The Future of the Internet: Web3 and Why Developers Should Learn It
The internet we use now is a far cry from what it was just ten years ago! The progression of the internet has incorporated itself into many aspects of our daily lives. From work to school, personal lives, and beyond, we use the internet for nearly everything.
The internet is undoubtedly the most significant technological development in human history. Although the industry has progressed immensely since its inception, its possibilities are still getting realized.
Experts believe the internet of today resembles the automobile industry in 1920. The internet, much like the automobile of the time, is a game-changing technology that has been around for 20 years but is still immature and needs significant enhancements.
With that in mind, this article will explore the latest paradigm shift that the internet is undergoing: Web3. Specifically, this article will dive into what Web3 is, what it gets used for, and why up-and-coming developers should learn it.
There are a few key distinctions between Web2 and Web3 , but decentralization is at the heart of both.
Web3 , on the other hand, improves the internet as we know it today by adding a few innovative features. More specifically, Web3 is:
- Open: apps get created with open-source software developed by an open and accessible community of developers, and they are in full view of the public.
- Trustless: participants can interact publicly or privately on the network without the need for a trusted third party.
- Permissionless: without the approval of a governing body, anyone, including users and suppliers, can participate.
In Web3, developers rarely create and deploy apps that run on a single server or store their data in a single database, often hosted and managed by a single cloud provider. Alternatively, Web3 apps get built on blockchains, decentralized networks of numerous peer-to-peer nodes (servers), or a hybrid of the two, often called dApps or decentralized apps.
Developers are rewarded and compete to provide the highest quality services to everybody utilizing the service to establish a stable and secure decentralized network.
Furthermore, you will find that cryptocurrency gets mentioned when discussing Web3. This reoccurring mention is because many of these protocols rely heavily on cryptocurrencies. Thus, anyone wishing to develop, govern, contribute to or improve one of the projects has a financial incentive in the form of tokens.
These protocols may provide various services, such as computation, storage, bandwidth, identification, hosting, and other online services formerly offered by cloud providers.
People can earn a living by participating in the protocol in various ways, both technical and non-technical. On the other hand, consumers of the service typically pay to use the protocol, much like they would pay a cloud provider. Except in Web3, money is distributed directly to network participants or developers.
With this, as with many forms of decentralization, the unneeded and frequently wasteful intermediaries are eliminated.
Many web infrastructure protocols have produced utility tokens that dictate how the protocol runs, such as Filecoin, Livepeer, Arweave, and The Graph. Participants at all levels of the network get rewarded with these tokens. This reward system is how even native blockchain technologies like Ethereum work.
How Identity Works in Web3
Identity in Web3 functions differently today than it did in previous versions of the platform. Most of the time, IDs in Web3 apps are related to the person’s wallet address interacting with the app.
Unlike Web2 authentication techniques like “OAuth” or “email + password,” which almost invariably require users to hand over sensitive and personal information, Wallet addresses are fully anonymous unless the user chooses to link their own identity to it publicly deliberately.
Moreover, suppose a person uses the same wallet for numerous and different dApps. In that case, their identity and details can be smoothly transferred between them, allowing them to build up their reputation over time. Developers may already include self-sovereign identification into their apps using protocols and technologies like Ceramic and IDX to replace traditional authentication and identity layers.
In addition, the Ethereum Foundation has a working RFP for creating a specification for “Sign in with Ethereum ,” which would give a more simplified and documented way to do this in the future.
Indeed, Web3 holds great promise in creating applications that are truly open, trustless, and permissionless.
The Uses of Web3
While the Web2 wave continues to bear fruit, the world is now witnessing the first signs of growth from the next major paradigm change in online applications, aptly dubbed Web3.
Web3, also known as the Semantic Web and coined by Tim Berners-Lee, the Web’s original inventor, is an even more fundamental upheaval. One that will eventually cast all else into the shade. Indeed, the move to open, trustless, and permissionless networks is a significant step forward.
The ability to coordinate and incentivize the long tail of work, service, data, and content providers has become the disempowered backdrop to many of the world’s challenges. Some of these challenges include health, food, finance, and sustainability. Instability is the outcome of these new open, trustless, and permissionless networks.
It is also important to note that while the drive of Web2 was the arrival of mobile, social, and cloud, Web3 gets driven by the arrival of edge computing, decentralized data networks, and artificial intelligence.
While Web2 repurposed newly commoditized personal computer hardware in data centers, Web3 pushes the data center out to the periphery and often right into people’s hands. Large traditional data centers are getting augmented by a plethora of sophisticated computing resources distributed among phones, laptops, appliances, sensors, and cars. This is expected to produce and consume 160 times more data in 2025 than in 2010.
