A fashionable concept that is stirring both the tech sphere and the communicators, the “web3” is presented by its supporters as the new version of the Internet, more decentralized and based on the “blockchain”, the technology behind NFTs and cryptocurrencies.
“It seems more like a marketing expression than a reality at the moment,” carmaker Tesla boss Elon Musk, however, criticized the all-encompassing nature of the “web3” in late December, as did other popular concepts such as the metaverse. Try to explain it.
† What evolution of the internet does the “web3” embodies?
The “web3” would be the third era in the history of the Internet, the successor, according to its proponents, of Web 1.0, which reigned from the early 1990s to the mid-2000s, and of Web 2.0, hegemony since the 2010 decade.
Embodied by actors such as Yahoo! or AOL, Web 1.0 refers to the first use of the Internet with its static pages through which information can mainly be consulted or the sending of emails.
Web 2.0 marks the era of the social and interactive Internet, where users can produce and distribute multimedia content. It sanctifies the rule of a handful of major centralized platforms such as Google, Amazon or Facebook.
A concept attributed to Gavin Wood, co-founder of the Ethereum “blockchain”, “web3” refers to the idea of a decentralized internet, where users would manage their own data, without the help of intermediaries.
Au chiffre trois (“three” en anglais) s’ajoute ainsi le sens de “free” (“libre”), évoquant le retour d’un internet plus indépendant des Etats comme des géants du net, comme ce fut le cas à l ‘origin.
Which technology makes this evolution possible?
The “web3” is closely linked to the technology of the “blockchain”, a kind of huge digital register shared by a large number of users, without central authority and considered non-falsifiable, in which the entire history of transactions is recorded.
Born after the 2008 financial crisis, the most well-known “blockchain” is Bitcoin and its cryptocurrency, which is completely virtual. Many others have been launched since then, such as Ethereum, Solana or Polygon.
It is on these “blockchains” that projects and applications labeled “web3” are based, such as non-fungible tokens (NFT), non-reproducible digital certificates of authenticity that derive their value from the real or virtual object to which they are linked. .
Enough to give the internet user as much decision-making power as ownership over what he creates or consumes on the network.
“With the +web3+, people create value, but they also capture part of it, which changes everything for artists, for example. It’s a web that belongs to them, where they take control of the creation and what ‘they own’, explains AFP Nicolas Julia, founder of Sorare, a French start-up of online game exchanges of vignettes in the form of NFT.
“That will make it possible to reinvent a whole range of industries, be it art, music or sports,” he adds.
Is the metaverse part of “web3”?
Although they are connected, especially through the technology of “blockchain” and the ability to store digital assets such as NFTs in them, “web3” and metaverse describe two different concepts.
The metaverse, propelled to the front of the stage in the summer of 2021, denotes a digital and social universe, which should expand physical reality through augmented or virtual reality and move the internet from 2D to 3D.
Is the promise enough to merge it with the ‘web3 revolution’, while the metaverse is mainly carried by Meta (Facebook), one of the flagship companies of Web 2.0 and symbol of a centralized vision of the Internet?
“The answer will be given in a few years, because today, the + web3 +, we still don’t know what it is,” Julien Pilot, specialist in digital and cultural industries, summarizes with AFP.
“Either we’re on the purist vision” of a fully decentralized internet, or on a definition based solely on “the ability to immerse,” he adds, predicting “an inevitable controversy” in the future between the two visions. .