By James Beck @ConsenSys
Compile: 0x13, Kxp @BlockBeats
The new term Web3 was born in 2014. At the beginning, it was used to describe a new type of protocol that achieves decentralized consensus. Today, it has become a general term for public chain ecology, applications and even design concepts. Like the philosophical question “Who am I?”, the question ” What is Web3? ” has many people’s answers, and it seems that everyone’s answer is different. However, for some people, this new term may feel unfamiliar to them, so we wrote this article to explain the 9 things people need to know about Web3 , hoping to help people understand what Web3 is :
- Web3 is the trendy nickname for the decentralized web.
- Web1 reads only information, Web2 reads + writes information, and Web3 reads, writes & owns information.
- Web3 is the monetary layer of the Internet.
- Web3 is the identity layer of the Internet.
- Web3 is a response to social networks not keeping our data safe and selling user data for profit.
- Web3 is a way for artists and creators to own not only what they create on the platform, but the platform itself.
- Web3 is the new incentive model of the Internet.
- Web3 makes it easy to establish cooperative ownership and governance structures.
- Web3 is still not fully decentralized.
Web3 is the trendy nickname for the decentralized web
Since 2015, ConsenSys founder and CEO Joseph Lubin has been giving talks, writing articles, and supporting teams building Web3 and the decentralized web. The Web3 philosophy has been the “touchstone” that guides all of ConsenSys’ early investments and projects.
MetaMask is now the primary way to get people onboard to use the Ethereum blockchain, with more networks on the way. It’s a way to securely generate a public key on your phone or computer, but it embodies a new principle in how users interact with the web – only you can access your accounts and data, and choose what to share, what to hide. Some people also call MetaMask the Crypto version of the consent manager (customer authorization manager).
When we refer to the decentralized web, we also refer to decentralized currencies and other stacks beyond identity. Other aspects of the decentralized web, such as decentralized storage are just becoming the infrastructure of the stack for persistent storage (like IPFS and Arweave), decentralized storage (Golem, W3BCloud and others), and decentralized data indexing (Graph Protocol).
Right now, Web3 is the track most followed by a16z and other big VCs, and it’s also full of lengthy discussions on Twitter, and many people who don’t understand Web3 are still mocking and mocking it. And it is foreseeable that in the future, when Web3 takes up more voice in the discussion of the public Internet, at that time, those who laugh at Web3 will go back and learn what Web3 is.
Web1 read only information, Web2 read + write information, Web3 read, write & own information
When I asked a Web3 developer friend how he would explain Web3, he said “Web1 is read-only, Web2 is read-write, Web3 is read-write-own”. The original Web was built on open source protocols like TCP, IP, SMTP, and of course HTTP. A protocol is a standard way for multiple computers to agree to communicate with each other. These underlying protocols govern the flow of information and information on the Internet, and if you want to build an application or service using their rules, you don’t have to pay for access.
Web2 is an iterative product built using free open source protocols on the Internet. Compared to the static, read-only Web1, Web2 brought about a major shift in the ability of individual users to publish content to the Internet. It started with likes on Digg’s message boards, then developed Weibo, and now has more than 2 billion individual users on Facebook. At the same time, another subtle shift is quietly taking place. People are starting to feel that instead of maintaining their own servers to keep their websites running, they should leave the hassle to Web2 companies. On the other side of the deal, Web2 has also created an island of user data and behavior, a social graph that is valuable to advertisers. In the age of Web2, the individual user is the product.
Web3 ownership means that the builders, operators and users of the platform do own a portion of what they use. Bitcoin and Ethereum are the earliest examples: ETH and BTC are actually in return for honestly keeping the ledger up to date and other contributors who keep the network secure by doing what they do. Token-based networks built on Ethereum and blockchain even introduce new ownership models that are not necessarily the same as cooperative or shareholder equity models. For example, ownership can be in the form of tokens, which you earn when you provide a service, such as providing liquidity for transactions or voting on governance for the future development of the network. The grander vision is that participants in any network will be able to “own” a portion of the products and services they use every day.
