what is “web3”, the new age of the internet?

A fashionable concept that excites both the technology sphere and communicators, “web3” is presented by its followers as the new version of the Internet, more decentralized and based on “blockchain”, the technology behind NFTs and cryptocurrencies.

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

. What development of the Internet embodies “web3”?

“Web3” would be the third age in the history of the Internet, succeeding, according to its defenders, by Web 1.0, which ruled from the early 1990s to the mid-2000s, and by Web 2.0, hegemonic since 2010 ‘ decades.

Embodied by actors like Yahoo! or AOL, Web 1.0 refers to the first use of the Internet with its static pages that essentially allow information to be consulted, or the sending of emails.

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

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

To the number three (“three” in English) is thus added the meaning of “free”, which evokes the return of an Internet which is more independent of states as of the giants of the net, as was the case in ‘origin.

What technology allows this development?

“Web3” is closely related to the technology of “blockchain”, a kind of huge digital register that is shared between a multitude of users, without central authority and is considered to be unadulterated, which shows the entire history of the transactions.

Born after the financial crisis of 2008, the most famous “blockchain” is Bitcoin and its associated cryptocurrency, which is completely virtual. Many others have since been launched such as Ethereum, Solana or Polygon.

It is on these “blockchains” that projects and applications stamped “web3” are based, such as non-fungible tokens (NFT), non-reproducible digital authentication certificates that derive their value from the real or virtual object to which they are linked. …

Enough to give the internet user as much decision-making power as ownership of what he creates or consumes on the network.

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

“It’s what will make it possible to reinvent a whole lot of industries, whether it’s art, music or sports,” he adds.

Is the metaverse part of “web3”?

Although connected, in particular by the “blockchain” technology and the ability to hold digital assets such as NFTs in them, “web3” and metaverse describe two different concepts.

The metaverse driven to the stage in the summer of 2021 denotes a digital and social universe that must expand physical reality via augmented or virtual reality and move the Internet from 2D to 3D.

Is its promise enough to reconcile it with the “web3” revolution, while the meta-verse is especially borne by Meta (Facebook), one of the flagship companies of Web 2.0 and symbol of a centralized vision of the Internet?

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

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

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