Beginner’s guide to Web3: crypto heads dream up a new kind of internet
If you’re still trying to get your head around the web, let alone crypto, NFTs and dapps, there’s a hard road ahead
If you follow the world of cryptocurrency even casually, you know it produces a constant supply of jargon. There’s NFT, dapp, DeFi and tokenomics, to name a few. Brace yourself for a new one: Web3. The idea is that crypto isn’t just for sending money or speculating with, but could be used to build a whole new web. If the believers are right, this is one bit of cryptospeak worth getting familiar with, even if you never touch bitcoin.
Of course, the software behind the internet is changing all the time. What makes Web3 different — and more than a little weird — is that it would build financial assets, in the form of tokens, into the inner workings of almost anything you do online. And by doing so, its boosters say it could supplant corporations with decentralised, internet-based organisations governed by software protocols and the votes of token holders. “It’s the first real consumer penetration” for crypto, says Jeff Dorman, chief investment officer of crypto fund Arca. “Over time, every company became an internet company. I think it will happen here in digital assets.”
Sceptics — and there are many — say this stuff is a long way from proving its use beyond niche applications, many of them tools aimed at crypto traders. It may also be an attempt to get around regulation at a time when policymakers are gearing up to set clearer rules for crypto. In sum, Web3 is a heady mix of creative new projects, techno-utopianism and financial engineering. Here’s a beginner’s guide to what you need to know...