The move to Web 3.0 is taking place against a backdrop of the Silicon Valley model crumbling. Falling earnings over the past 12 months followed by a run on the Silicon Valley Bank are indicative of a lack of faith in Web 2.0 – typified by user generated content and participation… read: social media.
If you take stock yourself about how you feel about social media – not do you still use it, but how does it make you feel – you may well have an increased awareness of its failings and be actively trying to use it less. Facebook is certainly at the end of its lifecycle, but the days of social media as we know it are numbered too. Society is questioning what it has really brought us, and whether it’s worth the echo chambers, harassment and doom scrolling.
This doesn’t mean that the internet will get less social, but the platforms as they exist now are not the long game. It’s why the likes of Google and Microsoft haven’t really invested in building social platforms. It was always going to get a bit tired.
The progression to Web 3.0
One of the greatest things that ever happened to the internet was Google. It made the internet serve us. The entire weight of human knowledge searchable at our fingertips? That was a huge step in democratising access to knowledge. Smartphones made that mobile, another huge step forward.
Now the speed of the internet is catching up to what we want to do with it next, affording us an opportunity to return to what Sir Tim Berners Lee intended from Web 3.0. He’s been quite clear that it’s not about blockchain – the term Web3 has been co-opted by that industry but the two are not synonymous – but about data ownership and greater control over how we as individuals experience the internet. It’s not about a specific technology, but a movement in the way we use various technologies.
This concept of tailoring and reskinning the internet has been coming for some time, but ownership over our individual data will extend that – particularly from a health perspective. Again, if we look at big tech, you’ll notice the ones most likely to endure have gone all in on health.
Web 3.0 could see us connect our health data to what we need. Customised Calm meditation rooms, predictive shopping lists based on our tastes and health needs, diary recommendations that help us get proper rest. You might already experience your phone offering to put itself on Do Not Disturb when you have a dinner reservation – well it may just do more than that and offer to pre-book your ride home knowing you’ve got an early meeting. What if it could choose the audio book or podcast that it knew got you to sleep quickest when you got home?
This is a significant difference from Web 2.0, which has done a lot to remove us from the physical world. Instead, the hope is that we’ll have more individual control because of Web 3.0, enabling us to use technology to enhance our lives rather than escape.
Those social elements of it will still exist but I expect that it’ll be smaller, more human, and more intimate. Making friends in the Metaverse all over the world based on shared interests. You could go shopping in a virtual Nike store with a friend from Brazil that’s also into underwater hockey for example.
It’s no wonder there’s questions over the realities of Web 3.0. Its definition has certainly gotten muddled. Society, however, is steering us in the direction we need to go as sentiment shifts away from digital addiction, and towards control and value creation.
James Noble is the chief experience officer APAC at Wongdoody.