The internet as we know it today, gives us a false sense of ownership. We would like to believe that we own the photos we shoot, the videos we film, and the in-game assets that we create and post online. But this couldn’t be further from the truth.
Whatever we create online is owned by the platforms on which we share it. So, that selfie you posted on Instagram is owned by Meta and not you.
This is Web 2.0.
Companies develop products and services in a centralised manner and own all content that is created on those platforms. To be sure, this is an evolution from Web 1.0 where users were merely passive consumers of content that was created by a few for many.
While Web 2.0 has ushered in the ‘creator revolution’ where creation of content is no longer restricted to the hands of the few, it hasn’t empowered them to fully benefit from their work.
This is where Web 3.0 stands out.
What is Web 3.0?
Web 3.0 is the next generation of the internet. It doesn’t just democratise content creation, it also ensures that only the creators get to own what has been created.
So, if you were to, mint a photo, video, illustration, or an in-game asset on Web 3.0, you would own it as a Non-Fungible Token or NFT and make money by trading it without giving large cuts to the platforms that host these assets.
This is because Web 3.0 is based on the philosophy that the Internet should be decentralised. Which is to say there shouldn’t be a single custodian of data or a single authority that can control the flow of information.
Essentially, the Internet has gone from being information-based to platform-based and is now token-based where smart contracts and native tokens enable governance and participation.
What is Metaverse?
Simply put, Metaverse is an extension of the Internet into the 3D space. You are no longer looking at the screen and playing a game or seeing a webpage, you are immersed into it, using a pair of AR/VR glasses, and interacting with it as you would with something similar in the real world.
Metaverse is a virtual parallel Internet-based world where users can interact with the assets there and with each other in a three-dimensional space. It is hyper immersive and super interactive, and the hope is that the real world and the Metaverse will at some point soon seamlessly blend into each other.
How do Web 3.0 and Metaverse come together?
Several people use Metaverse and Web 3.0 interchangeably; they aren’t the same thing. Metaverse is that sweet spot where Blockchain, Web 3.0, AR/VR, Phygital and Cryptocurrency come together.
The potential applications of the Metaverse are mind boggling and they range from e-commerce, education, and social media to more traditional industries such as manufacturing as well.
Fashion has been on the cutting edge of Web 3.0 x Metaverse, with design houses dropping limited edition NFTs and creating Metaverses where potential customers could interact with them. Gucci, for instance, created Gucci Garden in the Roblox gaming metaverse and welcomed more than 19 million visitors to it, according to a recent McKinsey report.
Identity is key in Web 3.0 and Metaverse
The concept of identity has existed for as long as civilisation itself. Over centuries it has evolved from physical to digital but at its core, both these types of identities are made up of different data attributes (think Aadhar number, date of birth, username, and password).
A digital identity allows us to access resources on the Internet, but it also grants organisations the power to gatekeep. For example, to read a particular research paper or news article, publications will insist that you create an account on their platform and only when they authenticate your identity, they will grant you an appropriate level of access. As such, this is a form of centralised identity.
As with everything else on Web 3.0, identity is also decentralised. A decentralised identity empowers users to control what data they can share with platforms and organisations and revoke it at their own discretion. But decentralised are blockchain-based and can be anonymous. As anonymous private key-based identities get popular, it is becoming crucial to put regulations in place to identify who’s who.
Regulations in Web 3.0 and Metaverse
Outside of a few digital-forward countries, government regulation in Web 3.0 and Metaverse is still in its infancy.
However, we are finding that you don’t always need sweeping regulations for all Web 3.0 use cases. Some of these can be realised with existing regulations, some with bare minimum regulations, whereas only a few will require major regulatory changes.
But it is clear that just as the Internet did, regulations too need to evolve to keep up. As the internet grew from Web 1.0 to Web 3.0, regulations too must go from ‘Digital also’ to ‘Digital first’, and ultimately to ‘Digital only’.
The article has been written by Gopikrishnan Konnanath, Senior Vice President, Global Head – Engineering Services and Blockchain, Infosys