As association leaders, it’s often your responsibility to keep up with trends and understand all the complex ideas that have an impact on your organization. While deconstructing these complex ideas comes with its own challenges, the biggest hurdle is often explaining that information to your members.
In our new series “How To Talk to Your Members,” we’ll be tackling some of these trends and giving you the tools you need to address your organization.
To that end, we’ll start with Web3, the newest and likely most misunderstood evolution of the internet as we know it.
Before there was Web3, there were the earliest iterations of the internet.
As Marc Angelos puts it in his post for The Tilt, “for the first time, being a “creator” became a viable business as some folks built sizeable incomes through podcasting, blogging, and eventually video channels.”
As mentioned above, the web as we know it today is a closed system where data is stored in centralized servers owned by a handful of technology giants like Google, Facebook and Amazon. The “control” aspect of using these giants according to a Forbes article, stems from the fact that “someone pays to install servers and set up software on them that people want to access online, and then either charges us to use it or lets us use it for free, as long as we abide by their rules.”
These complex rules are what have led to worrying issues around privacy and security, and the possibility of our data being weaponized. And we have seen this happen in recent years with the spread of disinformation, as an example.
So, the aim of Web3 is to solve these issues by becoming an updated version of our internet that removes any controlling entity – i.e. a government or corporation – and distributes that power using blockchain.
Before diving deeper into the world of Web3, we first need to understand what makes it work – blockchain technology.
Simply put, the blockchain is a virtual, publicly-transparent ledger that stores all the data of a transaction – i.e. ownership of a piece of art or the cargo manifest for a shipping container – and is then copied across a network of computers also known as data blocks.
The blockchain database isn't stored in any single location – it is hosted and maintained by everyone who has access to it, which means there is no centralized version of the information that can be hacked or corrupted.
What you’re left with is a technology that is difficult to hack but incredibly transparent, forming the backbone of Web3.
In a recent Medium article, Mike Troiano outlined a unique analogy to understand Web3.
“If the Internet is Iron Man, blockchain is Captain America, NFTs are Thor, and decentralized applications are The Hulk… Web3 is The Avengers. It includes all the heroes from other stories, but brings them together to create something different, fundamentally new, and (hopefully) better.”
These “mighty” technologies each play a role in the building and functionality of Web3 essentially forming the pillars it’s built on. They include:
Obviously, there is a lot more to these pillars than just that, and we’ll be exploring them more in detail in future posts.
Just like bitcoin has become the catch-all for cryptocurrencies, the metaverse is quickly becoming misunderstood as Web3.
Where Web3 is all the technology that builds the new internet, the metaverse will likely be the customer-facing sandbox we play in. According to Mathew Ball, a venture capitalist, the metaverse is “about being within the computer rather than accessing the computer. It’s about being always online rather than always having access to an online world.”
Whether this translates into a VR/AR world where we wear headsets and gear to enter is yet to be seen. However, the metaverse is not so far-fetched. Video games and MMORPGs have been doing this for years with titles like Sims and World of Warcraft.
However, when connected with Web3, there are more possibilities. Imagine, using your cryptocurrency to purchase NFTs that you can wear or use to decorate your virtual home, whose ownership is confirmed by the blockchain.
It’s also important to note that large organizations are already buying into the metaverse. According to a Forbes article, Walmart is already developing its own token and plans to “sell goods virtually, ranging the gamut from electronics, home decorations, children’s toys and games, sporting goods, personal care products to physical fitness training services and health and nutrition classes in augmented and virtual reality.”
The biggest issue with explaining and understanding Web3 is that we have no real-world application to compare it to. While Web3 is still very much a work in progress, many of the technologies that could be used to create a decentralized internet are being used to solve modern-day issues.
Web3 and the related technologies can be complex. However, when taken at their most basic level, they can be understood as:
Because many of these terms and technologies are new, they are often used interchangeably or in the wrong context. Some common misconceptions include:
When it comes to Web3, there are a lot of moving parts and technologies that all go into reimagining the internet as we know it today. Many of these changes won't happen for some time, however, many of the foundational technologies are being used today and can be leveraged for your association.
It’s complicated but you’re not alone. As our series continues, we’ll tackle many of the pillars we covered here in-depth, ensuring you have the tools needed to educate your organization.
Jose Triana joined the Sidecar team as the Content Manager in 2021. He is a writer and creative focused on helping purpose-driven organizations learn and find value online. When he isn't working on content, you can catch him going for a run or resting with a good book.
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