The Web3 Vision: A User-Owned Online Future

Overview The prospect of a new internet, Web3, is for many the futurist vision of an online universe that’s secure and decentralized. It’s an internet untethered from service-provider terms and servers. It blends with the metaverse for immersive 3D experiences in a digital landscape that users create. Cryptocurrency comes in as the anonymous blockchain-based capital of Web3 marketplaces. Here’s a look at this evolving user-driven ecosystem.

Today’s Web2 internet, a staple resource for information, purchases and entertainment, is at the same time an ISP-controlled data grabber - not always a secure one - with a voracious appetite for consumer intel. We’re obliged to feed it our personally identifiable information to access goods and services hosted by entities that determine how, or if, we engage online.

Web3, say its proponents, will change that. They envision a decentralized, global network with services and features designed, owned and operated by individual users. Skeptics call that a pipedream. 

Yet aspects of Web3 are already in place, and they’re based on a solid technology. The Web3 backbone is blockchain, and it accommodates a wide range of features and decentralized applications, or dapps, in wide use today for gaming, financial transactions, supply chain and more. They behave similarly to traditional Web2 sites with a core programmed to operate on blockchain networks of which there are many. Examples include Ethereum and IBM Blockchain.  
Because these applications are based on blockchain, Web3 sites afford more user anonymity and security than many of today’s websites that live on centralized, ISP-owned servers. Other advantages, as well as advances, in this highly dynamic space will be showcased at CES® 2023 with the associated technologies’ authorities on hand to share their insights.  

Web3: Who’s On Board and Why

Most experts agree that a total revamp of Web2 is far from imminent. Others maintain that Web3 will evolve as a complement to today’s internet. Blockchain provides the sound technological base that’s advancing adoption of Web3 sites and commerce. Acceptance is being spurred  by a blossoming sector in distributed finance, or DeFi, whose constituents  value the anonymity and security that blockchain technology extends to transactions.
Entrepreneurs and creatives are early adopters, as well. For example, filmmakers can now display and distribute their projects online without involving a platform like Hulu, Livestream or Twitch for hosting, distribution and monetization.
Veteran filmmaker Kevin Smith released an NFT-exclusive production, KillRoy Was Here, in July. Launched on the Legendao platform, only those with the NFT (non-fungible token) crypto key could access the film at its debut. Legendao, a creation of SCRT Labs – the development team behind Secret Network - is billed as the first-ever NFT mint lab. A raft of like-minded creatives have gotten involved through projects that include FLIX, a crypto-token intended to upend independent film financing, production and distribution. FLIX was founded by American Meme, an indie-film production company, itself a creative content disruptor. It’s helmed by the cinematic talent known for Snowpiercer and PREY, Ben Rosenblatt and Micho Rutare.
Then there’s the gaming industry as a Web3 adoption driver. In that digital domain, gamers can create their own characters, costumes and tools or weapons – even license and sell them – at will. The sector’s denizens are flocking to blockchain platforms. Particularly popular are Mythical Games, OpenSea and Animoca Brands whose Sandbox is an NFT gaming hit.

Metaverse: Everything, Everywhere for Everyone

Complementary to Web3, the metaverse enriches user experiences on the decentralized internet through virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR) and mixed reality (MR). It’s a virtual place where users interact in 3D as they would in real life and in real time. While experts assess adoption factors differently, they seem to agree that the metaverse isn’t the same thing as Web3. They also concur on interdependencies. As the metaverse matures, it will depend on, and benefit from, features enabled by Web3. These include tokenization whereby currency and transaction value is captured entirely virtually.
Even though metaverse ubiquity may be many years in the future, its potential intrigues industry-watchers. Imagine, for example, that you’re buying furniture. Instead of flipping through static web pages, you walk into the virtual showroom at midnight in your pajamas the day before a holiday weekend. You’re immediately greeted by a salesperson dedicated to your shopping experience as you assemble the pieces you need. You complete your Web3 purchase in well under an hour via cryptocurrency (Helium, Chainlink, Filecoin or Theta are among the current options) drawn from your crypto wallet on an exchange like Coinbase or Binance. You’ve just enjoyed a hyper-personalized, ultra-convenient shopping experience with a vendor that might be three continents away from your condo in Cleveland.
Fully immersive and interactive, the metaverse is a shared digital reality with the potential, say its champions, to become tomorrow’s workspaces, concert halls, vacation destinations or whatever else currently requires brick and mortar, plus your physical presence.

Parting Thoughts On the Digital Future

In simplest terms, the new online world may be thought of this way: Web3 is the “how” and metaverse is the “where” of the internet’s reframing. With Web3, users leverage a stack of blockchain technologies to create and control their identity and content. They can then populate their virtual, metaverse spaces with those constructs. Using Web3 applications, users will one day frequent online marketplaces as buyers, sellers, traders or reviewers. They’ll employ a service like Coinbase or Ledger to open and fund crypto wallets they’ll use to acquire goods with crypto assets in the form of, for example, Bitcoin or Ethereum. NFTs will be a key tool for validating identity and ownership.
Web3, while real, is in its infancy. Its emergence is being hastened by developers, entrepreneurs and corporate visionaries for innumerable applications in finance, retail, the arts and entertainment. Tech leaders in these and other sectors aren’t waiting around to improve on the internet’s status quo. Explore how the digital future is unfolding. Find out what’s next, and new, at CES 2023 January 5-8.


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