Web3 is mentioned everywhere these days, but what is it all about? 16 years ago I wrote about something called Web 3.0, but the vision shared by people back then was based on the recent emerge of Web 2.0.
The first iteration of the web was in the early 1990s, where static web pages consisted of large chunks of text emulating a newspaper. This was sort of a golden age of the medium. It was also by far the most boring and restricting, so about a decade later we moved on to web 2.0. Thanks to the refined techniques of HTML5 and CSS3, a burst of social applications appeared. These open standards were a bit lackluster (anyone out there who still remember RSS or AJAX?).
The next step was thought to be a data-driven semantic web, but this was perhaps a naive vision by technical experts, as the driving force turned out to be the economy (surprise), turning the web into the chaos engine we all love and hate today.
The road to hell is paved with proprietary techniques, so the web 2.0 wave got kind of hijacked by a few companies in Silicon Valley turning the internet into a gated community, which is sort of the anti-thesis of the open web. The content and platforms were thus owned by private companies, but few people cared about that at the time as social media were quickly embraced by users eager to post selfies and pictures of their breakfast.
In recent years the freedom fighters behind their keyboards found the old moniker “Web 3.0” and remixed the old ideals into another desperate try to utilize crypto currencies. Web3 is believed to put the power back to the users., since the current iteration is assumed to run on block chains. The data is secured by private keys in the block chain ecosystem, making Web3 more resilient and protected from the onslaught of large companies.
NFT (non-fungible tokens) are also a big part of all this. The creators of a NFT will receive a share each time a token is being sold, and combined with the incredible hype this is solid gold for some people right now. If someone can sell a computer-generated image of a monkey for 300 000 USD, I guess no one really knows where this is heading, except that it’s inevitable but messy in the words of Mark Manson.
Maybe the good old web is getting a renaissance comeback? In recent indications it’s not an improbable outcome. But what will this mean for usability and users with disabilities? The WebAIM Million project reports an average of 50.8 errors per page, where “96.8% of home pages had detected WCAG 2 failures”. All in all this is horrible reading. 15 years ago, the web standards generals would be heading for the barricades on hearing such news. Today, most of us are retired and it seems like nobody else cares.
Regardless of anything, I’m very sure that we will see a lot more of Web3 in the near future, whether we like it or not. Stay tuned.