Imagine the Internet as you know it. The likes of Google, Apple, Meta and Amazon reign supreme; we are at the whim of their algorithm changes without having any way to access the data within their closed platforms. If you’re a content creator, it only gets worse. The work can be scammed without reward and you still risk being kicked off your platform, potentially leaving you with no subscribers or revenue stream.
It’s an iteration of the internet known as Web2, and it’s our current reality. So far, we have experienced two types of World Wide Web – Web1 and Web2 – but its third and newest version is fast approaching.
If our current web is highly centralized, with a few key players controlling most of our communication and commerce, then Web3 might just be the answer to democratize it. That’s the belief of Li Jin, co-founder and general partner of venture capital firm Variant, which invests in Web3 and the proprietary economy. According to Jin, Web3 has the potential to be a period of “rebirth” that will usher in a “golden age of content”.
“You only have to look back in history to see that with each new era of technology comes a new kind of creativity that becomes possible,” she says. “If you’re a really specialized designer today, it’s really hard to make a living. But there will be a flowering of creators who have a very niche type of value proposition in Web3, and they will have a much easier time monetizing.
Thanks to blockchain and other media assets like NFTs, Jin says, Web3 has the structures in place to facilitate the flow of money in ways we’ve never seen before. Such a capability, Web3 proponents believe, has the ability to finally wrest power away from publishers and platforms, giving way to an egalitarian and perhaps even utopian Web.
To the uninitiated, the concept of a new kind of internet might seem alien and unlikely, but Jin, a blockchain expert, says it’s already happening and it’s currently the realm of the web that is experiencing the fastest growth. To deepen her understanding, HUNGER spoke with her about what Web3 will look like to users and how it could transform the world as we know it.
What are the differences between Web1, Web2 and Web3?
People tend to describe each successive era of the web as a different action the user was empowered to take. Web1 was “read”, so for the first time you could read all the different types of content on all of these web pages.
Web2 introduced the ability for interactivity, so not only could you read content, but you could also “write”. Facebook and Instagram, for example, are Web2 social platforms and they are populated not only by content they have created, but also by content from other users.
Web3 is “read”, “write” and “clean”. You may interact with the Platforms and you may also own the digital media therein, or part of the Platform itself. Ownership is really the word I think of when I think of Web3 – it’s the keystone of new user experiences here and it translates into user ownership of media assets like NFTs.