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Understaing Web3

Web3 for Dummies...

If you're new to Web3, you might feel overwhelmed at the volume of new words and abbreviations being thrown around.

Before you dive into the sea of jargon surrounding Web3, you should begin by understanding where it all started, how it's going, and what the future of the internet will look like.

It just so happens that we've written a blog for this exact purpose - it's almost as if we knew you were coming...

...Web3 for Einsteins

Congratulations! You've been promoted from a Dummy to an Enstein. Now its time to get into the nitty-gritty of Web3 and learn what Meiyo would look like if it made the transition.

Get your snorkel out because we're about to dive into a sea of jargon like you wouldn't believe.

Web3 for Dummies...

Your tinfoil hat is out for delivery

Andrew Morrin, Director, Elmdon Studios

In the early days of the internet, websites were essentially read-only documents that provided limited value compared to the websites we see today, yet even this basic functionality required a deep understanding of the network protocols, programming languages and hardware requirements that made it all possible. This was Web 1.0. If I wanted to create a website in the 90s, my first question would probably have been “what is a website?”, and most answers would probably have led to more questions such as “what is the internet?”

Enter APIs, or Application Programming Interfaces. APIs allow different programs to interact with each other, and can be designed to standardise and simplify processes that would otherwise need to be coded from scratch. The genius of APIs can be illustrated through the ‘log in’ system. Prior to the API, each web developer needed to write their own code that enabled visitors to create an account or log in. Nowadays, many unrelated websites use the same “Log in with Facebook” button powered by the Facebook API, hence they no longer need to write their own code. Long story short, APIs have made the internet much more accessible to the masses, turning websites from read-only documents to interactive applications and catapulting us into the digital age that we recognise today. This is Web 2.0.

Credit where credit is due, companies like Facebook (Meta) have removed the barriers we faced in the early days of the internet, but Web 2.0 doesn’t come without its own problems. You buy goods on Amazon, sell them on Ebay, post your opinions on Facebook and ask questions to Google. You stream movies on Netflix and music on Spotify, and consume this content on your Apple device. Do you remember what you did on this day five years ago? No? Facebook does. Believe it or not, these companies know you better than you do. They control everything you see based on what’s most likely to get a reaction, and they don’t care how it makes you feel. Remember when we used to ‘like’ posts on social media? Now we ‘react’ to them.

Your tinfoil hat is out for delivery.

Conspiracy theory jokes aside, there is no doubt our physical and digital lives have become intertwined and monopolised by these technology giants. It’s not about supervillains and evil schemes, it’s about a broken system that entices you with a carrot and retains you with a stick. The carrot is the APIs that let you use the internet without knowing what a hypertext transfer protocol is (ever noticed https:// in the search bar of your browser?), and the stick is the endless buzz of notifications bringing you back online.

Don’t like carrots? Try cookies. These delicious treats keep tabs on everything you do so companies like Facebook can show you content that you’re more likely to react to. It’s not too concerning if Netflix uses cookies to suggest shows you’re more likely to enjoy, but it turns sinister when you find out TikTok users in the US are sending biometric information such as faceprints, voice prints and typing patterns to a company based in China. Sometime between the decline of Blockbuster and the rise of the Instagram influencer we gave up control of our lives in return for funny cat videos and conspiracy theories, and though social media was designed to bring us together, we’ve never been more divided.

As with many things in life, the quest to fix the internet is more about the journey than the destination. To find the cure, we must start by describing the symptoms, as we have already done, then endeavour to find the root cause. Proponents of Web 3.0 support the consensus that the issues of Web 2.0 stem from the fact that the internet is highly centralised, meaning that a few companies have near complete control of the platforms that we use. For example, Facebook does not need your permission to update its security capabilities, nor does it need your permission to adjust creator fees. The result is a platform that does not serve the interests of its users.

Web 3.0 supposedly combats this problem through decentralisation, in which the governance and direction of platforms are dictated by the community. Don’t fret, I’m not about to start explaining the blockchain, crypto, NFTs and DAOs because that would be just as boring as describing the hypertext transfer protocol you use to browse the web. As we discovered with Web 2.0, most people want to know how to use the internet, not how to describe it. The bottom line is that new technologies empower online communities to democratically govern their platforms and verify who owns what, while preventing any single entity from growing too powerful and changing the rules to the detriment of everyone else.

So far however, most platforms claiming to uphold Web 3.0 values are simply not telling the truth. To justify this claim, let’s take a trip down memory lane: The dot com bubble of the late 90s and early 2000s began because investors didn’t realise that novel technologies like the internet are not valuable in and of themselves. During the hype, ‘.com’ companies without a solid business plan could raise investment by arguing that the internet itself was going to do all the heavy lifting. When investors finally caught wind that the internet is just a means to an end and that the end was a business with no customers, the bubble burst. Since humans have little appetite for learning from past mistakes, it’s not surprising that speculative Web 3.0 bubbles have followed the same pattern. Web 3.0 is still a means to an end, and no amount of rah-rah speculation from the Web 3.0 community will make up for a lack of intrinsic value. Nevertheless, the boom-bust cycle continues as new Web 3.0 projects showing the tell-tale signs of ponzi-like “pump and dump” schemes (where manipulative speculation drives up the price of assets before early investors sell them en masse, causing the price of the asset to crash) are brought to market.

The truth has also been warped by the creators of some of the more successful projects. Feel free to disagree, but using Web 3.0 technologies does not mean your project upholds Web 3.0 values. For example, most projects operate on a model in which a community member’s voting power is proportional to their platform-related wealth (i.e. how much virtual currency they own). This means richer members have more control than poorer members. Furthermore, the creators of some of the early Web 3.0 Metaverses (virtual worlds) have limited the amount of land in the world so they can auction it off to the highest bidder. This gives wealthier members an advantage over poorer members and provides the same opportunities for monopolisation that are found in Web 2.0. This concoction of Web 3.0 technologies and Web 2.0 ideas results in a Web 2.5 purgatory that we must leave behind.

For Web 3.0 to flourish, it must uphold the principles of free-market egalitarianism (equal opportunities for all) and a form of meritocracy that grants influence to individuals based on their contribution to the community. The truth is this system is neither a Capitalist wet dream nor a Marxist nightmare; all political systems (no matter how great their intentions) can be manipulated by cunning elitists because the rules of the system are entrusted to human beings. Take the US for example: the 1973 Roe v Wade case resulted in the ruling by Supreme Court that women have the constitutional right to have an abortion. Fast forward to 2022 and the Supreme Court has stripped this right away. What is the point in a constitution if a judge whom none of us voted for can strip away our rights? The same problem is inherent to Web 2.0.

Web 3.0 technologies avoid these problems by allowing us to write the rules into a computer program, ensuring there is only ever one interpretation. I’m not suggesting we install an android president and enforce our laws with an army of RoboCops, but there is potential to use this idea to protect Web 3.0 platforms from self-serving monopolisers.


I intend to use Web 3.0 as the technological means to an egalitarian, meritocratic end, and my message to those who feel let down by Web 2.0 is clear: come with me if you want to live.

Web3 for Einsteins...

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