Network of the future – what’s behind Web3?

This is one of the hypes of the digital bubble of the future: the Web3. The “new level” of the internet with a big promise: everything should be safer, more transparent and fairer here. The crypto scene in particular is fueling the trend to establish its own Web3 version. With success: Millions have already been invested. But what exactly is behind Web3?

In order to understand why we are talking about Web3, it makes sense to take stock. In the beginning, Web 1.0 was simply called the World Wide Web and was mainly a collection of websites connected to each other by hyperlinks. Pure information, no exchange. Then came Web 2.0, the Internet, which we use today and which has continued to develop since the turn of the millennium. Suddenly, there were comments, likes. You could meet online and chat much more directly.

A social network – with flaws, “namely that it is dominated by a few very powerful corporations and their owners”. Greetings to Google and Facebook. This grievance, described by “ct” editor Sylvester Tremmel, is the motivation for Web3.

In Web3, the Internet should once again become a place where things are fair. Transparent. And: Where everything is distributed in a decentralized way. A currently very strong movement wants to achieve this with blockchain technology, known from cryptocurrencies. It is to become the decentralized lubricant.

“There is no single server somewhere or single data center somewhere that belongs to one company, but is distributed globally across all computers participating in the blockchain,” says Sylvester Tremmel. “And if you then increase services on that basis, you also have the effect that no individual authority can regulate or disable a service.”

Web3 is therefore based on a system of checks and balances in response to the current loss of control by large companies. Ideally, then – as Jannis Brühl describes in the “SZ” – “many small user-managed units in which everyone can hold shares” appear, paid for with Bitcoins and Co.: Quasi crowdfunding without a platform of intermediate funding, for example one via the community-funded and controlled short message service in the manner of Twitter.

“The vision is that it’s not that different in usage, says ct editor Sylvester Tremmel, but in limiting how individual actors could build power, much more resistant.”

Sounds good, right? And has a lot of 2019’s “Contract for the Web,” which “World Wide Web” inventor Tim Berners-Lee helped pilot. Behind it are nine guidelines for making the Internet a place that serves people and doesn’t divide them.

All non-binding, but at least signed by the German government and industry giants such as Microsoft and Google. More specifically, it is fair access for all, freedom from censorship, data protection and open technologies – for the user and not for profit.

And this is exactly where a problem might lurk in the blockchain-powered Web3. The danger is “that it does not de facto develop in this direction, but that, for example, very large economic players get involved and then already use this technology, that is to say blockchains, but knowingly in such a way that they don’t give up”. this power they currently enjoy in Web 2.0,” warns Sylvester Tremmel.

Absurd amounts in the millions are already invested in business ideas or virtual properties that are to be used, for example, as online showrooms for digital fashion, for example to rack up game avatars. This spirit of optimism not only attracts big players like Adidas and Nike, but also fraudsters. There is no institution that helps in case of damage. It would be contrary to the spirit of freedom.

The question is also: how is the transition from Web 2.0 to this version of Web3 going? How to “switch”? And who is moving? It remains as an exciting utopia with many question marks.

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