What is Web3 and how is it different from Web2?

Web 3.0, or simply Web3, represents the next generation of the internet, which is grounded on public blockchains. Unlike conventional internet services mediated by giant corporations such as Google, Facebook, or Apple, Web3 is decentralized, allowing individuals to own and govern parts of the internet.

Blockchain technology is the primary driving force behind Web3. This technology, which is a type of decentralized digital ledger, allows transactions to be recorded and verified across a network of computers rather than by a single entity. This decentralization is what enables Web3 to operate without the need for intermediaries or central authorities, a significant departure from the Web2 model.

In Web3, individuals can own and control sections of the internet, and transactions between parties can occur directly, without the need for a middleman. This not only enhances user privacy but also reduces the risk of censorship by governments or corporations.

Web3 eliminates the need for "permission" from central authorities to access services and does not require "trust" in an intermediary for online transactions to occur. As a result, user privacy is better protected as data collection is significantly reduced.

Web3 is closely linked with cryptocurrencies, providing monetary incentives in the form of tokens to those who contribute to the creation, governance, and improvement of Web3 projects. This introduces a new dynamic into the web ecosystem, where individuals can earn a living by participating in these protocols.

A key component of Web3 is also frequently decentralized finance, which allows for financial transactions to occur on the blockchain without the need for banks or government intervention. 

Despite the decentralization, however, it's important to note that significant investments into Web3 by major corporations and venture capital firms may still lead to some form of centralized power.

How is Web3 different from Web2?

Web3 differs significantly from its predecessor, Web2, in numerous ways. Web2, or the Social Web, is interactive and user-driven, with platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and X being prime examples. However, in Web2, users do not have control over their data, which is often stored without explicit consent. Centralized companies own and govern this data, leading to potential issues such as data breaches. Moreover, governments can easily intervene, control, or shut down applications using centralized servers.

Web3, on the other hand, is a decentralized version of the internet. It operates on public blockchains and does not require centralized intermediaries for transactions. This decentralization means that users have more control over their data, enhancing privacy and reducing the chances of data breaches.

Furthermore, Web3 applications, known as decentralized apps, are built on blockchains or decentralized networks, offering a more secure and private online experience. Web3 also introduces the concept of decentralized autonomous organizations, which use tokens to distribute ownership and decision-making authority more evenly.

While Web2 and Web3 share some similarities, the shift towards decentralization, user control, and cryptocurrency integration sets Web3 apart as the future of the internet.


Keep up with the latest news, trends, charts and views on crypto and DeFi with a new biweekly newsletter from The Block's Frank Chaparro

By signing-up you agree to our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy
By signing-up you agree to our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy

Web3 and Smart Contracts

Web3 can also bring with it an innovative concept known as smart contracts — self-executing contracts with the terms of the agreement directly written into lines of code. They are stored and replicated on the system, supervised by the network of computers that run the blockchain, which makes them decentralized and immune to manipulation. This feature of Web3 offers a more secure, autonomous, and efficient way of conducting transactions.

Unlike traditional contracts, smart contracts eliminate the need for a third-party intermediary, such as a lawyer or a notary. This makes transactions transparent, traceable, and irreversible, thereby reducing the potential for disputes and fraud. Smart contracts are not only used to define the rules and penalties related to an agreement in the same way that a traditional contract does, but they can also automatically enforce those obligations. For instance, in the realm of DeFi, smart contracts are used to create protocols that algorithmically perform financial functions such as lending or borrowing, without the need for a financial intermediary like a bank.

Moreover, smart contracts play a significant role in the functioning of DAOs.

Challenges to Web3 adoption

Web3 brings with it many promising features, but it also faces significant challenges to its widespread adoption. One of the primary issues is the steep learning curve associated with understanding and utilizing Web3 technologies. The incorporation of blockchain, cryptocurrencies, and dapps requires users to gain a new set of skills and knowledge, which can be a daunting task for many.

This complexity can deter users from adopting Web3, slowing down its mainstream acceptance.

Another challenge is the regulatory uncertainty surrounding Web3, particularly with regards to cryptocurrencies. Governments and regulatory bodies around the world are still grappling with how to manage and regulate digital currencies, leading to a lack of clear guidelines and policies. This uncertainty can create a risky environment for users and discourage investment in Web3 technologies.

Furthermore, while Web3 promises greater privacy and control over personal data, it also raises new security concerns. The decentralized nature of Web3 means that security is the responsibility of the individual user, which can be a double-edged sword. While it eliminates central points of failure, it also means that if a user loses access to their private keys, they could lose access to their assets or data forever, with no means of recovery.

Finally, the scalability of Web3 technologies is a significant hurdle. Current blockchain networks face limitations in terms of transaction speed and capacity, which could become a bottleneck as the number of Web3 users grows.

Overcoming these challenges will require ongoing technological innovation and the development of robust, user-friendly tools and platforms that make Web3 accessible and appealing to a broad audience.

Disclaimer: This article was produced with the assistance of OpenAI’s ChatGPT 3.5/4 and reviewed and edited by our editorial team.

© 2023 The Block. All Rights Reserved. This article is provided for informational purposes only. It is not offered or intended to be used as legal, tax, investment, financial, or other advice.

About Author

Nathan Crooks is the U.S managing editor at The Block, based in Miami. He was previously at Bloomberg News for 12 years, where he helmed coverage of South Florida after roles as a breaking news editor and bureau chief in Caracas, Venezuela. He's interviewed presidents, government ministers and CEOs, and, besides crypto, has covered major news events on the ground from earthquakes to hurricanes to the Chilean mine rescue in 2018. Nathan, a native of Clarion, Pennsylvania, holds a bachelor's degree from the University of Toronto, where he completed a specialist in political science, and an MBA from American University in Washington, D.C.