You might not have even realized there was a second web and now we’re already on the third! “Web2” refers to the familiar modern internet we all know: social media, website content, and traditional e-commerce. The term “Web3” was coined to encompass everything happening around the “blockchain” (which is a decentralized digital network).
You may know a little about the blockchain as it relates to cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin or Ethereum. Those currencies require records to be copied to many places in their digital networks, making it nearly impossible for anyone to fraudulently fake a transaction. Since this blockchain technology is so useful for ownership authentication and transparency, it started being used for NFTs (non-fungible tokens). Things like digital collectibles or unique event passes can be “minted” as NFTs, meaning the asset becomes a unique collectible on the blockchain (kind of like an artist signing a painting for authenticity). The NFTs can then be traded without disputes arising about who owns what or which assets are authentic.
The most notable feature of the blockchain is decentralization. In the Web2 world, if most of your money is kept in one certain bank, there is risk of fraud or failure and you could lose everything. On the blockchain, tons of different points, like validators and miners, on the network are keeping track of your cryptocurrency, which puts you in full control of your own digital assets. It takes the keys away from big institutions and returns them to you, reducing your risk. The same principles apply for things like digital collectibles or event passes, which could otherwise be easily faked without the decentralized nature of many copies of each transaction.
On a broader note, some people are wary of the current state of our world in which a large amount of our online activity is centralized within a few big technology companies. Web3’s decentralization is seen as a move towards a more stable and trustworthy internet society. But you don’t need to buy into that whole philosophy to be excited about this growing online ecosystem. If you’re new to Web3, a great way to get started is to explore the creator-driven, fan-enabling entertainment-related NFTs on OP3N’s platform!