Is web3 one of those concepts that you have a vague idea about, but can’t completely wrap your head around? Worry no more – here's a shortcut for getting acquainted with it. Dig in!
To better understand web3, also known as web 3.0, let’s go back in the web’s history for a second:
Once upon a time, most of the websites that were built were static. Static means that all the web owners, developers and designers were in charge of writing and updating the content, and it kind of resembled a giant book – written, read and unchanged.
Right now, and for a long time, websites have been dynamic or social. Dynamic means that most of the content is entered by the users – think social networks and search engines, which have improved the experience in part, but have also led to debates around privacy and data sovereignty, paving the way for a more secure web: web3.
First of all, web3 is very much a work-in-progress and isn’t fully defined yet.
“In one part, web3 is the next generation of the web which will understand and interpret information to provide users with a much more enhanced and interactive experience. But it also represents a decentralisation of data that is moving power from tech giants into the hands of users.”
Many people hope that this will mean a fairer and more transparent internet, where blockchain technology is the enabler. In short, web3 is the term used to describe what people are creating using blockchains.
Nowadays, as you already know, massive amounts of personal data are owned by the largest and most profitable companies in the history of humanity. The big boys – such as Facebook, Google or Amazon – are centralised systems that own your data, whether or not you're happy for them to own it. Web3 wants to put an end to big companies keeping a monopolised ownership over your data by decentralising information.
By now, we have all either seen or experienced it – every day, lots of content is removed from different platforms, with no clear reason or with an evident bias towards a specific political party, movement or religion. You can literally have a lifetime of your work deleted, censored and/or labelled as “dangerous content” just because somebody doesn’t approve of your ideas, or your looks, or even for no reason at all.
Decentralizing the system could contribute to censorship being only decided by computer code and/or the community.
Decentralising the network has an added value in security because it no longer has a single point of failure. This means, for example, that it’s not that easy to hack anymore. Bitcoin is a good example of this, as to hack it would require hacking 51% of the network, based in countless locations across the planet.
It’s well known that a good 40% of a developer's job involves keeping up to date with the industry’s latest changes. What is coming up for us developers with web3? In a nutshell, there will be three things to be aware of: Metaverse, NFTs, and blockchain technology.
Blockchains are hot! And the industry has a crazy demand for more developers, so if you want to advance in your career and become a web3 developer, you need to learn how to program using blockchains. But what is it?
Blockchains are systems of recording information in an immutable way.
“To explain this simply, let's imagine you are chatting with your friends in a chat group. Previously, all that data would be stored and owned by one company or server – say Facebook. With Facebook owning the data, they can do whatever they want with it.”
If this data instead was distributed on a blockchain, these chat records would be spread out over a whole bunch of servers and computers all over the world. If you wanted to send a message to the group, enough of these computers and servers need to agree that you are who you say you are and that they all have the same version of the message you want to send. This means no one can pretend to be you or mess with the conversation. If they all agree, this message is written to the blockchain.
Amazing! But how do we run code on the blockchain? Smart contracts is how.
Smart contracts are used to actually program the blockchain. They are code deployed to the chain, written in a language that blockchain nodes can execute. Simply put, they are programs stored on a blockchain that run when predetermined conditions are met.
Smart contracts can nearly do everything, from fungible and non-fungible tokens to the backend of your next decentralized app. When coding with smart contracts, you use programming languages for the blockchain such as Solidity. Providing you are working in this industry, they'll make up a good portion of your future work, so you'll need to understand them well.
Let’s take a brief fantasy walk through the next era of the Internet where we can find ourselves immersed in a 3D multisensorial world – this is the Metaverse. The closest experience to the Metaverse that we know so far is video games, not only because they are 3D, but also because they offer features and services that are related to other aspects of our lives. For example, in the multiplayer game Fortnite, 12.3 million players took part in Travis Scott's virtual in-game music tour.
NFT is an acronym for non-fungible token. Tokens, as we know them now, can be exchanged for other tokens with the exact same value (think classic currency systems). But being “non-fungible” means that each piece is unique and has its own value.
A non-fungible token points to a unique piece of digital content, and when you buy one, the NFT acts as a certificate of authenticity for that content. This includes videos, GIFs, tweets, art, photographs, video games, virtual real estate, and more. NFTs are part of a blockchain, just like cryptocurrencies, which makes them immutable by nature, empowering this ownership.
This is also good news for you if you’re an artist as this is a new way to get your art out into the (digital) world and potentially make a profit!
Although web3 and the Metaverse are still not our everyday reality, we can clearly see it coming, as some of the most important companies in the industry are laying down the foundations (Hello Meta, ex Facebook!) So, what do you think about this upcoming era? Are you ready for it?