what is “web3”, the new internet age?

A trendy concept that agitates both the technological sphere and communicators, the “web3” is presented by its supporters as the new version of the Internet, more decentralized and based on “blockchain”, the technology behind NFT and cryptocurrencies.

“It seems to be more of a marketing expression than a reality at the moment,” however, criticized Tesla carmaker boss Elon Musk in late December, to emphasize the catch-all character of “web3”, like other popular concepts such as the metaverse. Attempt to explain.

. What evolution of the Internet does “web3” embody?

The “web3” would be the third age in the history of the Internet, successor, according to its defenders, of Web 1.0, which reigned from the beginning of the 90s to the mid-2000s, and of Web 2.0, hegemonic from the 2010 decade .

Embodied by actors such as Yahoo! o AOL, Web 1.0 refers to the first uses of the Internet with its static pages that essentially allow the consultation of information or the sending of e-mails.

Web 2.0 marks the era of the social and interactive Internet, where users can produce and disseminate multimedia content. Consecrate the reign of a handful of large centralized platforms like Google, Amazon, or Facebook.

A concept attributed to Gavin Wood, co-founder of the Ethereum “blockchain”, “web3” refers to the idea of ​​a decentralized Internet, where users would control their data, without the help of intermediaries.

The meaning of “free” is thus added to the number three (“three” in English), evoking the return of an Internet more independent of states as network giants, as it was originally.

Which technology allows this evolution?

The “web3” is closely linked to the technology of the “blockchain”, a sort of huge digital ledger shared among a multitude of users, without central authority and deemed not falsifiable, which lists the entire history of transactions.

Born after the financial crisis of 2008, the most famous “blockchain” is Bitcoin and the associated cryptocurrency, which is totally virtual. Since then, many others have been launched such as Ethereum, Solana or Polygon.

It is on these “blockchains” that “web3” branded projects and applications are based, such as non-fungible tokens (NFTs), non-reproducible digital certificates of authenticity that derive their value from the real or virtual object to which they are attached. .

Enough to give the Internet user as much decision-making power as ownership over what they create or consume on the network.

“With + web3 +, people create value but also capture part of it, which changes everything for artists, for example. It is a network that belongs to them, where they regain control over creation and what they ‘own’, he explains. to AFP Nicolas Julia, founder of Sorare, a French online game trading start-up of cartoons in the form of an NFT.

“This is what will allow us to reinvent a whole group of industries, be it art, music or sport,” he adds.

Is the metaverse part of “web3”?

Although they are linked, in particular by the “blockchain” technology and the possibility of holding digital assets such as NFTs, “web3” and metaverse describe two different concepts.

Pushed to the fore in the summer of 2021, the metaverse designates a digital and social universe, which is expected to extend physical reality via augmented or virtual reality and shift the internet from 2D to 3D.

Is his promise enough to amalgamate it with the “web3” revolution, while the metaverse is carried in particular by Meta (Facebook), one of the leading companies of Web 2.0 and a symbol of a centralized vision of the Internet?

“The answer will be given in several years because, today, the + web3 +, we still don’t know what it is”, sums up with AFP Julien Pillot, specialist in digital and cultural industries.

“Either we are on the purist vision” of a completely decentralized internet, or on a definition based solely on the “ability to dive”, he adds, foreseeing “an inevitable controversy” in the future between the two visions.

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