The “Metaverse” and “Web3” have become popular keywords since the blockchain boom of 2021.
After Facebook’s parent company changed its name to Meta in late 2021, the concept behind the two words continues to be debated, attracting attention even from those outside of the blockchain industry. However, many continue to be confused by just what each word means, with some thinking that the two words are interchangeable.
Even though the metaverse and Web3 have deep links with each other, the concepts behind each are quite different. This article will explore the nature of their relationship, and what actions industry players are taking to embrace the two.
What is Web3?
No discussion about Web3 should start without defining what Web1 and Web2 are.
When British computer scientist Tim Berners-Lee innovated the World Wide Web (WWW) in 1989, it was widely believed that the Internet entered the Web1 phase – a period where Internet users were able to browse vast amounts of content via portal websites. This period was marked by having users absorb whatever content was available, with limited ability to generate any content of their own. Web1 is often viewed as the read-only period for the Internet.
The year 2005 saw the emergence of large technology firms such as Facebook – companies with an active focus on the burgeoning social media space. This year marked the beginning of the Web2 phase, an era where users were able to self-generate content versus the read-only period which defined Web1. Many influencers emerged during Web2, which has since become known as the read-and-write period.
However, this read-and-write nature does not necessarily work in the best interests of netizens, as the rules of content ownership are still very much set by platforms such as Facebook and Twitter. While such platforms gain vast profits by monetizing user information and user-produced content, most users stand to gain little despite their contributions. The current era we are operating in remains very much Web2 in nature.
The rapid development of blockchain technology in recent years has given birth to the concept of Web3, which is an era underscored by decentralization, openness and greater user utility, particularly around the areas of content ownership by users themselves.
While a clear definition for Web3 has yet to be established as the concept is still in its infancy, the brisk growth of technologies such as DeFi, NFT, GameFi and DAO underscore a promising future for the Web3 era.
Simply put, Web1 connotes a “read-only” web; Web2 is represented by a “read-and-write” web; while Web3 signifies a “read-write-ownership” web.
What is Metaverse?
The word “metaverse” originated in the 1992 science fiction novel Snow Crash, written by Neal Stephenson, as a portmanteau of “meta” and “universe”. Metaverse development is often linked to advancing virtual reality technology due to increasing demands for immersion.
In other words, metaverse is a 3D virtual world that consists of its own social economy and social system, where users can have immersive experiences by virtually meeting others or buying virtual assets.
Different from Web3, metaverse is a concept of a virtual society that applies many decentralized technologies such as blockchain to offer a parallel universe for users.
According to Tim Sweeney, the CEO of game developer Epic Games, the metaverse is a virtual world where everyone can participate in, create contents and have the equal rights to share the benefits.
With Decentralized Identifiers (DIDs), users will be able to move freely between platforms, and each person will have their own universal identities and universal wallets. Most importantly, the metaverse is not controlled or owned by any individual company.
How do Web3 and the metaverse tie in with each other?
From the concepts mentioned above, we can conclude that Web3 signifies the technology aspect of the future Internet, while the metaverse refers to a virtual lifestyle of the future.
Web3, consisting of technologies such as blockchain, decentralization, distributed databases and edge computing, will form the core upon which the metaverse is built upon.
And far-sighted industry players are already looking to leverage the tremendous opportunities offered by this positive synergy of technology and community.
Sweeney has publicly stated that he believes the metaverse presents a multi trillion-dollar opportunity. With this perspective, Epic Games’ flagship product Fortnite has rapidly evolved from being a multiplayer game into an online space where participants socialize and big-name musicians host virtual concerts, according to Bloomberg reports. With the aim to push the development of the metaverse, Fortnite now competes with world-building games like Minecraft and Roblox Corp.’s eponymous title.
In addition to the game developers, many world-leading blockchain companies have also taken action to facilitate the development of the metaverse and Web3.
Huobi Global, a world-leading cryptocurrency exchange and blockchain solutions provider, has been helping Web2 users make the transition to Web3. For example, the company launched a Lunar New Year campaign in January this year to encourage users to sign up for DIDs.. Those who registered were eligible to receive tiger-themed NFT avatars. Such a campaign reflects the company’s commitment to furthering Web3 and the development of the metaverse.
With the belief that Web3 will be the future of the Internet, Huobi Global is truly excited about the possibilities offered by a decentralized Internet, and will invest in public chain projects that provide the infrastructure for Web3.
The development of Web3 and the metaverse requires tremendous efforts on the part of both industry players and netizens alike, and the Web3 age has yet to fully mature.. But one thing is clear — harnessing technologies like blockchain, artificial intelligence, augmented reality and virtual reality will enhance virtual communities and the Internet as never before. We can only wait to see what the future holds.