Decentralized data networks enable various data generators — from an individual’s health and wellness data to a farmer’s crop data, to a car’s position and performance data, and virtually any other data pertinent to each individual — to sell or trade their data without sacrificing ownership, privacy, or relying on third-party middlemen. As a result, decentralized data networks have the potential to include the entire long tail of data providers in the developing “data economy.”
Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning algorithms, without a doubt, have advanced to the point where they can generate helpful, even life-saving, predictions and actions. When built on top of new decentralized data structures that provide access to a wealth of data that would be the envy of today’s IT giants, the potential applications go far beyond targeted advertising into areas like precision materials, medication creation, and climate modeling.
Ultimately, Web3 paves the way for a future in which separated people and machines can interact with data, value, and other counterparties without the involvement of third parties. These capabilities are thanks to a peer-to-peer network substrate. The end product is a modular, human-centric, privacy-preserving computer fabric for the next web wave.
More specifically, here are two of the most effective uses of Web3:
Native, Built-in Payments
Tokens also enable a truly borderless and seamless native payment layer. Notably, companies such as Stripe and Paypal, for example, have generated billions of dollars in value by facilitating electronic payments.
However, these methods are extremely complicated, and they still do not allow for true international interoperability among participants. To use them, you must also provide over sensitive information and personal data.
Web3 applications, on the other hand, may use crypto wallets like MetaMask and Torus to make international payments and transactions simple, anonymous, and safe.
Networks like Solana offer latency in the hundreds of milliseconds, and transaction costs a fraction of a penny. Users do not have to go through numerous friction-filled procedures to engage with and participate in the network, as they do in the present financial system. They only need to download or install a wallet to begin sending and receiving payments without any restrictions and gatekeeping.
A Novel Approach to Business Formation
Tokens also facilitate tokenization and the establishment of a token economy . Consider the current status of establishing a software company. Someone has a great concept, but they will need money to sustain and support themselves to build it.
To get funding, they hire venture capitalists and give up a portion of the company. This investment immediately introduces misaligned incentives that will, in the long term, prevent the best user experience from being built.
Also, even if the company succeeds, it will take a long time for everyone to enjoy any value, resulting in years of labor with little actual return on investment.
Instead, imagine presenting a fresh and innovative idea that answers a real need. From the beginning, anyone can help construct it or invest in it. The corporation announces the release of a certain amount of tokens. The system will give 10% to early builders, 10% will get sold to the general public, and the remainder will compensate contributors and fund the project in the future.
Stakeholders can vote with their tokens on changes to the project’s future, and those who helped construct it can sell some of their holdings to profit after the tokens get distributed. People who believe in the initiative can buy and hold shares, while those who think it is heading in the wrong path can sell their shares.
Purchasers have complete transparency over what is happening because blockchain data is completely public and transparent. This option contrasts with purchasing stock in a private or centralized company, where many details usually get hidden.
Notably, this is already happening in the Web3 space.
Radicle , a decentralized GitHub alternative, is one example of an app that allows stakeholders to engage in project governance. Another is Gitcoin, allowing developers to get compensated in bitcoin for participating in and contributing to Open Source projects. Yearn will enable stakeholders to vote on proposals and participate in decision-making. Tokens are issued by Uniswap, SuperRare, The Graph, Audius, and a slew of other protocols and projects to enable ownership, participation, and governance.
Furthermore, DAOs (Decentralized Autonomous Organizations), which provide a different approach to establishing what people have previously and traditionally thought of as a corporation, is garnering a lot of traction and investment from traditional developers and venture capitalists.
These organizations get tokenized, and they turn the concept of organizational structure on its head by providing real, liquid, and equitable ownership. Ownership can then be distributed to a wider number of stakeholders and helps align incentives in novel and fascinating ways.
DAOs are too broad of a subject to fit entirely into this article, but for now, it is safe to say and believe that they are the future of building things and what people used to think of as businesses and companies.
Why Developers Should Learn Web3
The web has changed dramatically over the years, and its current applications are nearly unrecognizable from its early days. Learning Web3 is surely a crucial skill for developers to thrive and succeed in the coming years, given Web3’s ambition toward a genuinely decentralized internet.
For the web and beyond, decentralization has enormous potential. The ecosystem may get populated with developers by lowering the barrier to entry, resulting in a proliferation of original ideas, quick tool iteration, and high-quality products.
Indeed, data ownership and compensation are some of the most important implications of decentralization and blockchain technology. It is safe to assume that as we move toward Web3 and the technology that supports it matures and becomes scalable, the web will return to its original intent.
In conclusion, Web3 will create a more equitable internet by allowing individuals to be sovereign. True sovereignty entails controlling one’s time and information and being able to control who profits from it.
In the end, Web3’s decentralized blockchain protocol will allow individuals, particularly developers, to connect to an internet where they can own and be properly compensated for their time and data, overshadowing an exploitative and unlawful web where giant, centralized repositories get held and for profit.