Our thoughts on Web3 pathways, a primer series
A Brief History
Most people understand the internet, its evolution, the iterations of the web viz. Web 1.0 and Web 2.0 in principle. We’re familiar with what we can and cannot enable with these ecosystems of innovation. With this evolution, we have experienced technology disrupt traditional businesses, industries, methods of engagement, interaction, commerce and transactions over the last 30 years.
We appreciate how technology has enabled efficiencies at scale for people of the world. We’ve witnessed monetary transaction execution time shrink from 5+ day durations to instantaneous clicks across a myriad of banking and payment apps. We’ve experienced credit lines being available to a select few evolve to mass availability at scale with trust and resilience. We’ve followed FinTech companies enabling millions of MSMEs (Micro Small Medium Enterprises) leveraging these technology ecosystems. The seamless move to paperless transactions, digital signatures, e-commerce, on-demand content, news at our fingertips, OTT, digital music, money and wallets are part of this phase of evolution.
Instant e-mails replaced the postal and telegraph systems, the standard communication methods for over a century. Wireless protocols and connectivity enabled the internet everywhere leading to the evolution of smartphones and tablets, delivering an always-on world continuously serving people. The resilience, reliability and scale of the internet paired with the evolution of Web 2.0, has enabled ‘follow the sun’ business operating models across industries leveraging ‘economies of scale’ to continuously deliver value.
Web technologies have replaced hardware devices. OTT eliminated set-top boxes and digital video recorders. Digital music replaced vinyl, cassettes, compact discs and mini discs. The iPod no longer serves a purpose!
When was the last time we saw a CD/DVD ROM on a computer? It’s been a while! Access, availability, resilience, internet speed clubbed with the evolution of web ecosystems have rendered these hardware devices redundant.
Figure 1: The evolution of the web
The utility, convenience and efficiency of the web and the internet have exponentially increased time spent surfing and transacting across millions of apps; consequently, the birth of a second life, a purely digital one! Web3 goes beyond physical structures to virtual spaces, building upon the ever-evolving breadth and depth of technology.
While Web 2.0 built upon and extended the fundamental principles of Web 1.0; web3 presents an uncertain, cluttered and equivocal perception and interpretation, subjective yet limitless and unbounded by the human imagination. This is fair, given the nascent state of web3, with everyone learning and experimenting with the possibilities. The true potential requires:
1. Innumerable disparate yet connected inventions and enablers (think wireless protocols leading to the evolution of smartphones and tablets)
2. Sovereign acceptance, partnership and economic viability
3. Adoption and acceleration at scale across diverse ecosystem components (software, devices, controllers, haptics and accessories)
4. Trust and acquisition of critical mass
to amalgamate in time, the flip switch to enable web3 as the ‘new’ standard paradigm of operation. This will truly further efficiency, scale and resilience of its predecessors.
As with its predecessors, a key catalyst for web3 to succeed is the participation and partnership of people with businesses, industries, government agencies and institutions to understand and develop global standards for further evolution and innovation. The nascent stage of web3 evolution, provides us the opportunity for a new start, to consciously inculcate the right values more profoundly, purposefully and be viable for all. On the flip side, the scale, maturity and the extreme dependence on technology established over the last 3 decades exponentially increases the potential for damage, foul play and fraud when compared with its predecessors.