Web3 is the currency layer of the Internet
One of the greatest innovations of the Internet was the ability for information to be distributed on a global scale, cheap, replicable, and plentiful. But these labels are the antithesis of “value,” by definition, anything of value, whether money or an asset, should be scarce and hard to come by. Bitcoin was the first protocol to introduce scarcity into the Internet, and to some extent solved the “double-spending” problem that plagued early Crypto currency attempts. Double spending means that you can use duplicate Crypto currency to spend in two or more places at the same time. In traditional finance, banks, credit card companies, and payment processors self-validate transactions to minimize double-spending. For decentralized Crypto, the job of the miners or validators is to ensure that accounts do not double spend. This has profound implications, as verification no longer relies on a trusted central party. Anyone with an internet connection can participate in the peer-to-peer network and check the ledger. Social consensus protects people from bad actors trying to roll back or censor transactions.
Another manifestation of scarcity is whether it is homogenization, that is, whether a single unit is arbitrarily interchangeable, and arbitrary interchange means that you can replace this one unit with another because they have the same value. For example, 1 ETH is worth 1 ETH, while non-homogenization means uniqueness. The emergence of NFT has made some things that could not be owned become possible, such as Crypto art, photos, music, text, game assets, certificates, governance rights, passports and so on. And what many people question is, “If I can right-click and save it on the computer, why is it scarce?” The reason is that the blockchain records the process of transferring ownership from one account to another. And this also gives a Crypto artist or virtual product the concept of being “original,” like the fundamental problem that blockchain solves, preventing another person from claiming to be its owner or “double-spending.” One of the reasons many people are excited about NFTs as a way to prove the provenance of Crypto assets is that since they are tokens on Ethereum (there are many NFTs on other blockchains now), they are interoperable with the rest of the Web3 ecosystem . They can be divided into smaller pieces, so many people can own them; they can serve as collateral for other decentralized financial services; they have perpetual royalties; and they can even serve as the basis for internet identities.
Web3 is the identity layer of the internet
One of the biggest omissions in the early internet protocols was that there was no public and open source identity layer. As Web2 grew, platforms such as Facebook and Twitter monopolized this layer as closed-source applications. And Web3’s stance is that you should have your identity online, and only disclose some information when you want to. In practice, Ethereum’s identity system is very basic. You can think of it as a container that allows other projects to associate with it. For example, when an authority wants to know your date and place of birth, it doesn’t need to know other information that you don’t want to provide. Your identity will also include your transaction history, which financial institutions can learn without requiring you to provide your birthdate and place of birth. Furthermore, the Crypto identity you develop on one social network can be ported to other networks.
In today’s practical scenarios, the closest thing the Web3 world has to a universal identity layer is the Ethereum Domain Name Service (ENS). With ENS, you can buy a unique domain name that is an NFT using the ERC-721 Token standard, which you can then link to your Ethereum address. ENS made Ethereum addresses readable, and it was later used as a more convenient way to airdrop NFTs, show off token holdings or NFT holdings, and show what you chose in governance voting. Showing to others that you “know” Web3 is actually an attractive thing, which is probably why Paris Hilton, Shaquille O’Neal, and others have all changed their Twitter usernames to ENS domains. However, like the early Internet protocols, ENS has no early investors and the protocol itself is decentralized and given open standards.
3Box Labs’ other services like IDX and Self.ID allow you to link your wallet and manage your Crypto identity. You can connect your Ethereum address, existing social media profiles, and other information you want to make public. Like ENS, but more meaningfully, people can automatically choose what information and data to share from their personal identities when they sign up for a new service or platform. Currently, what drives people to use blockchain Crypto identities still come from the Web3 world, such as linking your Ethereum address to your social profile, but the long-term goal of the Web3 world is to enable real-world Identity is also proven on-chain.
