We have Web 1.0 and Web 2.0, and lately you’ve probably heard of Web 3.0, aka Web3. Could this ill-defined term really be the future of the internet? While there is no clarity on what Web3 entails, in general, the emerging internet is based on blockchain and encompassing cryptocurrencies, NFTs (non-tradable tokens – see our guide on what NFTs are for basics) and the metaverse. understood as a version. . This is because, according to its proponents, Web3 is all about decentralization, a response to the current era of the web dominated by giant platforms like Facebook – sorry we mean Meta – and Google.
The Web3 Foundation says its “passion is to deliver Web 3.0, a decentralized and fair internet where users control their own data, identity and destiny.” In Web 2.0 powered by social media, we users are the end product. However, this is not the case in an idealized version of Web3.
What is blockchain?
Blockchain can be thought of as a bit of an operating system. According to IBM’s Blockchain for Dummies publication, “it is a shared, immutable ledger that facilitates the process of recording transactions and tracking assets in a business network.” These assets can be anything from a home to intellectual property. Cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum are built on blockchains (there isn’t just one). Shared ledger can monitor and record transactions of assets and do this more efficiently than existing systems.
Many people see cryptocurrency as an investment and hope that the price can go up and sell to make a profit. This is partly because the price can fluctuate wildly and very few places in the ‘real world’ accept payments in cryptocurrency. There is a famous story about pizza paid in Bitcoin. After seeing an online request in May 2010, 19-year-old student Jeremy Sturdivant sent two large pizzas to a programmer named Laszlo Hanyecz. It was repaid with $41 worth of Bitcoin at the time. At various points since then, this Bitcoin would have been worth hundreds of millions of dollars. A very expensive takeaway! Sturdivant did not consider the proceeds from the transaction, which is considered the first real-world use of Bitcoin, to be an investment, but used it for travel.
There are also NFTs – non-tradable tokens. These are mostly, but not exclusively, data units (such as those found in digital music, art, and other assets) built on the Ethereum blockchain. Several NFT projects have sprung up, the most famous of which is the Bored Ape Yacht Club. Bored Ape’s NFTs, as the name suggests, feature cartoonish images of bored monkeys. These and many other NFTs can be traded through the OpenSea platform, or check out our top NFT marketplaces for more options.
Despite being relatively new, we see crypto and blockchain firms advertising widely, including the jerseys of high-profile football teams; some, such as the Italian champions Inter Milan, offer fans the chance to buy the club’s own “coins”.
Metaverse aims to bring much of this together in a digital world. Again, not everyone means the same thing when talking about the metaverse. For many, it’s a digital world somewhat akin to Second Life, where our human and digital identities are interconnected. When Facebook changed its name to Meta, it did so to put the firm at the forefront of Web3 and to pour its significant resources into the virtual reality (VR) space. This world will include the use of NFTs, cryptocurrencies and other digital assets. NFT games are also a big part of it. As Wired points out, popular game Fortnite calls itself the metaverse, while Roblox is trying to bring a more user-generated focus to the gaming platform.
Apple and Web3
Apple doesn’t seem to be placing as big a bet on Web3 as those like Mark Zuckerberg have. Still, it has some potential products that could be a big part of how it evolves. For example, we know that Apple will release augmented reality (AR) glasses and an Apple VR headset in the not too distant future. The company is also making important moves in the financial world.
While CEO Tim Cook has previously rejected the idea of Apple investing in crypto, he has a personal interest in the space. BitPay, a Bitcoin cryptocurrency payment service provider, has a prepaid Mastercard that users can add to Apple Wallet since February 2021. If at all, most of the major crypto and NFT markets have apps available on iOS.
We don’t know yet what Web3 will look like, while there’s still a lot to define and a lot of ideas to actually test at scale. It’s still in its infancy, and the crypto crashes, thefts, and scandals hardly discourage the average person considering whether or not to get involved. However, engagement, monitoring and even feedback will be crucial if we want to make the next generation internet better than before.
This article was originally published in MacFormat magazine. Subscribe to MagFormat here (opens in new tab).