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Humans are social creatures. Since the early days of the dial-up Internet, people have embraced new and innovative ways to connect and communicate. From the basic one-dimensional websites of Web 1.0 to the sleek and user-friendly social networks of Web 2.0, each new evolution has brought with it new ways for people to express themselves and interact with each other.
While the platforms and tools we use have changed over time, something has remained more or less constant throughout this evolutionary process. I’m talking about the ownership structure and power dynamics between those who control networks and those who use them.
Here is some context
The Web 1.0 era was mostly one-way media consumption – users browsed the web to consume information and then left because there was no easy way to share, react or engage ( think basic news websites).
Web 2.0 and the emergence of social networks like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube completely changed this dynamic, ushering in an era of two-way communication, with the added possibility of user-generated content, which could be easily distributed.
It is undeniable that these social networks have empowered businesses and individuals around the world, providing multinationals and micro-enterprises with the means to influence and artists, with the ability to connect, market and communicate directly with their audience. And while these platforms have always been free, there have undoubtedly been other hidden costs. As the saying goes, if you’re not paying to use a product, you’re probably the product being sold.
It all comes down to data privacy, and the key problem with the current state of affairs is that social media networks, all of which are owned by a handful of for-profit companies, have collected, aggregated and mined this data from user in exchange for advertising revenue – and they did a lot of that. These networks and their corporate overlords have experienced massive growth, both in terms of network usage, share price appreciation, and profit. However, the users of these platforms, who created this value, did not benefit from it.
Related: 4 Reasons Social Media Has Become So Toxic and What to Look For Next
This is where Web 3.0 comes in.
While centralized social networks dominated in Web 2.0, Web 3.0 networks will be entirely decentralized and community-owned. This means that the users of the networks will be co-owners and will therefore share in any value creation, while being able to participate in their governance and operation. It’s a radical departure from the structures of Web 1.0 and Web 2.0, where power is transferred from companies to the hands of users.
In practice, this means that a content creator on a decentralized Facebook or YouTube equivalent can retain greater control of their digital identity while being rewarded for the activity and value they create on the network.
Here’s how it might work
These new decentralized networks will be built on a technology called blockchain, which is the same technology that underpins cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum. The technology itself is effectively a transparent digital ledger, capable of recording transactions that cannot be manipulated or altered.
In Web 3.0, users interact with other users on a blockchain-based peer-to-peer social network. This is done through a web 3.0 wallet, which is essentially a digital user profile used for all decentralized networks, collectively dubbed “the metaverse”. Any activity undertaken by a user in the metaverse would be recorded on the blockchain and attributable to their web 3.0 wallet.
This activity, whether creating content or engaging with other users’ content, would be rewarded accordingly with the currency or “token” of the social network. These tokens could be exchanged for NFTs, other cryptocurrencies or simply acquired, which would give the user an increased position in the community and other advantages like the right to vote on the governance and management of the network. .
Related: Web 3.0 is coming, and here’s what it really means for you
It’s still early days, but these are just a few of the fascinating and mind-boggling possibilities created by the emergence of Web 3.0 – and big tech companies are starting to take notice. It wasn’t until late last year that Twitter announced it was looking at ways to introduce Web 3.0 features to its platform, and we’ve all heard of Facebook’s shocking decision to renaming his name to Meta, an acknowledgment of his interest in moving to the Metaverse.
The Web 3.0 revolution is completely changing the fabric of the Internet and will upend the way we interact, transact and socialize online. As consumer behaviors inevitably change, so does the need for marketing and advertising strategies that can effectively target anonymous users on the decentralized internet.