The semantic web is being heralded by many future-thinking individuals and businesses as the future of the Internet and as the next big step in humanity’s digitization of the world and everything in it. Now, while Web 3.0 does appear to be the next big step in our digital evolution, it’s still largely abstract and remains very, very early. Many of the major advances that have already changed lives in the current digital era, such as remote working options and the KoL/entrepreneur lifestyle, were available before Web 3.0 became a thing.
So far, technology under the umbrella of ‘Web 3.0’ has led to some serious changes in the financial world as self-custodianship allows individuals to be their own bank with all of the associated pros and cons. It has also allowed for hyper-efficient markets underpinned by DeFi protocols with small teams of innovators that massively democratize and increase access to capital markets for anyone around the world to be a part of.
Identity, though, is hands-down the area that will see the biggest change as we transition to and develop in Web 3.0. Let’s pick this apart in more detail.
Creators in Web 3.0
Over the past two decades of Web 2.0, there has emerged growing friction between two of the main drivers; content creators and the platforms that distribute and monetize their content. Platforms originally emerged as invaluable tools to support creators looking to find and entertain audiences, but this relationship has since shifted to one of growing dissatisfaction as platforms retain ultimate control over the actual product, the content, and the right to arbitrarily censor, reward, or punish creators. On top of this, royalties for creators are notoriously low, opaque, and not standardized across industries.
Web 3.0 will bring about disintermediation between creator and consumer, where platforms are limited in their capacity to control content and the revenues they can capture. This greatly incentivizes the creation of high-quality content where a creators’ value is platform-agnostic and tied to their identity. Creators in Web 3.0 will be responsible for managing their own communities and therefore work closer with their supporters. Creators will also earn a much larger portion of royalties and not be confined to traditional means of monetization, such as driving higher volumes of views/listens to generate ad revenue. A creator’s identity will be a combination of their personality and views, their content, how they manage and profit from their community, and the details of their collaborations with other creators.
Ideas in Web 3.0
Coming within the uncensorable and pseudonymous framework of Web 3.0, is a distancing of content and platform. Ideas and movements on the semantic web will be able to take form as more than just the “slacktivism” of changing a display picture or signing an online petition, and actually involve real change driven by genuine ownership that rewards contributors. DAO models mean that companies become public infrastructure wherein individuals have designated roles and responsibilities, and all DAO members are stakeholders in the actions of the organization. Imagine a Facebook meeting before congress where all Facebook users are also shareholders.
This also means that platforms are unable to arbitrarily restrict access and censor individuals. Communities built upon common interests or ideas can grow to become more than just websites or group chats, but functioning organizations with a financial treasury that employs individuals and transparently allocates resources based on the majority consensus of that organization as decided by its comprising members. This revolution in organization management will underpin a fundamental shift in how people view the role of communities and movements moving forward online.
Individuals in Web 3.0
Perhaps the biggest change Web 3.0 will instigate is in how people portray their identity online, and how they are perceived by others. Using pseudonyms can help protect offline identities and the risk of public doxxing, whilst also providing significant benefits to fully anonymous systems in which individuals can act without consequence. The transparency allowed by blockchain technology will mean people can use pseudonyms do act online, but that these actions will all be traceable and tied to the pseudonym. Balancing this trade-off between privacy and personal responsibility will be integral to how people act online in the era of Web 3.0.
Also important is how individuals will be able to define their online identities and beliefs through DAO participation and membership. Similar to the construction of a digital CV, past DAO contributions and rewards will be made transparent and available, providing potential future partners with a trustable account of someone’s past, as well as giving individuals the opportunity to proves their skills without having to rely on someone’s trust. This trustless-trust based on the hard-coded principles of transparency will act to greater encourage positive value creation and effective work.