Preparing for Web 3.0
Ernest Cline’s sci-fi novel, Ready Player One, centers on users’ experience within the OASIS—a highly advanced, fully immersive simulation. In the book, people prefer living in virtual reality rather than their own because of all the information and possibilities it offers.
Here in 2022, we’re likely a long way off from any recreation of Cline’s imagined technological progress. But that progress is still happening, including within one of our most important tools of all—the Internet.
In fact, we are on the brink of the latest iteration, Web 3.0, which promises to usher in a new era of connectivity through the support of new technologies.
Given how much business has gone online, this new frontier could change quite a bit in that digital economy. But before you can discern how Web 3.0 will affect your organization, it’s important to first know what it is you might soon be dealing with.
Schellman has experience with the business use of cryptography. In fact, we’ve recently established a practice entirely focused on crypto and digital trust services based on seven years of applying Bitcoin technology to digital life applications. Our leadership in emerging industry initiatives means we have a good grasp of Web 3.0, and we want to help you obtain the same.
In this article, we will detail the rise of Web 3.0, what exactly it is, how it will be adopted, and what’s stopping it from wider acceptance at this point. Don’t be caught off-guard when the new Internet and new tech changes our landscape—read on and establish your knowledge base right now.
What is Web 3.0?
You might be wondering now, “if we’re about to be on 3.0, did I miss 2.0?”
You didn’t—we’ve already been through Web 1.0, which was the first emergence of the Internet in the 90s, and we’re currently working with Web 2.0.
After those first few web pages, unprecedented interactivity and user-generated content jumpstarted the 2.0 we enjoy now. Thanks to popular apps like Twitter, Amazon, and YouTube, online connectivity has already exploded, supported by similar advancement in mobile devices.
Just like 2.0 represented a paradigm shift in Internet use, 3.0 promises a similar seismic change powered by newer technology. It offers the possibility of a more trustworthy, decentralized, user-directed, and more intelligent public network.
Right now, tech giants largely control the web. But with the new technology architecture coming—including blockchain, decentralized verifiable credentials, and machine learning—that infrastructure will allow greater control to users. That means owning your own identity and content, less surveilled advertising, and more data privacy. Some are hailing this as a return to what some argue were the core concepts of the original internet—openness and greater utility for everyone.
Web 3.0 will allow more ways to be peer-to-peer, meaning we’ll transact more without going through a governing body and interact without a middleman. It’ll make for a much fairer internet, since each individual will be in charge, but such change will likely also bring with it issues that will need to be ironed out.
What Lies Ahead for Web 3.0?
Web 3.0 hasn’t yet been fully architected so we remain mostly in the dark regarding its definition and deployment strategy.
But such a revolutionary change will surely feature many multi-layered factors that’ll need to be built and accepted by the public before viral adoption becomes possible. For now, we can infer that it’ll take a familiar implementation lifecycle:
- Technical Feasibility
- Most Web 3.0 technologies are based on cryptographic architectures that were originally devised before Web 1.0 caught fire in the 1990s, though they didn’t become viable global options until the viral rise of Bitcoin in the 2010s.
- That rise is not attributed to its foundational technology but by the grass-roots proliferation by Bitcoin miner acolytes who championed it as a viable currency alternative.
- Technical Endowment
- The promotion of Bitcoin gave rise to the development of blockchain technology.
- Eventually, major players such as IBM and Walmart invested in such for a variety of purposes including the data immutability, redundancy, and availability properties.
- This has led to a surge in public hype of all things “crypto” as the key ingredient in the Web 3.0 soup.
- Government Recognition
- Revolutionary technology needs government sponsorship at some point. Within the last two years, major governments have begun to recognize and promote digital trust applications for their constituencies.
- We’re seeing this in the EU (eIDAS 2.0), U.K. ( K. digital Identity and attributes trust framework), Canada (Pan-Canadian Trust Framework), and now even in the United States (California Trust Framework).
What are the Barriers to Adoption and Acceptance of Web 3.0?
Obviously, there will still need to be a monumental effort to realize the full potential of Web 3.0 technologies. And that will mean overcoming the current hurdles:
- Standards: The decentralized nature of Web 3.0 technologies presents a fundamental conflict between profit-seeking tech companies and open-source libertarians. These two groups have different ideas regarding how interoperability standards are developed and proliferated. The debate rages on in standards bodies and will likely continue until profit motives and user rights can reach a compromise.
- Accountability: Governance and accreditation standards have not been established. That needs to happen in order to drive critical confidence needed for broad acceptance. The Trust Over IP Foundation leads this effort, but the work continues.
- Ease of Use: Web 3.0 technologies will require a significant amount of understanding and instruction for the global population of unsophisticated users who will need to access, accept, and rely on it. Right now, it’s not helping to see published reports of crypto private key loss ( “What Happens When You Lose Your Bitcoin's Wallet Private Keys”).
- Underlying Infrastructure: Full utility still requires underlying technology that is not fully built. Web 3.0 tech requires an interconnected governance and technology stack of data, networks, smart wallets, and governing authorities to work in harmony to achieve a common applicable objective. Think of Web 3.0 technologies as a car—the car exists, but we still need roads, signage, & traffic controls if we want to really get from A to B.
- Breakthrough Application(s): For Web 1.0, search and e-commerce were the killer apps that launched a revolution. The same for Web 3.0 have yet to emerge, and who knows what they’ll be?
What’s Next for Web 3.0?
Though we may be decades off from Ernest Cline’s imagined, immersive virtual reality, the Internet is on the brink of something big. For now, though, it’ll be a process to cross the bridge through all the necessary changes and obstacles before we reach the other side.
Web 3.0 remains a brand new, somewhat unknown, and yet interesting frontier, but now you know where things stand in terms of its progress.
As part of the development of our new practice, Schellman will continue to produce more explanatory content surrounding Web 3.0, its supporting technologies, and the effects on digital trust and compliance.
But if you have any pressing questions, please feel free to go ahead and reach out to us, as we’d be happy to deconstruct any specific concerns you may have.
About Scott Perry
Scott Perry is a Principal at Schellman where he heads up its crypto and digital trust services practice. Prior to joining Schellman in 2022, Scott owned and operated his own firm specializing in cybersecurity consulting audits and governance, GRC implementation, digital identity and verifiable credentials, and WebTrust. Scott is also a Steering Committee member and co-Chairs the Governance Stack Working Group for the Trust Over IP Foundation (a Linux Foundation project). Scott has worked with the world's most respected SSL-certificate issuers, aerospace and defense companies, and government agencies. He has authored and contributed to a comprehensive governance and trust assurance methodology suite for Trust Over IP, has written a key chapter on Trust Assurance in a published book on Self Sovereign Identity and the FinClusive Rulebook. As a hands-on crypto and cybersecurity consultant and auditor, Scott provides deep and impactful advice that you would expect from a leader in the field.