Web3 is a response to the fact that social networks do not protect our data security, but instead seek benefits from it
Facebook owns most of the data on your social graph, so even if you close the page, the data remains on Meta’s servers. Gavin Wood, the inventor of the term Web3, said in 2014: “Web 3.0, or the ‘post-Snowden’ network, is a rethinking of current network activities and provides A disruptive model has been introduced by the parties. If we decide some information needs to be made public, we publish it, and if we feel that some information needs to be negotiated to reach a consensus, we put it on the to-be-negotiated list. “The Cambridge Analytica scandal in 2018 revealed that a company that collected the personal information of 87 million people and used it to create a voter’s psychological profile, so as to sway election results. While it made headlines at the time, data breaches of this type are not uncommon, affecting millions of internet users. The reason for all this is simply that we entrust companies to store our data, and when we switch to other platform services later, those permissions are already irrevocable.
Remember when we described MetaMask as a Crypto version of the consent manager? Web3 apps are designed on the principle that information is “pushed” by individuals to trusted sources, not by apps from sources that hold your data. For example, in the Web2 world, when you “sign in with Google”, apps may access your personally identifiable data without your consent. The transparency of the data you provide to different applications on the web is one of the reasons why social media networks have gained dominance – your personal information is often of high value, and in most cases we are agreeing to the platform terms of service At that moment, it was already handed over.
Web3 can be said to be a response to the continuous acquisition of user information by today’s Internet platforms. With Web3, users can independently choose what information to share or hide.
Web3 allows artists and creators to own not only their work on the platform, but the platform itself
In 2021, everyone seems to be launching NFTs. Data from DappRadar shows that the total transaction volume of NFTs in 2021 will reach more than $23 billion. For many Crypto artists, the advent of NFTs has allowed for the first time a true full-time commitment to art. Since NFTs are a common token format, you can mint NFTs by deploying your own code or using the NFT marketplace. Unlike Web2 social networks, your tokens can be purchased on service platforms, sold on secondary markets, or used in other games and applications. In other words, NFT continues the characteristics of Ethereum and is a kind of portable and interoperable value.
Some early NFT markets quickly realized that their positioning could not be just a market, but to build more bridges between creators, users and platforms. In 2021, SuperRare released the RARE Governance Token and created the SuperRare DAO to reward those artists and collectors who joined early, and thereby encourage community participation in its art curation. SuperRare explained: “We want Spaces to be the future of community art curation, an active ecosystem where curators, artist groups, galleries and community members can hire artists and conduct collaborative auctions, powered by SuperRare’s shared brand and technology. system.”
Other applications on Ethereum are now using tokens to reward people for their contributions to network building and decision management. Even Web2 social networks like Reddit are exploring the use of tokens called “community points” to allow active contributors on subreddit to “own” part of the social network; and DeFi protocols like Uniswap build a A reconciliation mechanism that incentivizes liquidity providers to provide capital for transactions of almost any asset on Ethereum.
Perhaps the greatest threat to the Web2 social network effect is the benefit of individuals having collective staking across multiple service platforms across the web. Scott Belsky once asked, “If every stakeholder in these businesses could be incentivized to help build, improve, promote and sponsor these brands, would that be an advantage over the larger corporations?”
Web3 is the internet’s new sponsorship model
The term “creator economy” is a term used to describe the internet space that aims to help creators monetize in new ways. OnlyFans, Twitch and other platforms promise platform users to make money directly from their fans without restrictions, instead of relying on advertising and traffic-centric monetization models. Unlike the Web3 network, however, some creators are randomly removed from the network and cannot own the content they share.
For writers and journalists, the drive to make money directly from their readers has been further strengthened by the emergence of platforms such as Substack, Ghost, and Lede over the past year. None of these platforms, however, allow writers to use ownership to create a direct relationship with their fans. Mirror is a Web3 blogging network that allows users to sell their work as NFTs and redefines the creation and sponsorship model through “crowdfunding”. The crowdfunding feature allows patrons to fund an idea by depositing ETH in exchange for a token that proves your sponsorship, which in turn can be further used to join the DAO or earn future rewards for publications. Tokens are not only useful, they can also prove that you have supported an idea or author, and as more and more people support crowdfunding, the value of Tokens will become higher and higher. As New Yorker contributing writer Kyle Chayka, who uses Mirror to fund Dirt.xyz, said: “Subscription is certainly a sustainable business model for many forms of media, but it’s not necessarily suitable for all forms of content or work, but collectors and patrons are a good fit for this model. NFTs can provide support for collector and patron relationships, and the same is true for various tokens supported by Mirror, such as ESSAY or Emily Segal’s NOVEL. I hope that in the future Creators can rely on tokens and NFTs to make money, not just readers or regular payments, and their article revenue should also be shared by creators and patrons.”
