The Web 3.0 wave is coming. Is your business ready?
As I begin this article on the topic of Web 3.0, my father and son come to mind. Have you ever noticed how each generation believes that they are smarter than the previous one? I, for one, am certainly guilty of that fallacy. My father owned a successful commercial real estate business in Atlanta for over 50 years and never touched a computer in his life. His office had more file cabinets than Google has servers. His rolodex sat on top of his desk. His phone had a cord. When I founded DEEPBLUE back in 1999 I tried to explain to him what it was we were doing. I even built a website for him. He never got it. He could never grasp the concept. His business was dirt. Very simple. We all need land to live on and work on. Land is a finite commodity. As land becomes more limited, demand increases. Appreciation. Upon this land you build buildings and rent out the space to other businesses. With appreciation and recurring revenue, you have a proven business model.
My younger self: Y-a-w-n.
Fast forward to today. I have a son, Cameron, who is a senior in college. He is the President of the Collegiate Entrepreneurs Organization (CEO) and was active with Distributive Education Clubs of America (DECA) when he was in high school and even founded Future Advancement Through Entrepreneurship (FATE). As far back as I can remember, he wanted to be an entrepreneur. I’m not sure that he fully understood the concept and what goes into building a business, but he looked at Steve Jobs and Elon Musk and decided that he was next in line. Cameron likes to let me know about all the new buzz terms, acronyms and the modern vernacular that will transform the world in the years to come. He loves to discuss crypto, blockchain and Nonfungible tokens (NFTs), all part of the toolkit that is referred to as Web 3.0. Often, I simply nod my head in agreement, as if I am actually following the conversation. In truth, I had absolutely no idea what he was talking about and make a mental note to Google it when i get a moment.
When I tried to bring Cameron back down to modern day Earth, I discussed my business model and what made us successful. DEEPBLUE was founded on brand strategy and web design, with search engine marketing (SEM) and social marketing joining the suite in later years. To me, these services have a clear value proposition. For an organization to be successful, it needs a powerful identity that people will remember, a professional website in order to establish a strong online presence and a way to market itself to its target audience.
The recognition of this Universal evolution between generations, and admitted embarrassment by the oneup-manship from my son, led me to put in the time to research and try to understand the origins, concepts, utilities and applications of Web 3.0. This blog was written for people like me that wish to learn about Web 3.0 and why it matters to their business.
Welcome to a basic and layman’s introduction.
A Beginners Guide to Web 3.0
Web 3.0 (also referred to as Web3) is the third generation of web technologies. The web, also known as the World Wide Web, is the visual interface of the Internet, an interconnected system of computers that provide website and application services around the globe.
Web 3.0 is the emerging future vision of the internet based on public blockchains, a system of record-keeping that is best known for empowering cryptocurrency transactions. Today, most websites and applications use some form of centralized database to deliver data and help to enable functionality. What makes Web 3.0 so attractive is that it is decentralized. Instead of dependency on companies like Facebook, Google or Apple, users will access the Internet using services that they own and govern themselves.
Web 3.0 is the Successor to Web 2.0, Which is the Successor to Web 1.0
In 1989, Tim Berners-Lee invented the World Wide Web, which is now referred to retrospectively as Web 1.0. This first generation web provided us with dial-up access to basic websites that delivered content using hypertext mark-up language (HTML). HTML is basically an interconnection of static web pages built on a file system using a web browser. First-gen websites offered limited interaction and capabilities and were not database-driven. They are basically online brochures, but they were new and cool.
Web 2.0 was coined in 2004 and is the current iteration of the world wide web. It refers to more advanced websites and applications that allow for user-generated content by end users. A Web 2.0 website can be looked at as a dramatic improvement of interaction and usability over its Web 1.0 elders. Social media and the mobile web were introduced during this era, allowing users greater access to information than ever before, no matter where they were or what type of device they were using. A later significant enhancement to Web 2.0 is Responsive Web Design, which allows a single website to adapt itself to the screen size, device and orientation of each user, creating an optimal UX for desktops, tablets and smartphones.
Technology and Security Advances
With Web 3.0, a person does not require permission to access services, nor are they bound by the rules of central authorities. When Twitter banned the New York Post, they exerted their authority as a central authority given that they owned the platform and enforced their house rules. This will not happen in a Web 3.0 society. Another benefit of Web 3.0 is that it does not require an intermediary for online transactions to occur between parties. When you consider that these established intermediaries are collecting data on you with you even knowing, Web 3.0 will protect your privacy better than current platforms. Web 3.0 will also make use of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning to help facilitate more adaptive and intelligent applications. An AI-powered web will introduce human-like virtual assistants, an element that is already emerging today with chatbots and phone applications such as Alexa and Siri. Another aspect of Web 3.0 is the notion of a semantic web, which is the integration of semantic technology into the web (read W3C article on this concept).
In summary, Web 3.0 is the next generation of the web that will provide us with more freedom, less restrictions and greater user protections using emerging technologies.
With its foundation built on blockchain, Web 3.0 will enable an entirely new set of technology applications to emerge. Here are just a few applications that will define the zeitgeist of the Web 3.0 generation:
- NFT. Nonfungible tokens (NFTs) are cryptographic assets on a blockchain with unique identification codes and metadata that makes each asset unit unique.
- DeFi. Decentralized finance (DeFi) is an emerging technology in the financial sector that is based on secure distributed ledgers similar to those used by cryptocurrencies. DeFi removes the control banks and institutions have over money, financial products and financial services.
- Cryptocurrency. Cryptocurrencies, or crypto, are applications that create a decentralized digital currency that does not rely on any central authority to uphold or maintain it. Bitcoin is the most popular cryptocurrency in use today.
- dApp. Decentralized applications (dApps) are decentralized applications that are built on top of blockchain and make use of smart contracts to enable service delivery. DApps are outside the purview and control of a single authority and are developed for a variety of purposes in social media, finance and online gaming. DApps can be developed for a variety of purposes including gaming, finance and social media. Many DApps in use today are built on the Ethereum platform.
- DAOs. Decentralized autonomous organizations (DAOs) are virtual organizations that are collectively owned and managed by its members, providing some structure and governance in a decentralized Web 3.0 environment.
Why Web 3.0 Matters To Your Business
If you’ve been able to get your head wrapped around the concept and practical applications of Web 3.0 and its emerging technologies you might be feeling pretty good about yourself right about now. But what does any of this have to do with your business? As with any advancements in technology, societies, organizations and individuals must be prepared to adapt or risk extinction. Companies such as Blockbuster and Polaroid come to mind as great examples that failed at this task.
Progress is inevitable. Innovations transform entire industries. Older off-chain (Web 2.0) technologies are rapidly getting replaced by blockchain technologies during this transition into the Web 3.0 era. With new technologies come new opportunities, led by the fearless and the innovative. Companies that embrace these emerging technologies will be rewarded. Making your organization Web 3.0-ready and becoming familiar with the purpose, applications and benefits of Web 3.0 is an imperative. Not only will it keep you competitive, but in the coming months and years, it will ensure that a business not only survives but thrives in the emerging digital world.