Welcome to Web 3.0: The next evolution of the internet

Welcome to Web 3.0: The next evolution of the internet

By Lachlan Feeney, Executive Director of Australia’s leading blockchain consultancy, Labrys

Few things are more indicative of technological innovation and evolution today than cryptocurrencies, NFTs (Non-fungible tokens) and the metaverse. Contrary to some beliefs, they’re far more than a digital novelty; they’re the most prominent use cases of a more significant and revolutionary technology: Web 3.0. As these technologies continue to establish themselves in contemporary society, they’re catalysing the growth of a new, democratised era of the internet.

The first iteration of the internet was categorised by static websites and blogs. It was revolutionary, but had many limitations, which were addressed through Web 2.0. Made up of social media and user-driven sites like Facebook and YouTube, Web 2.0 was defined by connectivity and sharing. However, as more people connected and existed online, the internet created incomprehensible amounts of data. In doing so, it created the current pitfalls and limitations associated with Web 2.0.

Today the online habits and personal information of billions of users are controlled by a monopoly of technology giants who collect and sell it for financial gain. It’s why in recent years data breaches have boomed in both regularity and severity, and created an environment whereby users have little control over their most sacred possession: their personal data. However, as blockchain continues to evolve and more individuals demand a more secure, interactive and democratised version of the internet, Web 3.0 is moving from theoretical concept to practical reality.

The democratised foundation of Web 3.0

To fulfil the promise of more transparency, interactivity and security, Web 3.0 must be built on a technology that has those traits inherently. That technology is blockchain, an incorruptible digital ledger used to record online transactions. Traditionally, blockchain facilitated financial transactions – hence the development of cryptocurrencies – but today it’s almost anything digital, including, for example, NFTs.

Blockchain is still a comparatively young technology, and we’ve only seen the tip of the iceberg in terms of its full potential. So far, though, that potential includes not only NFTs and cryptocurrencies, but practical business solutions that solve varied problems in any industry, and for any size organisation. Blockchain can reduce cost, boost transparency and trust and safeguard data. Crucially for Web 3.0, blockchain is decentralised. This means control is not from a central entity but a distributed network of users and computers. That means the weakness of Web 2.0 becomes the strength of Web 3.0. 

Welcome to Web 3.0

Through blockchain Web 3.0 will end big web monopolies and return power to individual internet users, ushering a new era of digital democracy. Without dependence on a traditional third-party intermediary like Facebook or Google, the internet becomes a collective, controlled by its users. All the data is presided over by a series of interconnected computers controlled by individual users. Through this democracy, it becomes harder for data to become a commodity to be harvested and sold for profit.

In Web 3.0, individuals have sovereignty over their own data. It’s theirs, as it should be. They’re free to enjoy the immense boundaries of the internet – from social media and news outlets to games and ecommerce stores – controlling their data, earning tokens and creating a public record on the blockchain. While it may sound like a futuristic – even abstract concept – so too did the first two iterations of the internet. As more people invest in cryptocurrencies, join the NFT hype, and explore the metaverse, Web 3.0 will become less conceptual and more real.

Feeling the benefits

Records stored on a blockchain are incorruptible, so they can’t be changed or altered. This means users can see how apps and websites are using their data and offers them more autonomy over how their data is used. Currently we have no insight into how websites collect, store and sell our data. Through cookies, we know it happens – we just have little-to-no way of preventing it.

Besides security and transparency, Web 3.0 will create an entire new level of interactivity. Users will participate more actively, essentially becoming as much a part-owner or shareholders as they are a customer. For example, they can tokenise activities and assets, like documents, achievements, games and artwork, creating an entirely new way for people to communicate using their intellectual property. When people feel part of something, they’re more engaged and inclined to make it a safe place that they, and potentially billions of co-owners or shareholders, can enjoy.

Will it change the internet as we know it?

Considering the scale and dominance of organisations like Meta (formerly Facebook), Google and Amazon, it’s unlikely that Web 3.0 will replace Web 2.0 overnight. However, there’s little doubt that these technology giants are weary about its potential to disrupt their stranglehold. They’re incredibly eager to be key players in it. Facebook’s rebrand to Meta and focus on the metaverse was significant, and the biggest public example of this. However, many Web 2.0 behemoths are assembling teams and strategies to specialise in Web 3.0.

They, like us, recognise Web 3.0 has the ability to harness everything that is great about the internet today, but without the undemocratic and dangerous flaws. The potential is still largely theoretical today, but as the technology is nurtured and use cases like cryptocurrencies and NFTs are adopted on a larger scale, Web 3.0 will begin to revolutionise how we access and enjoy the internet.