Posted on July 31, 2022
Article available in podcast here.
A new word is now on all pitches from startups wanting investor money. the web3 succeeds the previous buzz words such as BigData, Artificial Intelligence or Cloud Native.
Of course, once put on the presentation of a startup, this word no longer means anything. Yet technically, it refers to a precise reality. We are going to see what web3 is by also going through web1 and web2.
Web1, the server
The web1 appeared with the appearance of the internet and the first servers hardware. A server is a computer that will remain connected to the Internet all its life without almost ever shutting down. It has no screen or keyboard, but a huge network card and lots of RAM.
But there is also the server softwarethe software brick that runs on the server hardware to respond to queries from the Internet.
The web1 comes from the servers softwares. software capable of to serve through the internet from websites stored on the hard drive of the server hardware.
So web1 is just the internet with websites made up of files, they are static, that is to say frozen. If you wish to modify any content of the site, you must modify the files present on the server and redeploy the website.
Web2, the database
The web2 appeared with the database. The website finds itself separated between the files that form the structure of a web page, a sort of empty shell. The content is moved into the database.
We can therefore modify the content of the website without changing the server files. You can even modify the content of the website, directly from the website thanks to the database!
So with web2, we see sites that can be modified by users. They became dynamic. Forums, press sites, blogs, Wikipedia, Facebook, YouTube are all grouped together in web2.
Even if between Wikipedia, an online documentation site and Google drive, a real online office suite, there is a technological gulf, both are nevertheless web2. Because the Wikipedia server only uses content from the Wikipedia database, and the same for Google.
This is a limitation of web2 databases, they are dumb and malleable. Whoever has access to the base can do anything. The database of a website is therefore accessible only to the server which will check the integrity of the data and the user permissions.
The web2 sites therefore operate in silos, each server hosting its site and accessing its database. No website can be grafted onto the database of another site, at the risk of corrupting the data.
Web3, the blockchain
The web3 appeared with the blockchain which is a secure and intelligent database designed to store assets (certificates, shares, currencies, other tokens). It is secure, because no one can rewrite it, we only add transactions, it is immutable. It’s smart because it manages asset integrity and user permissions on its own.
Unlike web2 databases, the blockchain can therefore be used by many websites, because no site can corrupt it. A blockchain therefore acts as a shared database for the entire internet. Sites can list the assets owned by the user and add a transaction validated by the user.
Thus the data (assets) can circulate between different websites across the blockchain.
If you listen to an album on repeat, Spotify may issue a certificate designating you as a fan. This certificate can allow you to access the box office before everyone else to buy a concert ticket for your group.
If you buy a guitar, the manufacturer can register your purchase on the blockchain. Private Youtube channels thus become accessible to you to watch guitar lessons.
In a video game, the publisher can save your progress on blockchain. Completing the game can give you access to Discords rooms to chat with players.
All these use cases are possible in web3 thanks to the blockchainwhich is impossible with the siled internet of web2.
The web3 is a specific term that designates a website that will use the blockchain to manage user assets. Thanks to the blockchainweb3 enables data interoperability across the internet.