Late in the year, we are suddenly hearing a new term ‘web 3’
For the reasons I describe below, this trend will be significant
In this article, I take the perspective of a neutral observer
I do not aspire to be an expert on web 3
I am interested in web 3 in context of my work (AI)
Today, most things impact AI (or are impacted by AI)
So, the evolution of web 3 is important to understand
But I take a broader perspective – hence the idea of a ‘web 3.0 meme’
What is a meme?
The word ‘meme’ was first proposed by Richard Dawkins in the book The selfish Gene
A meme is an idea, behaviour, or style that spreads by means of imitation from person to person within a culture and often carries symbolic meaning representing a particular phenomenon or theme. A meme acts as a unit for carrying cultural ideas, symbols, or practices, that can be transmitted from one mind to another through writing, speech, gestures, rituals, or other imitable phenomena with a mimicked theme. Supporters of the concept regard memes as cultural analogues to genes in that they self-replicate, mutate, and respond to selective pressures. (Adapted from Wikipedia)
Dawkins saw memes as part of the human evolution itself – and of course the Internet has accelerated the flow and uptake of new memes. A meme is thus a powerful concept (The power of memes) simply by the mechanism of “copying of information from one person to another”
The Web 3 meme
Now what has all this got to do with the Web?
The original web (as postulated by Tim Berners Lee) was a thing / technology (and hence not a meme)
But Web 2.0 (as proposed by Tim O Reilly in 2014) was a meme i.e. an idea or a concept without a physical equivalent)
Since the Tim Berners Lee has proposed Web 3.0 based on Linked data and the Web as a meme
But the term Web 3 – as is discussed today – was proposed as another meme in 2014 (distinct form the Bernes Lee idea of Web 3.0)
This Web 3 meme is the subject of this post
When you view the idea of Web 3 as a meme, we can understand it better by viewing this meme from multiple perspectives
Perspectives on the Web 3 meme
With this background in mind, lets look at various perspectives for the web 3 meme
Based on blockchain – (more consumer blockchain): First and foremost, consumer blockchain underpins web 3. Enterprise (corporate) blockchain has been around for some time – but with mixed uptakes. But web 3 aims to combine blockchain, crypto, NFT etc – primarily targeting consumer (vs enterprise) applications.
The vision of the decentralised web: The vision of the decentralised web is at the core of web 3 – especially the idea of reducing the control / influence of the large companies that dominate the Web currently. This is achieved through a model of decentralised (Peer to Peer) models and cryptocurrency based models which in theory, bypass the institutions
NFT: NFT(non-fungible tokens) are another component of Web 3. In theory, NFTs provide a ‘content renting’ model where users do not own the content – only the receipt to the content – thus providing a way for artists to monetize their work on the Web.
Legitimising cryptocurrency: Web 3 could be a way to legitimise the use of cryptocurrency and help its widespread adoption than what we see currently. For the same reason, Web 3 also brings to it the concerns around cryptocurrencies. Like cryptocurrencies, Web 3 needs user adoption – hence the hype / promotion / evangelism etc
Legitimising cryptocurrency in virtual worlds like the metaverse: Web 3 could be a way to legitimise the use of cryptocurrency in virtual worlds like the metaverse.
Interest from Venture capital: VCs will love this – seeing many companies which can be buit and can exit.
Notwithstanding the inherent risks of cryptocurrencies including legal and statutory risks, Web 3 has got a few things going for it – for instance, the emphasis on decentralization, a potential business model for creators, the interest from venture capital etc.
So, I see many positives – and that real money will be made (and lost) but also real jobs will be created as well
Image source: Amazon – Richard Dawkins book the Selfish Gene which first proposed the concept of the meme