What is Web 3.0?
And what Tech Startup Founders need to know
Web 3.0 is a concept that was introduced by Tim O’Reilly in 2005 for describing an evolution in the way the Web functions. The concept has evolved since its introduction, but the core idea is that Web 3.0 is about data, not documents. It’s about using the power of P2P networks to distribute and share data and services, rather than relying on a central server to provide them.
For example, imagine you are traveling overseas and you need directions to a city you are visiting. You can type in your destination into Google Maps and get directions or search for local businesses and get reviews of each one from Yelp or TripAdvisor.
In both of these examples, you are using a centralized service provider to get information that would be much more useful if it were available directly from other people who had been there before you or lived nearby who might have better recommendations for where to eat or stay than an algorithm which can’t measure these things as well as a human could.
Web 3.0 would allow this data to be shared directly between peers on P2P networks where it could be verified and trusted without reliance on a central authority to publish it or vouch for its validity.
How is this related to blockchain?
The key technology that enables Web 3.0 is blockchain technology because it allows us to create decentralized ledgers of transactions which can be shared among many different parties without relying on any central authority to oversee them or verify their accuracy.
The vision for Web 3.0 is a world where we don’t have centralized trust entities like eBay or Facebook: instead we have peer-to-peer networks of computers which agree upon facts with no central authority involved in verifying them at all, as long as they follow the rules programmed into the blockchain itself.
The goal is for sites like Facebook which require us all to trust them with our personal information not just because they make the best UI but because they own our data and they won’t let anyone else use it unless we pay them money every month (and even then what if they screw up?) would become obsolete because we could all keep track of our own interactions with each other without needing to rely on anyone else for verification — at least not until your friends start making bad recommendations and you want to un-friend them.
Why does this matter?
The concept of Web 3.0 has been around for over a decade now, and it’s not clear how much progress has actually been made toward achieving it. Blockchain is still in its early days, but it’s also moving more quickly than the Web 3.0 concept, making it seem more plausible that this technology will make some kind of contribution to the future of the Web.
That said, blockchain today is not “Web 3.0” — blockchains are still being used primarily for cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum rather than for enabling new kinds of data sharing on P2P networks.
However, there are plenty of companies working on blockchain-based services to use these technologies for things like online identity management or peer-to-peer advertising which could contribute to a more decentralized and less centralized version of the Internet we know today.
What do Startup Founders need to know?
Startup founders should be aware of the concept of Web 3.0 because it may influence how people make decisions about the adoption of blockchain technology in the future.
The idea of centralized trust entities like Facebook being replaced by a decentralized, peer-to-peer network is not a new one — people have been talking about it for over a decade now.
The difference is that blockchain has created a way to make peer-to-peer networks possible in ways that weren’t previously feasible (like Bitcoin) while also making it easier to ensure that data on these networks is accurate and trustworthy in ways which are less likely to be prone to manipulation by a centralized party (e.g., “51% attacks”).
In order for Web 3.0 to take off, there will need to be some kind of killer app that makes this kind of data sharing worthwhile for people who would otherwise rely on central authorities like Facebook or Google for verification. It’s not clear yet what this killer app might look like, but there are many companies working on different pieces of it and we may see significant advances in this space over the next few years.
About the Author
I am the Founder of Cudy Technologies (www.cudy.co), a full-stack EdTech startup helping teachers and students teach and learn better. I am also a mentor and angel investor in other Startups of my other interests (Proptech, Fintech, HRtech, Ride-hailing, C2C marketplaces and SaaS). You can also find me on Cudy for early-stage Startup Founder mentorship and advice.
You can connect with me on Linkedin (https://www.linkedin.com/in/alexanderlhk) and let me know that you are a reader of my Medium posts in your invitation message.