More Than a Meme – The Case for Web3
This article answers once and for all how many webs are there, why they are numbered and what Web3 brings - not only for music lovers.
Sometimes a disruptive technology comes along that changes your life, your work, and your business. The Internet was one of them. Imagine life without it? Unthinkable for most of us.
But the Web2 Goliaths, yesterday's disruptors, are about to be disrupted themselves. And with that, a new online landscape is shaping.
What we are buzzing about is Web3, the internet’s next iteration which will revolutionize your online experience and opportunities as a user and as a professional.
You ask yourself how? Join us on a journey from the early days of the Internet (Web1) to the dawn of social media (Web2) and the advent of David.
Read on – Web 1
“Where do you want to go today?” was Microsoft's slogan in 1994, as the Internet slowly began to take hold.
It was the time when interoperable, open-source Internet protocols allowed us to create an open and decentralized information network, read static websites and send letters electronically and instantly – instead of sending them with Mr. Postman.
The world was becoming more connected and a little faster. Publishing was reserved for media companies. For readers, Web1 was read only.
From static to dynamic – The Web2 (business model)
Then at the turn of the millennium, Silicon Valley was full of companies with big ideas. Ideas they wanted to monetize.
But how to monetize an open protocol? It was difficult (at the time). So instead, Amazon, Facebook and Twitter became gated services rather than open protocols. And they monetized us (our data) well.
And so Web2 became the era of gated services, the most successful of which was social media. We became more connected as communication got easier and more interactive. By 2022, 4.59 billion people were using social media platforms. Users became creators and their user data became the product of Web2 giants.
Businesses consume this data for targeted advertising, Web2's biggest value proposition. In 2021, Meta generated 98% of its revenue from advertising. Nearly $118 billion. That is how much the currency of Web2 – our attention – is worth.
Social media and targeted advertising have proven to be effective tools for companies to grow their audience. Otherwise, they wouldn't be paying $118 billion, would they?
The shortcoming of Web2
The flip side of the coin is – you guessed it – privacy concerns.
And as we spend more time online, our online identities have become more important. But in Web2, our online identity and reputation are not interoperable because they belong to the platform we use.
But with the advent of Web3, the tide is turning. How? Let's put you in the driver's seat for a ride in the exciting vehicle that is Web3 to see what this new world looks like.
A day in the life of a Web3 user – Use cases and applications
Like every Web3 enthusiast, you roll out of your bed to check crypto Twitter. Wait! That was Web2.
One wallet, instead of a hundred accounts
Instead, you log into your wallet. Your wallet is the Web3 equivalent of an account. The difference is, you can use it to access all sorts of Web3 apps. Permissionless, without an account.
Self-custody of digital assets
Your wallet is where you store all of your digital assets in self-custody. For example, cryptocurrencies, insurance policies, book club memberships and your PFPs (profile pictures and assets with a unique, digital identity).
But that's not what tonight is about. You have a ticket for your favorite band that is in town tonight. Which, of course, you also keep in your wallet.
Access to Web3 communities
What makes tonight special is that you also have a fan token that will give you backstage access after the show. The fan token not only gives you a direct connection to the talent you love, but also to the community that has formed around them, sharing the same passion as you.
As the time approaches, a member of your community wants to join you, but the show is already sold out. Luckily, someone has listed a ticket for sale on the secondary market.
To buy the ticket for your friend, you connect your wallet to a marketplace. To buy the ticket, you sign (confirm) the transaction in your wallet. The assets, i.e., the currency and the ticket, are now transferred between the two wallets, without an intermediary.
Even though there is high demand for the tickets, the maximum resale value of the ticket is limited to the original price. This is immutably coded into the ticket to prevent scalpers from profiting from you. At the same time, 5% of all ticket sales automatically go to an NGO that protects the Amazon rainforest. One of the common goals of your community.
Tokens replace subscriptions
After the concert, your fan token allows you to get token-gated access to a live recording on Spotify.
As you can see, Web3 embeds economics and brings a range of new use cases to the internet. It allows users to monetize and take ownership within networks. The potential use cases do not end here, but listing them all is beyond the scope of this article.
|Platform owned||User owned|
|Read, write||Read, write, own|
|Applications||Closed, permissioned||Open, permissionless|
|Profile||One account per platform||One wallet for all Web3 apps|
|Identity||Locked in the platform||Linked to the wallet|
|User||Online renter||Online owner|
|User data||Belongs to the platform||Belongs to the user|
|Privacy||In the hand of platforms||In the hand of users|
|Governance||In the hand of platforms||Programmed in protocol design|
|Monetization||Targeted advertising, subscriptions||App fees and asset sales|
The Web3 technology stack
If you are wondering what makes Web3 possible, here's the tech stack:
- Owning things on the Internet is possible thanks to blockchain technology. Read “What is a Blockchain?” to take a deep dive into this revolutionary technology.
- Blockchains have a public ledger that stores the record of ownership of cryptocurrencies…
- …and NFTs, which can represent all the assets we mentioned above in form of tokens.
A Web3 strategy
From an audience to a community: Time Magazine and TimePieces
But what does a successful Web3 strategy look like? TimePieces, a century-old company, recently made a successful foray into Web3.
In an interview with Ledger, former President of TIME magazine Keith A. Grossman, shares his foray into Web3.
In September 2021, TIME launched TIMEPieces, a Web3 community initiative under Grossman's leadership. This included releasing its first art collection, called Build a Better Future, which consisted of 4,676 NFTs of 37 artworks.
Keith explains that NFTs can be used to turn your consumers into a community that gathers behind the same idea, a set of values, or goals. He goes on to say that Time had the opportunity to “evolve with a real-time feedback cycle” from its community. A community that wants the project to succeed.
In Keith's view, media brands that rely on extracting consumer data will soon lose their business model.
With that in mind, TIMEPieces owners can connect their wallets to times.com to access content on the site and get access to physical events without sharing their personal information.
Instead of a subscription model or extracting user data, TIME receives 10% of each token sale on the secondary market.
Challenges of Web3
What Web3 has to offer is nothing short of a digital revolution. However, the technology underpinning Web3 is still in its infancy, and companies looking to venture into Web3 are entering uncharted waters few have traversed before.
What is the value of a community versus an audience? How to design an NFT? Which blockchain to use?
For users, the first steps may be easier. While some may shy away from blockchain technology amid the news of hacks and exploits, Web3 welcomed 119 million new holders of digital assets in 2022. An increase of 39%.
With change comes opportunity
The landscape of the Web is changing. And in times of change and innovation, opportunities are abundant. We hope you are inspired to join our journey into the new frontier of the Web.
Want to dive deeper? Get a detailed definition and expand your knowledge of the components and philosophy behind Web3 in our blog, “What is Web3? Separating Facts from Fiction.”
What the meme?!
Web3? Yes, we can! Just do it!
Life’s a meme. And memes play an important role in Web3 communities. When blockchain can seem nerdy and complicated, they provide the visual shortcut behind a story or idea that brings people together.
In that sense, Web3 is a meme too. But to be fair, it is much more than that.