One of the biggest problems with all things related to Web 3.0 is that definitions get blurry and ideas get lost in translation. For example, if someone asks us what an NFT is and we just answer with a smug smirk that it’s a “non-fungible token, duh” (as if we used the word ‘fungible’ before 2021) that doesn’t help anyone. Furthermore, the lack of clear definitions create this muddy environment where most people think that NFT is a picture, and not the underlying technology. So, let’s clear up what Web 3.0. really is, and why we need to pay attention to it.
In the early ‘90s the first iteration of the world wide web emerged with static websites, run on centralised servers. There were only a handful of content creators, and most people were consumers, surfing this read-only version of the internet. Then, mid-2000’s brought upon the era of Web 2.0. with the rise of social networks, user-generated content, and interoperability. The number of content creators rose, but ultimately their data and the majority of the revenue they generated still belonged to a handful tech giants that owned the platforms we used. Tracking and monetising data became the new oil of the digital economy, and we, the consumers and content creators, were short-changed. And now the demand for a more fair internet brought us to the early days of Web 3.0.
Simply put: Web 3.0. is bringing digital ownership to users. It’s an update of the back-end of the internet after decades of focusing on the front-end. Up until now, ownership and scarcity were really hard to prove and establish online. But the blockchain brings all that into the virtual realm, by endowing digital content with the exact things that give value to physical assets. Verifiable scarcity and ownership. It cannot be understated what a game changer this is. Of course, right now it’s digital collectibles running the show, and price action is unrealistic and volatile — the same way it was during the dot-com bubble. But when the dust settles, a new digital economy will rise, with empowered content creators, fair and transparent distribution of revenue, and new markets that can finally leverage previously non-monetizeable assets.
Let me give you just one example: The healthcare analytics industry is projected to grow to $75 billion by 2026. Medical data is one of the most sensitive and valuable assets we all have, yet there is no universal access to it, and we are oblivious to the enormous profit they make and the true price tag they carry. The blockchain can bring patients unprecedented control over their medical information by providing them with easy access, and an option to finally profit off of them and take a slice of that $75 billion pie.
Web 3.0. is not about a more exotic meta internet, and NFTs are not about fun jpegs and weird acronyms. They are technological advancements to push forward the digital realm to meet the demands of a 21st century economy. And when they grow beyond their current infant stage, make no mistake, true digital ownership will affect the lives of each and every one of us.