Now that fungible or non-fungible tokens can play a role in patron-artist relationships, artists should also be able to connect directly with their early A collection of Ethereum addresses or ENS names for the payment system, whichever platform artists can use to interact with their fans.
Web3 makes it easier to build cooperative governance and ownership structures
If you joined any DAOs in 2021, you may have joined Telegram or Discord groups with other strangers: vote on DeFi governance proposals, make decisions on project funding, get tickets to Erykah Badu concerts; join artists A residency program with the developer, a collective purchase of the only backup copy of Wu-Tang Clan’s 2015 album Once Upon a Time in Shaolin, and even a joint venture to buy a print copy of the U.S. Constitution.
A DAO, or “Decentralized Autonomous Organization,” is a community-led entity that uses Ethereum smart contracts to establish ground rules and enforce agreed-upon decisions. Some of the largest and earliest DAOs in Ethereum manage the growing coffers of decentralized finance protocols. At present, the top 20 DAOs have mastered nearly $10.5 billion worth of Crypto assets.
DAOs not only serve DeFi, but many other areas as well. Media outlets like Bankless, as well as public funds like Gitcoin, are using DAOs to coordinate, govern, and manage their financial activities. Currently, there are over 1.3 million DAO Token holders in Web3. A New York Times reporter once quipped that DAOs are “chat rooms with bank accounts.” The appeal of Web3, though, is that it can quickly bring together leaderless online groups of like-minded individuals to pool capital and make decisions together.
Not every layer of Web3 is decentralized
As any seasoned user of the Web3 ecosystem knows, engineers are constantly trying to build the most decentralized architecture, easy-to-use applications, and scalable infrastructure, with various design tradeoffs in between. Moxie Marlinspike, the founder of Signal, recently wrote in his blog about his Web3 explorations: “Web1 is built on the premise that everyone on the Internet becomes a publisher and consumer of content, as well as a publisher and a publisher of infrastructure. Consumers. We’ll all have our own web server, our own website, our own mail server, our own e-mail. However, that’s not really what people want – people don’t want to run their own servers (I think This point cannot be overemphasized).”
He shouldn’t be too surprised, then, to learn that most of Ethereum’s applications call data from trusted API sources, and that the US runs 40% of Ethereum’s 5,433 full nodes. MetaMask made a similar design decision in the early years – instead of requiring every user to run a self-hosted Ethereum node, they chose to use Infura to provide data for Ethereum. This way, developers can focus more on building the application rather than the infrastructure that runs the network. Dan Finlay, founder of MetaMask, wrote: “This approach makes it easier for users to use our platform without consuming too much power to host nodes. At the same time, it also changes the way the platform is used and promoted. The rules, exactly what Moxie said before: “People don’t want to host their own servers (because it would take up an entire laptop’s computer capacity).”
However, this does not mean that the Ethereum and Web3 communities are still considering using a decentralized data center such as W3BCloud, or transferring lightweight clients to Eth2 through a series of operations to reduce trust at all levels. While MetaMask uses Infura as their default server, they have always allowed users to choose their own blockchain connection. Additionally, with Snaps, users can choose alternatives to connecting their wallets with a server. Dan Finlay explained, “Snap can help users run lightweight clients, choose alternative runtimes like zk-STARK chains or new friendly languages, or it can also connect users to their favorite centralized service platform.”
While many teams in the Ethereum community are working to improve centralization, the success of some newer, more centralized Crypto networks suggests that users may not care too much about these things. However, we cannot therefore assert that the Web3 infrastructure will not see further development in the future, as more and more people are already experiencing the advantages of a fully decentralized web.