- Lucia Blasco
- BBC News World
In our hyper-connected world dominated by web connections, it’s hard to imagine any pundits saying the internet will need a “massive overhaul”.
Yet it is precisely this ubiquity that has driven more and more technologists to work on what they call a “new phase” of the internet.
They insist that this “second generation” internet must change to be much smarter; must evolve to become a “semantic web” which, in addition to being more efficient, offers us more control over our data.
This is what they foresee with the arrival of Web 3.0, which many players in the sector consider to be the “great revolution of the Internet”.
The “Web3” will allow machines to interpret a much larger volume of data. This will allow us, among other things, to interact much more deeply with other users from any platform.
In this “new chapter” of the internet, we will no longer need complex operating systems or large hard drives to store information, because absolutely everything will be in the cloud. And everything will be much faster and customizable.
In general, one could say that on Web3, the machine will “collaborate” more effectively with the human being.
But its main value is the decentralization of the internet: creating a fairer network and depriving the “internet giants” of their power, as the promoters of the concept point out.
This concept, which has already echoed in Silicon Valley, has been in development for years.
The term was coined in 2014 by ethereum cryptocurrency co-founder Gavin Wood.
Just as Tim Berners-Lee is considered the “father of the internet”, Wood is often referred to as the “father of etherum” for being its co-founder and broadcaster.
Etherum is the second most used blockchain protocol in the world. And this technology is the foundation of Web3.
Wood, creator of the open source project Polkadot, started from the idea that it was necessary to “reshape the internet”: create a new architecture with a specific protocol so that services are decentralized.
To do this, the British software engineer founded the Web3 Foundation – to “fund the research and development teams that build the foundations” of Web3 – and created Parity Technologies, a Berlin-based blockchain infrastructure company for the “decentralized web”.
But what does this mean for decentralization?
“The internet in its early days was an open and decentralized protocol. It started to be centralized in the 90s with the big technologies we know today,” Ursula O’Kuinghttons, director of communications at Parity Technologies, tells BBC Mundo. .
“What you want with Web3 is to return to the essence, at the beginning, of what the Internet was: that no one controls to a large extent this communication tool so present in our daily lives”, adds O’Kuinghttons .
A key element of the structure of Web3 is the blockchain technology, which makes it possible to create “blocks” and form chains of data, and which we know above all from cryptocurrencies.
If Web 1.0 (Web1) was based on hyperlinks and Web 2.0 (Web2) on social networks, Web 3.0 (Web3) will be based on blockchain technology.
“We need to be open-minded because blockchain is much more than a cryptocurrency. Web3 is much more interesting than the value of a token,” says O’Kuinghttons.
In fact, the elements that make Web3 possible have been developed over the past few years and, in a way, it is already a reality.
But its technology has not yet been assimilated or used en masse by the general public.
“A faster, safer and more open web”
Colin Evran leads the Filecoin and IPFS ecosystems, two protocols created by Protocol Labs, a San Francisco, Calif.-based blockchain technology company that also aims to “decentralize the web.”
“A big part of my job is to accelerate the transition from Web2 to Web3,” he tells BBC Mundo.
“Our goal is to update the web to make it faster, more secure, more attack resistant and more open.”
To understand how Web3 will work and how fast and resilient it will be, we must first understand how the internet was created and how it has changed over the years.
“If we look back to the early days of the internet – in the 1960s and 1970s – we see that the internet existed even before the web itself: it was an amalgamation of wires and a network that ‘connected things,'” Evran explains.
“Originally it was a government project called Arpanet to transfer information.”
In the early 1990s, Web 1.0 took off, continues Evran. Sites like Yahoo! were static web pages that relied on hyperlinks.
Web 2.0 appeared in the 2000s. The main improvement, according to Evran, is that “it allows us to read and write interactively, that mobile and web applications can ‘talk’ to each other and that we can interact with them.”
“The development of Web 3.0 adds to all of this the building of trust, as civil liberties will be built into its underlying structure,” he argues.
He also criticizes the “centralization” of Web2.
“A few storage service providers, banks, and big governments are hoarding all the power and can control and manipulate data at will to generate money and feed their interests,” Evran says.
“We cannot believe that these organizations do not manipulate our data,” he adds.
So what changes with Web3?
“Change the entire architecture of the web!”, Evran replies.
For example, the expert claims that Web3 “will allow users to have access to thousands of data centers around the world and can choose who keeps their data and how.”
Amazon, Google and Microsoft currently lead the cloud data storage market.
The first company, together with its subsidiary AWS, controls 41.5% of the total, according to McAfee data for 2019. It is followed by Azure, from Microsoft, with 29.4%, and Google Cloud, with 3%.
These three companies own half of the world’s 600 large data centers, according to a report by Synergy Research Group.
On the other hand, Evran explains that in Web3 there will be “clear mechanisms” to verify data and eliminate problems such as fake news.
As for the more technical part, there is the question of protocols: “When you open Google or another browser and go to a website, you use the HTTP protocol; you ‘tell’ this protocol to look for a file in a specific location”.
“It’s like, to find a book, you have to force it through the New York Public Library. If that library collapses or the government puts in a security guard, you can’t access the library anymore. content. It is a centrally controlled structure.”
“In the world of Web3, each copy of the book will be compressed in a cryptographic algorithm that cannot be manipulated. And we will be able to share it even while connected to the network”, summarizes Evran.
It is a -to-peer (P2P) technology allowing to exchange resources equally, directly between several users, which, according to Evran, is not possible with the current Web2 and the HTTP protocol used. .
Úrsula O’Kuinghttons explains that Web3’s blockchain technology is very secure and “so far, in more than 10 years, no one has been able to hack it.”
“The question of security is crucial in the times in which we live because our lives and our data are increasingly turned towards the Internet”, adds the specialist.
A slow process
These changes are meant to give internet users more power over the information they access and the data they share and ultimately create a freer and more equal internet.
But the promise that Web 3.0 will be able to end the hegemony of technology giants like Google or Facebook raises doubts.
Some skeptical voices are heard, such as that of Elon Musk, who posted an ironic comment on Twitter a few days ago: “Has anyone seen Web3? I can’t find it”.
Or that of Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey, who said that Web3 “is a centralized entity, but with a different label. […]. “
But Colin Evran does not lose his enthusiasm.
“The transition from Web1 to Web2 was a huge transition that took many years. The transition from Web2 to Web3 is inevitable, but it won’t happen overnight, but over many years.
“The number of developers involved in this project is a clear indicator that those building the internet of the future are betting on Web3,” he adds.
He believes that Web3 “will update the internet with a completely new and much more democratic paradigm than Web2.”
“If we focus on developing the web, in the next five or ten years we’ll put data back in the hands of users. And that’s the world I want for me and my kids.”
O’Kuinghttons agrees that change “will not be an easy task, but it is increasingly urgent that we have a more equal and fairer internet […].”
“We are still in a very, very early phase. All of this is just starting to develop and is still in the construction phase,” explains the specialist.
“But in 2021, we’ve already seen a huge boost with the push of NFTs and metaverses. And in 2022, we’ll see crucial changes, like the expansion of these technologies, which is none other than Web3.”