by Heather Parady
If you are like me when you heard whispers of this thing called “Web3” you were probably kinda confused.
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I could understand maybe a “Web 2” because obviously there was a “Web 1” (I mean, isn’t that what we have been engaging with?). It was crazy to learn that we were already on the THIRD VERSION of the internet. Since when!?
Before we begin this conversation, I want to reassure you: if you do not consider yourself to be “tech-y,” or maybe you feel like a total newbie when people start talking about NFTs, blockchain, and the Metaverse, trust me when I say, “Me too.”
I began learning about Web3 only a year ago, and have never considered myself someone who was well versed in anything technical. To be honest, it never interested me either.
However, after studying the changes that are not only upon us (but are already here), I am excited to share with you a few things that I have learned, in everyday terms. Web3 is going to change everything about how we do business, how we engage with brands, and how we interact with each other. So listen in…
What was Web1? What is Web2?
Do you remember the first time you “got online?” I was 14 or 15. We had “dial-up internet” and it took several minutes, and a lot of noise, before that little AOL yellow guy announced that I was “connected.”
Does anyone else remember this?
Looking back on my early experiences, I think that by the time I entered the scene we were at the beginning stages of “Web2.” Prior to that, the internet was a “read-only” platform designed for consumers to simply look up and receive information without having the ability to engage with it.
Simply put: Web1 was “read-only.” We got online and consumed content that someone else put there.
By the time I was sitting in my home as a young teenager waiting on that yellow man to connect me to the internet, I was able to TALK to other people online and make my own content. Hello, MySpace!
Simply put: Web2 was “read, create, and socialize.” I could get online look up content, comment on it, talk to other users who were consuming it, and even make my own!
So to recap: Web1 was about consuming content. Web2 was about engaging with it and making it. Are you hanging with me? Great.
So what is Web 3 all about?
Web3 is About Ownership
Own content. Own data. Own digital assets.
There are many elements to Web3, but at its core, its intent is to “decentralize the web.”
Meaning, to take out third parties and re-distribute access and ownership to users.
Let me give you an example.
One of the frustrations in recent years with users of social media is that the corporations that they are engaging with “own” the user’s data and in many cases, can distribute and sell that data without the user’s permission. For Facebook specifically, our data contributed to their #1 revenue stream – all without us even being aware of it.
These corporations are essentially giving you access to their platform in EXCHANGE for your data. So it’s “free” to have an account…but there is a price.
With Web3, data is stored on “the Blockchain” and you, as the owner of that data, have a say in who engages with it, if at all.
What is the blockchain? Well, let me turn to some pros to explain that one.
“Blockchain is a shared, immutable ledger that facilitates the process of recording transactions and tracking assets in a business network.” – IMB
For this tech newbie, the way I understand it is that it is simply a ledger that records info, but the data is not owned by a corporation… it’s owned by the people.
Wait! I thought Web3 was about cartoon pictures of monkeys?
We will talk more about NFTs, Crypto, etc., in relation to Web3, but for the sake of this overview, know that digital assets (NFTs), digital currency (cryptocurrency), the metaverse and the like are simply a part of the broader conversation regarding Web3.
Again, Web3 is about ownership. It uses blockchain technology (a ledger that stores info) to decentralize data (take out the middlemen) in order to distribute power.
So…simple concept, complex tech, and even more complex implications. But more on that later…
When is Web3 Coming?
You may be shocked to learn that IT IS HERE, my friends. We are living in an “in-between” space between Web2 and Web 3. We are definitely WAY more on the side of “Web2,” because most people don’t have digital wallets, own cryptocurrency, and (rightfully so) are still wary of NFTs.
However “Web3” is technically here.
Progressive Web2 brands are asking themselves “how do I merge” my existing model into a “Web3” model? Essentially “merging” into Web3 is when someone looks at their structure, processes, etc and asks themselves how they can decentralize the process using the blockchain.
There are many philosophical questions that come into play when thinking about decentralization, and as you can imagine, it will take years for businesses, governments, etc. to fully adopt this model, and it’s possible we will always be someone on a continuum in “Web3.” But, it technically is here.
The concept of decentralization has been around for quite some time. But for now, what do YOU need to know as a leader? How can you prepare your business or initiatives for a “Web3” world?
The Implications of Web3 (and What You Can Do)
One of the most common phrases in the Web3 space is “we are early”, which is true. So before you run off to create NFTs, change everything about your current approach to business or content creation, understand these few things:
As with anything I say, I want to give the standard warning that this is not financial advice.
- Become a Student
It is INCREDIBLY important that you DYOR (That’s what the Web3 people say when they mean, “Do your own research”).
The truth is, Web3 is still being defined, at least in its practical everyday uses of it. We are still learning how it will affect our lives, and I believe the “final version” of it is still years away.
However, there are things that you can do now to not only prepare yourself from a consumer standpoint (what to expect from your favorite brands, the way you receive certifications, or buy your ticket to a Coldplay concert), but also there are things you can start doing now as a leader, creator, and business owner.
Education should always be front and center. Start listening to podcasts, reading articles – or if you are a visual learner like me, there are many fascinating YouTube channels (and even TikToks) that are great places to start learning about Web3).
Personally, I stay away from information about day-trading and how to flip NFTs, and stick to learning about the bigger implications of Web3.
Learning about wallets, the blockchain, the attempt to decentralize, and tokenization is a great place to start (you might stay there while there is a lot to learn). This will give you a good grasp on how the TECH is leading the initiative behind what was shared in the section defining Web3.
Soon we will all have digital wallets. It will look different than what it looks like now (I really hope it is simpler!), but having your assets in (and stored in a digital form) will be the norm. Ask yourself, how will this change my business model?
2) Engage with the Tech
Again, not financial advice but before creating something, I am of the mindset you need to be a participant first. Learn what it is like to set up a wallet, buy a digital asset, and learn about the various blockchains.
Learn about the environmental implications and join conversations about what people are doing to solve this problem. Engage with Web3, most are newbies, and it is a VERY collaborative space.
3) Start Learning the SKILLSET of Community Building
If you are a leader I want to encourage you to start studying community building. Even if you have NO interest in anything else I mentioned above, one thing you can do today that will have a huge impact on your efforts as a leader, is to pay attention to the community.
In Web3, the implications of community come into play when you think about NFTs (distributed ownership) and DAOs (Decentralized Autonomous Organizations). However, the biggest lesson to learn here is that where we once focused on building “audiences” in Web2 (and that worked), people now are more interested in COMMUNITIES.
Again, even if you are not interested in everything Web3 brings to the table, know that community building is front and center, and that’s something we can work on now.
Keep Your Head Above the Water
This was a lot. I hope it demystified what Web3 is and gave you some context to approach the conversations you are seeing online about NFTs, the metaverse, etc.
We are ALL students here. Anyone who tells you that they are an expert here, be wary of. There are a lot of uncharted territories which can feel overwhelming, but it can also be really exciting.
There is opportunity in the unknown, and there is room for YOU to step in and fill the voids that you see missing. Instead of asking yourself, “Am I ready for Web3?” Ask yourself, “Is Web3 ready for ME!?”