Hey Trish. So many ppl I know keep talking about web3. What is web3? How is it different from the internet?”
Hi, and thank you so much for this fantastic question! I want to begin by validating your confusion: trust me, you’re not the only person confused about what web3 is or why so many people are so excited about it. Despite the fact that web3 is getting a ton more attention recently, there hasn’t been very much web3 education – especially for youth. But don’t worry: we’re going to change that! And it’s a good thing because web3 is a great thing to be educated on. In this blog post, I’ll give you a brief run-down on web3, and in doing so, a brief overview of a few related topics: blockchain technology, cryptocurrency, and NFTs. Let’s dive in!
Before we get into web3, it’s helpful to start with a brief, simplified overview of blockchain technology. You may have heard of the term “blockchain.” Simply put, “blockchain” refers to a fancy database; the “chain” is made up of individual data “blocks.” In particular, it’s a “digital ledger” that stores data of any kind. Okay; cool – but why are so many people so excited about it? Well, blockchain is special because it is completely decentralized; in other words, rather than one copy of data on one machine, with blockchain, several identical copies of the ledger are maintained on several machines. When new data blocks are added to the chain, all machines update their blockchain ledger. This process is pretty special – because adding data blocks is done in a way that is highly secure: all of the machines must verify the legitimacy of the new data before it can be added as a block. This means blockchain can facilitate things like financial services.
And that leads us right into cryptocurrency. It’s very likely you’ve heard of cryptocurrency, often referred to as “crypto.” Cryptocurrency is just that – a currency (just like US dollars) – that is a digital asset. Okay; great – why does that matter? Well, with cryptocurrency, you can complete an online transaction/payment without an intermediary like a bank or a government. And that’s a huge deal! Most cryptocurrencies work through blockchain technology: each unit of currency is tracked via the blockchain’s secure ledger, which as discussed, verifies the legitimacy of transactions. This ensures that cryptocurrency isn’t subject to fraud, like counterfeit or double-spending. This security is one of crypto’s key strengths. Some critics, however, believe that crypto is good for nothing: because it’s decentralized/not backed by a government, the value of crypto can change wildly; further, because crypto isn’t issued by a government (and thus isn’t subject to its oversight), it’s often used for criminal activity. Regardless of how you feel about crypto, though, most everyone agrees: it has already started to dramatically change our world.
Last stop before “web3” is the concept of NFTs. What are NFTs? “NFT” stands for “non-fungible token.” Simply put, NFTs are a way to claim ownership of an online file. Historically, it’s been pretty hard to do that: as you probably know, you can really easily duplicate digital files. If someone puts, say, their artwork out on the internet, all it takes is one click and a “Save” to get your own copy. But the emergence of blockchain technology changed the game: with blockchain technology, you could create unique digital files, the ownership of which could be easily tracked on the blockchain. NFTs don’t prevent you from clicking and hitting “Save”; what they do, however, is allow folks to identify and track the “original” copy via the blockchain ledger. In many ways, then, an NFT is kind of like a receipt from the grocery store. The reason all of this matters? Because with NFTs, now, digital assets can become scarce – and thus, valuable. In the past, putting something up on the internet meant losing all control of it; now, you might actually be able to sell it – potentially for millions.
With all of that background, we’re now prepared to answer the post’s original question: what the heck is “web3”? web3 is just a fancy term that folks in the tech industry are using to describe an internet characterized by decentralized blockchain technology – where cryptocurrencies and NFTs abound! The reason these folks have given this world its own, special name is because in web3, the internet will be really decentralized, really owned by “the people.” Folks have grand visions for web3, from NFT online stores to decentralized social networks. We’ll see what materializes – but suffice to say that the internet industry is excited about it.
I hope this week’s TikTok was fun and informative for you! If you want to keep the ~hilarious~ content coming (thank you, TikTok side effects!), remember to share your note, question, or thought here. Your topic just might be featured in an upcoming TikTok/blog post! Remember, nothing is off limits: on Ask Trish, I’ve discussed everything from revenge porn to talking to your parents about tech. The reality is, everyone’s #InternetIssues are diverse – but they all matter! Know that you can always share whatever you’re feeling 💙 Thank you in advance for bringing your authentic perspectives and thoughts to our community.
Talk to you all next Tuesday! Until then, with love,