Google “web3” and you’ll find the internet clamoring to figure out – or fight about – exactly what web3 is. The term, short for Web 3.0, describes the internet’s third phase of evolution after Web 1.0 (the advent of web browsers like Netscape in the 1990s) and Web 2.0 (the rise of “participatory” megasites like Facebook and Google during the early 2000s).
In popular media, web3 has become a bit of a “buzzword” or “umbrella term.” But, as Chainlink co-founder Sergey Nazarov argued on last week’s Base Layer with David Nage, this isn’t because web3 doesn’t have the potential to change the world. From Nazarov’s experience working on web3’s leading oracle network, people don’t simply misunderstand the concept of web3 – they’re looking at it the wrong way.
“The lens through which many people evaluate all web systems is they seek to look at the current use cases and they seek to look at the interfaces,” Nazarov said.
“The problem with that is that it doesn’t really get to the core of what web3 does differently and that is the provision of cryptographic guarantees.”
While NFTs are transforming the way creators retain ownership of their work – a vital component of the decentralized, autonomous web of the future – Nazarov said a better way for people to approach web3 is to consider the ways web2’s centralized platforms and exchanges haven’t lived up to their expectations.
“Imagine social media couldn’t be controlled. Imagine trading venues couldn’t be stopped. Imagine if the solvency of your bank was known to you on a second-by-second basis,” he said.
Nazarov described a mammoth set of backend problems that are abstracted away from the users of web2’s centralized platforms. These issues, he explained, don’t become apparent until crises like the 2008 financial meltdown or last year’s Robinhood trading freeze.
He predicted that people will begin to understand the importance of cryptographic truth as more centralized platforms fail to keep the promises they make to their users. Ultimately, he argued, web2 platforms can’t deliver on their promises, because their underlying infrastructure can’t create cryptographically guaranteed relationships.
Web3, on the other hand, offers an alternative system of contracts that cryptographically guarantee brand promises are met. “This is the alien concept that isn’t fully grasped,” Nazarov said.
While this idea might be difficult for consumers to wrap their heads around, Nazarov said that the people working on solving the “esoteric backend problems” of web2 embrace the transformational capabilities of web3.
“I’ve yet to meet a person that says, ‘You know, I would prefer the less reliable, more fraud-prone web2 version of the agreement instead of the highly reliable, cryptographically guaranteed, fault-proof, tamper-proof, adversary-proof web3 version.’”
Listen to Sergey Nazarov’s full conversation with David Nage on the Base Layer podcast.