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Welcome to Web3 - Part 1/4

This is a lesson in blog-format which gives a 10-minute overview of the most important web3 concepts. Happy learning! Welcome to the first lesson in our 5-day Crash Course in Web3. My name is Phil, and I'm the Co-Founder of Makerversity. Together with my colleagues Selina and Joz, we have put together a course that explains the crypto world and fits into any busy schedule! In this series, we will give you bite-sized learning about Web3. You will also receive your first personalised certificate! Today you will learn:

  1. A Brief Introduction to Web3 to get you up to speed;

  2. A Flashback to the Origins of the Web

  3. A comparison between Web1, Web2, and Web3;

Ready? Go!

What is Web3 anyway?

Web3 is considered the future paradigm of the present-day version of the internet called, unsurprisingly, Web2. Web3 has several defining features that we will go through.

Three main features of Web3 are that it is

  1. mainly decentralised,

  2. uses blockchain technology and

  3. incorporates token-based economics.

We’ll go further into specific explanations, use cases and more in the upcoming lessons. For now, you can think of the Blockchain as an immutable spreadsheet that keeps records, or in other words: a ledger. These records are open and can be accessed and assessed by anyone. The ledger is stored decentrally so that no one person(or company) can control, hide or alter the data. Simply put, token-based economics (aka "tokenomics") is a financial system that is built on the architecture of blockchain technology and uses tokens as units of value, exchange and governance. If that still sounds confusing, don’t worry. You’ll be Web3-ing like a pro by the end of the course.

Evolution of the Web as We Know It (cue flashback)

The earliest version of the internet began in1960s and was primarily a way for researchers to share information. It wasn’t until the early eighties that standard protocols were implemented that allowed computers to “talk” to each other on different networks. SMTP (AKA Simple Mail Transfer Protocol) for emails, TCP/IP (AKA the Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol) Before that, there was no ‘one’ common language for them to be able to exchange information freely.

These protocols still support the underlying architecture of almost all internet communications and remain open source. Meaning they are openly accessible to build and work with, and there is no fee to access the code. It was not until the early 1990s when Tim Burness Lee created what he called the 'World-Wide Web' using HTML(aka Hypertext Markup Language) while working at CERN (yep, the place with the hadron collider).

Fun fact: he called it W3, but that abbreviation never caught on. Follow this link to see what that first page looked like. The subsequent blossoming of the World-Wide Web and the standard HTTP (HyperText Transfer Protocol) that you see in your web bars brought about the birth of Web1 in the mid-1990s. The 90s were an age of static web pages retrieved from servers, and if you clicked on the previous link, they looked more like text docs than the sophisticated user experience we are now used to. There was little interactivity, and for most users, aside from the odd tech-savvy nerd making web pages about their dog and participating in long text-based adventure games, the internet was a read-only system.

However, that system was decentralised and openly accessible. Another fun fact is that advertising was banned from the early web as it was seen as a public utility. Fast forward to the mid-2000s with the uptake of smartphone technology. The internet began to morph into its next iteration, namely Web2, which by and large still governs our user experience today.

So what is “Web2” you ask?

There is no official start date for Web2 as it is a combination of different things coming together. However, one defining feature is interactivity. Where web1 mainly was for reading, Web2 let users do or add something. Amazon, which started as an online book store, quickly implemented this feature by asking its users and customers to post book reviews. This segue leads to one of the most significant shifts in Web2: user-generated content.

As the tech developed with things like adding cameras on increasingly smartphones uploading images and later videos became easy. Consumers became producers, and through large social media platforms that hosted their content could easily create and share media they made themselves. This version of the web is often described as a read/write model. Another change happened with the rise of user-generated media: ownership shifted from being decentralised to large centralised organisations. Instead of paying to host content on your own website, large Web2 companies (think Google, Amazon or the company formally known as Facebook) covered the costs. They are hosting your content on their platforms. The cost to the user? Our data. The users became the product for these companies, which use the data to offer highly personalised access to customers for advertising. So, by and large, in this system, while we create the content, we don’t own it. The concentration of profits and power over the internet and numerous scandals plaguing unscrupulous big tech has brought about an ecosystem of people trying to shift the balance of power back to a more decentralised and open system. In many ways, Web3 is a reaction to social networks selling our data for their own profit and failing to keep it secure.

And how does Web3 propose to do this?

(Image from Consensys) Web3 aims to bring together the best of web1 and web2 to create a system based on new services, applications and software architecture that breaks away from today’s service-centralised internet.

It wants to change the disparity of Web2 in several different ways. Let’s look a some of their solutions:

Self-Sovereign Identity Digital identity will be in your control. You have a unique signature registered on the blockchain. Any accounts you register for will remain in your control and can be used to verify you. A digital identity allows you to easily apply one set of credentials for every platform. It also makes it difficult for anyone to steal your identity or claim your work as their own.

Creators’ Economy Similarly, Web3 aims to give people control of their own content. Currently, platforms pay their creators, and brand integrations can pay creators. However, with Web3, people would be able to upload their content and get paid for it directly by the consumers. For example, through a token-based economic system.

Web3 platforms choose to issue their own tokens to assign the direct value of participation and creation. With these tokens, further than having ownership of content creators can also have a stake in the platform that hosts it. Web3 users acquire actual ownership by using products and services and contributing value to them. That is why Web3 is also dubbed “read-write-own”, which leads to the next point: decentralisation.

(Source unknown, please let us know if you know the original creator) Decentralisation(or Decentralization if you are US Based) As mentioned earlier, decentralisation means that the internet would function (again) more like a peer-to-peer network. Instead of storing data in centralised servers by giants like AWS, Google and Meta (Facebook), data would be distributed amongst all the interconnected machines. The benefit of such a system is that content is not hidden in siloed services at the whim of the controlling companies. This way, the internet becomes a community of users instead of a community of governing bodies. Censorship Resistance As mentioned already, your content is in the control of platform owners. If they deem your content to be ineligible for the platform, they can take it down or censor it. Blockchains' open, transparent, and decentralised nature offers resistance to censorship as information is immutable and distributed across the network.

More control, ownership and security for users

The reality is that this is just the tip of the Web3 iceberg. Simply put, Web3 aims to mitigate some of Web2’s biggest challenges. Central to the next era of the internet is giving more control to its users in terms of their identity, the content they put out, the security, and how authorities function. Over the last year, more than $30bn in venture capital from the world's most respected VC companies has been poured into Web3 companies to usher in the next era to build the future as we speak.

Enough for one day!

This brings us to the end of lesson 1. Today you learned:

  • A Brief Introduction to Web3 to get you up to speed;

  • A Flashback to the Origins of the Web;

  • A comparison between Web1, Web2, and Web3;

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