With Web3 and metaverse inching closer to becoming the new way of interacting with the internet and each other, we dug deep into what’s next for the internet and world wide web. Let’s compare and contrast Web3 and metaverse; we will also suggest practical requirements for Web3 to function successfully, and curate a list of what we should watch for in the near future as it relates to Web3 and metaverse.
Web3 and metaverse are striking buzzwords at the height of the hype cycle, and it may be easy to assume that they’re the same thing. But let’s look more closely, and see that they are not the same and are quite different theoretically and practically.
First, two brief history lessons.
Web3, known as Web 3.0, coined by Ethereum’s co-founder, Gavin Wood, asserts that we should be entering a new era of both the internet and world wide web where we are not only consumers and creators, but also owners of this digital space. Unlike our current Web2 system, Web3 calls for a decentralized web, where our data, identity, and usage is owned and operated by us users, and not big corporations like social media platforms, online banks, etc.
The notion of a metaverse has actually been around since 1992’s Science Fiction novel, Snow Crash, was published. A metaverse is really a way for us as users to navigate our world through virtual and augmented realities via the web; really, a way to live our entire lives digitally.
It is also important to note that the Metaverse is being pushed by Meta (formerly Facebook, Inc.) as the ultimate platform we will all be using in the very near future. By definition, a metaverse can be created by really anyone, per se, but certainly, with the power, stake, and resources that the Meta corporation brings it is likely this could become the primary version we all might experience.
Are Web3 and metaverse the same thing?
No. Now, if you were to think of these two concepts as fictional and faraway whimsies (think Ready Player 1), sure, they seem like the same thing. But, we now know that both Web3 and metaverse are integrating into our present-day lives.
So how are they different?
The most alluring proposition for Web3 is the fact that it will be decentralized, compared to the corporate (Meta) version of a centralized unitary metaverse. Users alike will be able to completely own (and therefore sell, trade, create, and delete) their part in the world wide web without any large corporations acting as middle managers. Meta’s Metaverse, and arguably any metaverse, will inherently be owned by a company, with a huge stake in its success. Therefore, is there a way for a metaverse to be fully owned by the people for the people, so to speak? Ryan Gill, CEO of a metaverse-focused startup, Crucible, addresses this question by urging us to consider that sure, the Metaverse will allow us to be creators of the space, but ultimately will still be owned and powered by a central entity. Thus, defeating the mission and vision of Web3 entirely.
In a practical sense, some milestones need to happen for Web3 to fully become our new way of interacting with the internet and world wide web. Developers, data scientists, and computer engineers alike must ground themselves in what Web3 asks of us, to use blockchain technology to allow users to control their own data, identity, and destiny. Equally important, browsers and end-user technology must adhere to these blockchain-centric content rights. That’s a big ask, TBH.
The core of any technological advancement is its public reception. We assert that Web3 frontrunners need to consider if this development is even something that the average user wants. In practicality, are users even asking for what Web3 promises, or is this just a request of niche users? Are consumers comfortable with the power and sensitivity of cybersecurity, terms and conditions, and monetization at the hands of middle managing corporations? Will smart glasses, virtual reality headsets, and haptic gloves be integrated into the average person’s life, or will these tech gadgets be exclusively accessible for a select few? Answering these questions truthfully and innovatively will allow for Web3 to prosper at an adequate pace.
A lot has been covered, and there’s so much more for us to research and learn about as it pertains to Web3 and metaverse. A good starting point, for everyday users who continue to dip their toes in the water of the web’s future, is to know exactly what to look out for in the coming months and years. For those of us wanting to be involved with the cutting-edge of technology, we have listed three important items below.
It comes as no surprise that the mainstream of our society is slowly digesting opinions, critiques, and examples of Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs). With regards to Web3 and metaverse, NFTs are thought to be our next form of currency in the virtual landscape. For example, I can create a piece of digital art, claim myself as the sole owner, and if my art is sought after and profitable, I can sell it, or trade it for a piece of real estate in the metaverse. Similar to how Venmo and Cash App became integral parts of our financial lives, NFTs may soon become a normal part of how we interact with currency in a metaverse format. We should watch for the stealthy transition from current currency, to these digital assets because that is when we will know that Web3 and/or metaverse is becoming a total reality.
Remember that the key argument for a Web3 world is to be able to interact with the internet and web in a completely decentralized format. DAOs, Decentralized Autonomous Organizations, truly reflect this philosophy. A DAO promises a truly democratic way of organizing with others and making high-stakes decisions. With DAOs, we won’t need to worry about if our organization’s leader is ethically making the right call, or if our CFO is truly spending our money where we agreed upon, all rules are locked in and encoded using blockchain technology and cannot be changed unless everyone that is part of the organization votes on it. Though not close to being the primary way we organize as collective groups in the present-day, DAOs are already starting to make their way into mainstream practices. The Jenny DAO, a prominent DAO and the first Metaverse DAO on Unic.ly, has made its mark in the mainstream by purchasing famous American DJ, Steve Aoki’s, song as an NFT for their organization. This is something for us to watch out for because artists and creators alike are starting to realize that partnering with DAOs may be the future of selling their content. Once we see more of our favorite celebrities affiliating their products with DAOs, we will know that the Web3 and metaverse experience is becoming more and more fully realized.
As mentioned above, we know that a metaverse is simply a way for us to live out our identities in the digital world; and, we know that as of now, no one person is the owner or creator of any given metaverse. We propose that we keep our eyes peeled for which metaverse(s) becomes our main, socially acceptable, normative platform. We discussed how Meta’s Metaverse is absolutely a frontrunner in this ‘race’, but we should watch for others who’d like to create the metaverse for us users to engage with. Noted above, Ryan Gill proposes an open metaverse, one that is truly user-sovereign and not controlled at all by a centralized entity. Others, like Decentraland, Epic Games, and even Snapchat, are working towards creating their versions of metaverse. We should watch for which established companies, up-and-coming start-ups, and/or individuals make it to the metaverse finish line, as it will impact how we live through and use the metaverse.
Whether you’re new to all-things Web3 and metaverse, an adept and avid techie, or somewhere in between, the way we interact with the digital world has been changing right under our noses, and will continue to change. Web3 and metaverse being our daily standards is not far-fetched anymore, and we must continue to learn how to integrate this once futuristic, fictional way of life into our present-day lives very soon.
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