The Internet is on the verge of a new technological and cultural shift referred to as Web 3.0, and while there are many articles on defining Web 3, what has become clear is that there is no singular vision, but rather, multiple trends that are evolving in parallel and converging.
The following is a list of the different facets of the Web 3 movement and an attempt at a unified model that shows how they are interconnected.
The Internet of Value
If you’ve been following web 3 on twitter, read any online articles, or listened to any podcasts, the trend with the loudest voice on web 3 at the moment is the emergence of a new economic layer of ownership. You would have likely have seen this famous motif:
web1: read web2: read + write web3: read + write + own
Having derived from the Crypto movement that started with bitcoin and the implementation of blockchain technology, the notion of a distributed ledger where every contract, transaction and currency can be trusted and verified is incredibly powerful.
Once blockchain technology became programmable via the Ethereum blockchain, this led to the rise of new economic business models built on tokens and smart contracts.
What has been missing from the web until now is property rights, (1) a way to assign value to digital assets and (2) a way to exchange value of property. This led to the phenomenon of NFTs in the art world and is quickly spreading to other industries with new forms of utility.
This facet of web 3 moves the web from the internet of information exchange to an internet of value exchange.
The Internet of Things
The IoT (internet of things) is a network of physical devices that are connected to the internet and able to share data. These connected devices include sensors, wearables, actuators, healthcare monitor devices, and robotics that will enable smart appliances, autonomous vehicles, health monitoring and numerous other interconnected devices.
Like electricity, this digital layer of sensors and data will make the web part of the fabric of our physical lives. Beyond touch screens, the web is accessible via voice (Siri, Alexa), wearables, and multiple-sensory triggers. IoT makes the web invisible and persistent.
The number of IoT devices is estimated to reach 75 billion by 2025, and soon after will begin to approach the trillions.
The Internet of Places
While the term ‘metaverse’ derives from the pages of science fiction, it has recently taken on a new surge of popularity. While VR technology is on the cusp of going mainstream, every major tech company, as well as many non-tech companies, are investing big in a metaverse strategy.
The metaverse is about engagement in shared virtual spaces, manifested as either 3D environments or immersive VR. But it’s not just avatars meeting in virtual worlds and it’s not just about gaming, the promise of the metaverse includes full-fledged virtual economies, complete with property ownership, corporate offices, fashion, real-estate, shopping malls, and learning academies.
While the metaverse is about building virtual worlds, the Internet of Places includes other forms of spatial computing such as augmented reality (AR) via physical spaces with digital imagery, information, and 3D objects. Hololens technology, similar to AR, projects digital imagery into physical spaces creating a new kind of blended reality.
The Internet of Intelligence
Web 3 is about building an intelligent and adaptive new web. It is when processes will be triggered by events and sensors, autonomous interactions, and self-executing programs.
The recent AI advances in generative art, music, text, and video are pretty astounding as AI algorithmically is able to create new ideas, forms, shapes, sounds, and patterns. For example, DALL-E is a 12-billion parameter version of GPT-3 trained to generate images from text descriptions.
AI will enhance the AR experience by allowing deep neural networks to replace traditional computer vision approaches. Capturing and processing data in spatial environments will be an integral part of the physical/digital blended reality.
The Internet of Me
Another facet of the emerging decentralized web is a move towards individual control over personalized data. This is one of the big problems with today’s web 2 world of careless data sharing and the exploitation of data for commercial purposes.
Self-Sovereign Identity (SSI) removes the need to store personal information entirely on a central database and gives greater control to individuals on what information they want to share.
The W3C has created a standard for SSI referred to as DIDs (decentralized identifiers) which is a new type of identifier that enables verifiable, decentralized digital identity. Coupled with another standard of VCs (verifiable credentials), we now have a solid foundation for building apps that utilize personalized identity.
The Web 3 Stack
In their great book titled ‘The Spatial Web,’ Gabriel Rene and Dan Mapes outline a web 3 stack that follows the classic computer science three-tier architecture of interface, logic, and data.
Inspired by their thoughts around this, the following is a diagram model I created, and while this is a very high-level infographic, the purpose of this is to show how each of the different facets work together.
In conclusion, Web 3 is a movement that is broader than Crypto, and it is broader than the metaverse. Web 3 is a set of technological trends that are emerging and converging to shape the next iteration of the internet.