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What is Web3 and why is it important?

Oct 31st, 2021|


In its early days, the internet was primarily a collection of static web content delivered to users. Later, more dynamic content emerged, and mobile applications enabled people to accomplish various tasks at their fingertips. Now, there is an emerging trend to define the internet of the future — a web in which not only everyone consumes content tailored to their preferences but also where users have ownership of their digital identity.
With faster network speeds and the maturation of AI, blockchain, and edge computing, some industry commenters believe we are at a tipping point of this new phase in the web’s evolution: Web3. Let’s look at how Web3 fits into the evolution of the internet, discuss the building blocks of Web3, and finally explore some Web3 applications.

Web 1.0

In what is now recognized as the “Web 1.0” era, the app requirements were simple. Those days, the web was primarily read-only, composed of static hard-coded HTML pages purposefully built to show information without requiring much user interactivity. Content and layout separation didn’t exist, as page styling elements were embedded directly within the page markup itself. For example, if a user request hit a web server, the appropriate HTML file would be fetched by the server and sent back to the user’s browser without using a Database Management System (DBMS). The browser would render the HTML data it has received without any subsequent web calls. It was common also to have proprietary HTML web tags in those days, causing significant browser-related compatibility issues between sites.
With Web 1.0, access to information was democratized. However, ownership was controlled. Content had to be hosted on on-premises servers or through web hosting companies, making it expensive and centrally governed. The net result was few publishers and many consumers on Web 1.0.

Web 2.0

User engagement and information sharing became the central focus of Web 2.0, making it possible for anyone to create content. However, ownership was still controlled by centralized entities. To power the quick shift from read-only to dynamic web pages, a database was needed. When a user accessed a website, the webserver would talk to an application server, make a database request for real-time data, and then convert that data into HTML on the fly before sending it back to the browser. The browser would then load additional CSS and Javascript files before rendering the information to the user.
Web 2.0 was primarily powered by mobile, social, and cloud innovations. Mobile internet drastically increased the daily active user-base, social networks incentivized users to create and consume more content, and cloud computing made it easy for developers to quickly build and deploy their applications without having to maintain expensive hardware on-premises.

What is Web3

Web3 (also stylized as Web 3.0 and Web 3) enhances the previous generations of the web by adding intelligence and decentralizing ownership. Most significantly, pundits say it will bring back the internet to what it was initially meant to be — a place where one does not need permission from a central authority to post and interact with other users.
There is no central controlling server or single point of failure. Instead of a centralized entity acting as a broker or intermediary, transactions and interaction are mediated by smart contracts — cryptographic code that determines the conditions required to be met for the output to be executed. This architecture gives users greater control of their data because it is:
  • Decentralized - Data is no longer be stored in centralized repositories but publicly distributed through blockchain technology — decentralized public ledgers that are collectively owned and managed by the users operating within a particular blockchain protocol.
  • Trustless and verifiable - Web3 apps are built on top of decentralized protocols like blockchains, which fundamentally remove the need for third-party intermediaries through the deployment of cryptographic smart contracts. In order for a transaction to execute, it must meet the conditions set by the smart contract.
  • Self-governing - In Web3, network participants are incentivized to create a stable and secure decentralized network. Anyone is free to join the network and verify it — governance is determined by the community and executed by the smart contract
To sum it up, some investors believe that Web3 will make the internet more intelligent, self-governed, autonomous, and transparent.

Edge computing

In a traditional cloud computing model, computing power and storage are centralized in large data centers that may be thousands of miles away from the source generating data. This poses two critical challenges for the speed and bandwidth that Web3 applications need. Firstly, the latency of such a setup will not match the demands of apps that require real-time responses. Secondly, the bandwidth costs to carry this data will shoot through the roof with the data explosion, which according to IDC’s “Data Age 2025” Whitepaper, will grow at a CAGR of 61% to a staggering 175 zettabytes by 2025.
Edge computing is a distributed computing paradigm that brings computation and data storage closer to data sources. To overcome the challenges in building Web3, computing needs to be brought closer to the edge. Large legacy datacenters can be supplemented by leveraging the compute and processing power of devices today. With edge computing, frequently queried data can be cached at the edge to improve application response times. In addition, physical infrastructure can be extended to new regions closer to the user to reduce bandwidth costs and comply with data localization regulations like GDPR.

Decentralized data networks

In Web3, blockchain reinvents the way data is stored and managed to bring back control to the user and ensure data privacy. Data and state are managed using secure, and decentralized storage enabled over a P2P network. With protocols like smart contracts, network participants can reach consensus without depending on a centralized trusted entity. This provides an open, verifiable, and transparent foundation for building decentralized applications, ensuring the privacy and security of users and data by default.

Artificial intelligence

Web3 will blend artificial intelligence, natural language processing, and machine learning to enable a smarter internet. With an abundance of data and AI’s ability to continuously self-learn and make contextual decisions, more personalized experiences can be created for both consumers and businesses. As a matter of fact, we are already witnessing some of this on the internet with chatbots and virtual assistants (though we are still relatively in the early stages). As the internet evolves, artificial algorithms will power web applications across multiple domains, from entertainment to medicine, logistics to cybersecurity.

Examples of Web3 applications

While Web3 is still in its infancy, decentralized applications (dApps) are becoming increasingly popular, especially for the following two use cases.

Contextual search

Search engines crawl billions of web pages and index them using algorithms that extract relevant information. Traditionally, the relevance score is derived using a keyword-based page ranking model. In contrast, newer search models, such as contextual search, execute a search based on various query context parameters. By leveraging multiple in-page contexts, image and text content, webpage sections, and the user's history of search queries, it can deliver more relevant and precise results.
For example, if a user asks Siri, “Show me restaurants nearby,” a contextual search will use parameters such as the user's location and restaurant timings to predict the user's intent and recommend relevant results.

Decentralized messaging

With data breaches becoming more common, sharing sensitive information using traditional messaging platforms is increasingly difficult. Decentralized messaging apps solve this problem by using Blockchain technology to encrypt messages and ensure that users can communicate freely and securely. In addition, decentralized messaging apps don't use any central server to store your private information. As a result, you and only the intended parties have access to the data.

Web 1.0, 2.0 and Web3 at-a-glance

Here’s a table to summarize the advances made between Web 1.0, 2.0, and Web3 :
---Web 1.0Web 2.0 Web3
Consumption LayerPersonal computersCloud & MobileEdge
InfrastructureOn-premiseInfrastructure as a ServiceBlockchain
MediumWeb pagesWeb applicationsSemantic applications

Use Fauna in Web3 apps for free

In Web3, blockchain technology will play a foundational role. As described in Building Scalable dApps with Ethereum, Polygon, and Fauna, applications built on blockchain foundations will be integrated with a variety of technologies to assist with scalability, speed, and user experience. Serverless, no-ops databases like Fauna can help support the off-chain data needs of decentralized applications as they navigate these fundamental components of Web3 applications.
If you’re looking for a serverless database to support your Web3 applications, Fauna is a flexible, developer-friendly, transactional database delivered as a secure and scalable cloud API. Fauna also offers streaming, where client code can subscribe to a document stored in a Fauna database and any changes to that document are immediately streamed to the client as event notifications. Fauna is built for the real-time demands of edge computing applications and provides the flexibility, speed, and scalability needed for building decentralized applications.

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