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The Problem of Defining Web3

Forums, blogs, and techies discussing Web3 don’t seem to have a consensus on what it actually means. It can drive the average inquirer crazy when they ask what they imagine as a simple question yet it gives out 5+ answers.

You might hear something like, “It’s the decentralized automated internet”, or “It’s the semantic web”, or “It’s the Metaverse.”

It’s far easier to define Web1 and Web2 as they have already existed. Web1 is the good old 90s internet. Back when websites were largely static sheets of information and people mostly consumed the web rather than interacted with it.

Web2 is what we’re in now. An age of the internet where users can contribute and interact with large internet platforms like Facebook or Twitter in exchange for their personal data.

Web3? It’s a work in progress. The main reason why definitions shift is because of the rate of development for different innovations. Technological evolution isn’t always a straight line. Nintendo released “Virtual Boy” (A VR device) in the 90s then backtracked as the technology wasn’t quite ready. Or Apple’s “Apple Newton” which had many smartphone features of today back in 1993 but was a complete failure. It wasn’t until 2007 that Apple released their world-famous iPhone.

Right now, there are companies like Ultraleap that develop tactile sensations for digital interaction. If those are implemented into the web in the next few years, sensory features will be considered an aspect of Web3. But if the market isn’t ready for it, it might be a feature of Web4 instead.

That being said, it’s becoming increasingly evident that Extended Reality (XR) and decentralization will play a huge role in Web3.

If you look at descriptions of Web3 from several years prior, there aren’t many mentions of it. But several large cultural shifts have happened from the tech space that are tied to blockchains: cryptocurrencies, dApps, smart contracts, and NFTs.

Blockchain technology has been called a foundation for a decentralized web. A blockchain is basically a decentralized digital ledger of transactions that is duplicated and distributed across a network of computers.

From it, we see developments like cryptocurrencies and NFTs which could play a significant role in the Metaverse economic system. NFTs are like the digital versions of trading cards, or deeds, or original paintings. They verify ownership of digital assets on a digital platform. Cryptocurrencies are digital money, largely decentralized, and able to be transferred globally without bank transfer fees. Perfect for virtual worlds with global participants.

Anecdotal observation of this space suggests almost an inevitability of blockchain technology playing a crucial role in Web3 as a decentralized Metaverse. Time will ultimately tell.

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