Historically, networking technology like…the internet has followed the classic bell curve of adoption. The innovators, the early adopters, the majority and then everyone else. This next-generation, popularly known as Web3, is not any different. Or is it?
What is Web3
Web3 is not just about technology, it’s about ownership, a concept of ownership that is shaping the next generation of the Internet. It’s an evolution of the tools that have been the staples of the current internet, rethought and rebuilt from the ground up with a new set of principles in mind for the future of our interconnected world.
Do a handful of corporations own and dictate this future as they do today, or can it truly become a distributed and decentralized reality. No one really knows for sure and that creates an equal amount of risk and opportunity for entrepreneurs to build it.
15 – 20 years ago when companies like Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Amazon and Google had an open internet in front of them, they moved quickly to cement their position and product to capitalize on the opportunity. The race for the user base moved quickly, and then the monetization quickly followed. Web3 is the current term for a whole new horizon on what the internet is and the pillars of technology that support it. Some are calling it the metaverse.
You may have heard of these tech pillars and their various iterations – blockchain, crypto, smart contracts, NFT’s, hashes, legers, tokens, AI, DAOs, DeFi etc etc. The tenets of the tech are that it is ‘trustless’ – the network governs itself and no third party is required to be trusted. While also ‘permissionless’ – anyone can take part. The vocabulary and trends change frequently, but this underlying technology is evolving with access and tools for developers allowing them to build applications never thought possible. Still with ownership, connectivity, security, and transparency at their core.
Is it worth even trying to understand?
Discussion on the future of cryptocurrency markets will long go deep into the night, but regardless of opinion on speculative markets, the capital pouring into this idea is driving the rapid innovation of the technology supporting it. Some markets are already seeing the disruption and impact. Finance, gaming, art and software have all seen rapid innovation and large players making significant investments in various directions. The speed of this iteration is contributing to volatility and the risk aspect for investors and stakeholders to consider. However, as traction, adoption and understanding continue opportunities will be presenting themselves.
As with any emerging large technological shift, there is still a lot to be built. A robust decentralized digital infrastructure will be required and standards will need to be set. Whether hardcore decentralists like it or not, policy will need to be put in place to keep regulators happy and governments on side. It’s not just software that needs to be created either, the approach to hardware is set to change. Data centers are still going to be required, but we are all carrying around high-performance computers with ever-increasing storage capacity in our pockets. Don’t expect a completely distributed infrastructure overnight, but storing your own private data locally and selling it to providers is an idea closer than you think. Other hardware that is in a rapid development cycle, that will have some major winners, is the user interface piece. VR headsets, AR glasses and wearable tech are set to become gateways to the metaverse. While there is still a long way to go for VR on the adoption curve, you can’t deny the progress and the opportunities to come.
A layer up in the tech stack that is Web3 and the metaverse, the opportunities enabled by the blockchain and specifically smart contacts within Ethereum type technology are allowing users to own digital assets. Actually being able to prove a string or 0 and 1’s are yours and yours alone has sparked a wave of sub-economies. The trend in the current art market is making a lot of headlines and minting some next-gen digital artists, but it isn’t stopping there as recent game releases include in-game purchases to unique items as NFT’s and it’s set to become the norm.
It’s Here to Stay
Regardless of how far up the bell curve you think we are, Web3 is not a trend that is going to go away. It is the evolution of the internet that is happening whether we like it or not. The question becomes which pillars of tech powering it will prevail and will the big players be able to position themselves to protect their corner of it.
It is an exciting time full of opportunities for entrepreneurs and technologists alike.