Every business with a pulse is talking about Web3. In case you’re not plugged into the internet hype machine, here’s what they’re talking about, why it matters, and what you should be thinking about for how it applies to your business.
Web1 was the launching of websites and browsers to explore them. It was the freedom to make an Angelfire website and show off a picture and blog post about your cat. Maybe somebody saw it, maybe they didn’t, but everyone could suddenly (potentially) find anyone.
Web2 was the advent of social media and aggregation+engagement platforms. It was when businesses launched to help everyone find “not just anyone” with a cat video, but “this specific search-term related” cat videos. Possibly as a listicle. The companies and the algorithms behind them became the (for-profit) curators of our creations.
Web3, to the extent we can agree on what it is, is a promise to creators that they will be returned to the freedoms (and share of the profits!) originally offered in Web1. It undoes some of the usurping of curation (and profits!) the businesses of Web2 made mainstream. The big word is “decentralization,” and to the degree anyone will be able to find anything in the haystack of the internet, it’s got a lot of hype behind it because it re-empowers creators (and maybe helps give them back a share of…profits!)
Web3 matters because it’s about the money. It’s about technology making it easier to create, produce, and share anything, and aligning creators and fans with fewer (but maybe not zero) middlemen.
Every business is in the idea communications game. As a business, the prime directive is to stay in business. That means profits for shareholders (aka owners). As our world evolves, businesses are increasingly being pressured with unlocking ways to also share profits with stakeholders too. Stakeholders can be employees in a factory or fans of an up-and-coming artist who wants everybody to know why their discovery is so cool.
Web3 isn’t a wholly different way of thinking, but it is an acknowledgment the pendulum is swinging away from the middlemen for at least a little while. We want to talk about how our businesses engage with fans and stakeholders so we’re moving with this trend and not against it.
Maybe Web3 won’t change the world, but at the moment, it is changing the conversation around how content, creators, and fans can engage more effectively with fewer middlemen. Ignore it at your own peril.
h/t to Heather N. for sending over this link to Kara Swisher’s “Who’s Behind Web3?” I’ve been meaning to write something about this for a minute, and it was just the nudge I needed. Either she knows I’m slacking, or that I’m a sucker for a fired-up Swisher.