Web3 - What It Is and How Does It Work

spaceship on an orange background

Web3 is hot.

Really hot.

Seems like everybody is talking about it. But the thing is: Most people don’t understand what it means.

Including me.

That was why I wanted to write this article. This is my chance to do research and try to answer the questions I had about Web3.

So let’s get started.

So... What is Web3?

People seem to have different ways of defining Web3.

99% of them are very confusing.

I like to think of Web3 as a new way of thinking about the internet.

What’s wrong with the internet?

There’s nothing inherently “wrong.”

The current internet era, apparently called Web 2.0, is revolutionary.

You see, before Web 2.0, there’s Web 1.0.

During that era, most people on the web just consume content. Most of the creators are developers who knew how to build websites.

In short, Web 1.0 was the read-only web.

Then came Web 2.0. This is when things get more interactive.

People no longer just consume content. They can create content themselves.

Everyone can be a creator. If you want to craft a thought and share it with the world, you can. If you want to upload a video to share your life, you can do that too.

People are creating more than ever, and Web 2.0 is exactly why I get to write on this blog.

But, there are some underlying downsides too.

People are starting to realize that:

  1. They don’t own and control their data online
  2. Their data is being harvested by centralized, big tech companies for advertising

Don’t believe me?

Imagine this: Tomorrow, without any warning, your entire Instagram account gets deleted. Or, if you’re a YouTuber, all of your videos get deleted in an instance.

These big tech companies can do this. They have the power. And we can’t do anything about it.

So... how does Web3 fix this?

The common consensus is: With Web3, people can finally own what they have on the Internet.

Because in Web 3, ownership and control are decentralized.

On a high-level overview, this means that the internet will no longer be controlled by centralized, big tech companies. Instead, the users of the internet will control and manage it.

Also, users and builders can own pieces of internet services, like owning a piece of land, by owning tokens.

Oh no... not a new word

Don’t worry. Tokens are easier to understand.

Think of tokens as a record that you own something in the digital world.

More jargons extend from a token, but let’s not get into them for now.

Okay... but how is Web3 possible?

Because of another hot phrase: blockchain technology.

To understand how blockchain works, we need to understand how the internet in Web 2.0 (the present era) works.

Currently, we follow a “client-server”, or centralized, network.

First off, what’s a network?

A network is a group of interconnected devices that exchange information. Remember how you can send images easily to your Mac from your iPhone using Airdrop?

different devices
Source

These devices can be connected in three ways:

  1. Local network
  2. By a cable
  3. Wireless (Wifi)

Cool. Then what is a “client-server” / centralized network?

Check out this graphic below.

centralized network
Source

Throw away your definition of a “client” first. It means something different in computer science.

A “client-server” is a computer system.

In this system, a central server (the dark blue building) provides data to a lot of networked stations (all the devices). It does a few important things:

  1. It stores all device’s data
  2. It handles all the transactions on the internet

In the real world, the dark blue building is any of the big tech companies (Facebook, Instagram, Tiktok, etc).

With a “client-server” network, users can get all the benefits from the platform. However, there are some serious issues such as:

  1. All the private data can be stolen by hacking one server
  2. The user has no control over how their data is being used

People like to be in control. As a result, a new type of network has slowly emerged.

What is it?

peer to peer network
Source

People call it the “decentralized”, or “peer-to-peer” network.

As you can see from the graphic, there’s no more dark blue building. There’s no centralized “server” anymore.

Instead, every device is connected to another, and it goes on and on. All information on the network is constantly recorded and transferred between individual users.

peer to peer network
Source

Now, see those tiny human beings?

Let’s call them nodes or peers.

Hence, the name “peer-to-peer”, or P2P, network is formed. It’s a distributed network that stores and transfers data without a centralized dark blue building.

nodes in peer to peer network
Source

But how does this relate to blockchain?

Well, blockchain is built on top of the peer-to-peer network!

So, I’m a bit lost...

We went over a lot. So let’s ground you a bit.

This article is about Web3.

And Web3 is a decentralized platform. On it, people can own and control what they have on the internet.

So, no more big tech using our data.

And this is possible because of blockchain technology that is built on top of a “peer-to-peer network.” No more dark blue building controlling everything. Only people transferring data directly to each other.

My Take

Phew.

This was probably the most frustrating article to write so far.

Because a lot of Web3 resources are not beginner-friendly at all.

I had a hard time trying to understand exactly what Web3 means.

In the four stages of competence, I’m probably still at Stage 1 (I don’t know what I don’t know). It’s very difficult to understand Web3 technology as a non-technical person.

And honestly, as a college student, I don’t quite see the point of “owning my data.” I mean, my life still goes on whether I enter Web3 or not.

But, it never hurts to try to learn about it.

Further Readings

And that’s a wrap!

Thank you for being awesome and reading this far! :) If you have any questions, feel free to reach out on LinkedIn or by email. Will love to set up a casual call and chat!

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