Web 3.0: A Brief Introduction


As the rapid developments of the technological world unfold under our noses, one constantly comes across a  barrage of new terminology and concepts. Web 3 is just one of those glamorous buzzwords that are used to describe an interesting but equally controversial phenomenon.  

Firstly we should briefly explore the meaning of the internet and how the term ‘web’ comes into play. The internet can be most simply described as a ‘network of networks’.1 In other words, it refers to a group of computers connected to each other, which are also members of other, increasingly larger groups of computers, which eventually map the entire globe. Imagine the device you’re using now. It’s connected to the internet (most likely wirelessly), and if you’re at home, then you’ll have a few other computers connected to the same network.

Essentially your house makes one small network. This is called a Local Area Network (LAN), which is connected via a cable to a cabinet (somewhere in the street or building you live in) that groups all of the other houses in your area. This is called a Wide Area Network (WAN). It is then connected to a larger facility where many streets, cities, regions, and then entire countries are connected to each other.2 The ‘World Wide Web’ (www) refers to a certain technology that was developed in Britain by Sir Tim Berners-Lee in 1989. The ‘web’ is a  system that allows users of the internet to access different resources.3 This very article can be read by your web browser because of the web.  

Secondly, we should recognise that Web 3 is simply a more up-to-date version of the original ‘World Wide Web’.4  There are three widely accepted iterations. Web 1 was mainly the internet that our parents could access in the late 1990s and early 2000s. It had ‘static’ web pages with mostly text and images since video streaming was virtually non-existent. At the time, the web wasn’t governed by large technology companies since it was primarily based on ‘open protocols’. We can imagine those as laws that are common to all users, like the United Kingdom’s Highway Code. 

The exponential growth of Facebook after its foundation in 2004 contributed to the development of Web 2.5  It marked a fundamental shift from an internet that was largely run by its users to one that is monetized by large cooperations and dominated by active participation, uploading and contributing information rather than passively consuming it.6 Nowadays, we are witnessing a slow shift to a new kind of internet: Web 3. It aims to achieve higher levels of privacy because, in theory, it should be decentralised, where data is stored on billions of different devices rather than servers controlled by large cooperations. Some also envision democratic governance by users. This would require the user’s approval before making major changes to the web’s  infrastructure.7 Finally, Web 3 would attempt to reverse the current monetization structure and allow the many, not the few, to monetize their online activities. In other words, supporters of Web 3 view it as a merger between the positive aspects of version one, and two; no central control and higher levels of user engagement by incentivising contributions.8

Despite large support from leaders in the technology industry, especially in the crypto sector, some are sceptical that this version of the internet will become a reality in the coming years. For instance, Jack Dorsey,  one of the founders of Twitter, argued that Web 3 will simply be “a centralized entity with a different label”, 9 not too different from today’s Internet.  


1 Keefer and Baiget, ‘How It All Began’, 90. 

2 ‘Types of Network’. 

3 ‘The Original Proposal of the WWW, HTMLized’. 

4 Roose, ‘What Is Web3?’ 

5 Roose, ‘What Is Web3?’ 

6 Roose, ‘What Is Web3?’ 

7 Roose, ‘What Is Web3?’ 

8 Roose, ‘What Is Web3?’ 

9 Roose, ‘What Is Web3?’