Web3 is the term used to describe the “next level” of the Internet – following in the footsteps of web 1 (HTML or the “world wide web”) and web 2 (social media and the user-generated web).
although exactly what defines a web site, service or application is still the subject of some discussion, it is generally agreed that it will be decentralized, with infrastructure owned by the users and creators. It will also be closely connected to the real world because it is built on Internet of Things (IoT) technology and through the concept of immersive, connected environments (also known as the “metaverse†
It’s fair to say that as I write this post, web3 is very much a work-in-progress, and different people have some very different ideas of what it will look like in the end. However, the fundamental principles are highly operational today and are being used to create a new generation of digital platforms and services that are already pioneering the concepts. Here’s a look at some of the most interesting and innovative you can try today:
Some people might be surprised to see Bitcoin make such a list, but the fact is that despite being over a decade old (much older than the term web3), it was the first decentralized digital currency, the first application that uses blockchain and is still the most widely used. Newer cryptocurrencies and blockchain platforms like Ethereum or Solana may be more advanced and target web3 use cases like powering metaverse e-commerce, but Bitcoin itself still fits the definition of web3. Today, 36% of small businesses in the US would accept Bitcoin payments, and it is even recognized as legal tender in one country – El Salvador.
The blockchain network that powers the world’s second most popular cryptocurrency – Ether – as well as acting as a platform for many of the decentralized applications that make up the current iteration of web3. The Ethereum network was built on Bitcoin’s work in creating a decentralized, encrypted digital ledger, with the ability to run software code, known as decentralized apps (dapps), and even groups, corporations or corporations – known as distributed autonomous organizations (DAOs).
Pancakeswap is a popular exchange for trading and investing in cryptocurrencies and other decentralized tokens. It is built on the Binance smart chain – a smart blockchain network similar to the Ethereum network that can be used to build, launch and host other decentralized applications. Since cryptocurrencies and blockchain tokens are decentralized web3 apps themselves, it makes sense that users would want to trade them through networks that are themselves decentralized, rather than the original cryptocurrency exchanges, which were centralized and prone to disappear overnight and take users’ money. In theory, no single person or organization has control over a decentralized exchange, making it impossible for something similar to happen.
This is a decentralized messaging app that aims to become the web3 version of WhatsApp or WeChat. It aims to prioritize privacy and security by allowing users to connect without an email address or phone number, both of which can generally be traced back to individuals due to the centralized nature of the service providers hosting them. It also has built-in trading functionality for secure trading of cryptocurrencies and blockchain tokens such as NFTs.
This is an online virtual world – often referred to as a metaverse today – where users can meet, chat, play games, socialize and attend events. Users can buy or rent plots of virtual land using the platform’s proprietary cryptocurrency called MANA. In recent years, it has become popular with global brands and celebrities, including Samsung, Morgan Stanley, PwC, Adidas, and Snoop Dogg, who are all eager to have their own share of the metaverse. Decentraland is governed by a DAO composed of users and owners of land within the platform, which implements rules and regulations through a democratic process.
Essentially a YouTube style decentralized video streaming platform. Instead of a centralized company (in this case Youtube owner Alphabet) that controls which videos can be viewed and when they appear in users’ feeds. Importantly, they also decide which videos can be monetized and thus which users can monetize their videos. This is all done under a set of rules and regulations over which the site owners have complete control. DTube tries to put this power in the hands of its users, with all decisions about video visibility being driven by views, shares, and likes. There are no “owners”, in the traditional sense, who can censor uploaded content simply by removing it from their servers.
This is decentralized cloud storage for personal files, such as a decentralized Google Drive or OneDrive. It is completely open source, so anyone can examine the source code to determine that it actually does what it says it does and that there are no potential vulnerabilities that attackers could use to get to the data being stored. Users can offer their own additional storage space to the network and be paid for it in the service’s own cryptocurrency.
A decentralized social blogging site, similar to Reddit, where users can be paid for their content based on community votes. Steemit is built on its own blockchain called Steem and uses its own cryptocurrency of the same name. At the time of writing, 1.7 million accounts are registered with the platform.
Everledger is a private, centralized company that offers a number of decentralized solutions that run on private blockchains. These aim to provide transparency, accountability and provenance in supply chains across a variety of sectors, including art, luxury goods, diamonds and fashion. It differs slightly from other examples of web3 applications in that it is built on Hyperledger Fabric, originally developed by IBM, and its focus is on creating proprietary, industry-specific solutions. This shows that there are many different views on what web3 is and where the future of the decentralized internet is headed.
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