, Twitter, Youtube and Instagram.
Web3, as the name implies, is the third generation or evolution of the world wide web. It is also the closest evolution to the original vision Tim Berners-Lee, the creator of the web, had for it. The previous iterations of the web, versions 1.0 and 2.0, were marked by major shifts in the technology used to deploy content and applications online. The term Web3 was coined in 2014 by Gavin Wood, one of the co-founders of Ethereum, to emphasize the modern use of blockchain-based distributed services, creating a more decentralized peer-to-peer network. It is considered to be the introduction of semantic content to the World Wide Web, where technologies such as AI, rather than humans, will be able to do most of the heavy lifting. As a result, the metaverse has a chance to thrive and potentially take over the role that social media takes today.
Technical terms you should know
For those of you who are just starting to get a strong sense of how far the metaverse Web3 extends, there are a lot of terms here that are probably new. Let’s take a moment to define some terms that you will hear about more often.
Blockchain is a system where transaction data is kept in a ledger or database that is shared in a peer-to-peer network. Most people think of blockchain as the ledger that controls cryptocurrency. While cryptocurrency is its main popular use, blockchain is used for everything from legal contracts and state identifications to corporate product inventories.
• Semantic technology
Semantic technology is the next step in data technology, where the meaning of the data becomes as relevant as the structure. It uses formal semantics to give meaning to data in a way that enables technologies such as artificial intelligence to understand and work with data in a way similar to how humans think.
• Artificial Intelligence (AI)
AI is the movement towards human-like intelligence through machine processing, and it should not be confused with computers becoming self-aware. The most advanced and widely used type of AI actually works on the principle that machines will have: limited memory and will be able to respond and learn the same way people do based on the information they receive.
Why should companies be concerned?
There are many more terms that will become more relevant to everyone as we move forward with Web3, but it’s important to think about the business changes that will take place in the next decade of this evolution. While it’s impossible to fully predict the future, there are some very obvious changes that are likely to happen.
1. Blockchain will be able to streamline business processes by enabling secure exchange of information between different parties. This can already be seen in some financial transactions. However, it should eventually expand across entire supply chains and all parts of businesses where tracking and validation is required.
2. Semantic technologies will affect anything that requires research or information searching. The ability to see information based on context rather than just data will dramatically reduce the time it takes to complete any task that requires sifting through piles of information.
3. Artificial intelligence reduces the time it takes to solve complex problems. It will also systematically make repetitive processes easier and less people-oriented.
4. There will be a shift in the skills that companies find most valuable in their employees. Not only will this be another paradigm shift in the expectations of technology-based workers, but it will also require business leaders to understand changing technologies and how to help their business in the long run.
Like the social media revolution, Web3 will change the way businesses communicate and share information between each other and between themselves and their consumers. Web3 is already spreading in the digital landscape: cryptocurrency is disrupting the financial status quo, the metaverse is disrupting social engagement, and NFTs are infiltrating industries such as fashion and art.
The next wave of technology now known as Web3 is already beginning to be a part of society, not unlike the way Web 2.0 slowly crept on us and became part of our daily lives. Like the web evolutions that preceded it, Web3 will take time to be adopted; organizations that quickly come to terms with it will be successful in the long run. For now, the most important thing is to understand what it is so that we envision and prepare for the best possible future.