I spend a lot of my time beyond the cutting edge. If the Early Adopters in the 'Diffusion of Innovation' theory of Everett Rogers are the ones on the Cutting Edge, the Innovators are on the Bleeding Edge.
Web3 is on the bleeding edge right now. It's messy. It's new. It's the butt of a lot of jokes, because it's built on the blockchain, and cryptocurrency has a bad reputation at the moment.
But the tech behind web3 is fascinating. Here's the simplest explanation I have found for what web3 is, and what it means:
Right now, you have one login for each profile on every service everywhere. You could use the same username and password for all of them, but in web2, that's a security risk. It's likely you have multiple passwords that you have to manage, and you might use a password manager like LastPass to keep track of them all.
But what if you logged in once, on your computer, and then you could access all of your profiles on multiple websites, everywhere?
That's what web3 can do.
The best way to think of the evolution of web3 is software file permissions.
Hang with me, I promise not to get too geeky.
File permissions can get complicated, but there are only 3 real states you need to know: Read, Write, and Execute. These three states are assigned to the User, the Group, and the World.
Web1 is when the world could Read content. A website published something, and anyone, anywhere, could read what they published. These were the days of Geocities websites, when only a few people had access to building and deploying content on the web.
Web2 was a revolution because anyone could Write content. You could make a post on Myspace, and everyone in the world could read it! But only on Myspace. If you wanted to make a post on Twitter, you had to sign in, with separate credentials, and post over there.
Web3 breaks down the walled gardens between these services, and allows you to make one post, on one profile, that is syndicated everywhere. New social media applications like Deso and Bluesky are working with this technology, and the posts I make there (viewable at those links!) can be seen on other services, not just where I posted them.
The real breakthrough with web3 is the ability to Execute. You can verify a financial transaction, or a vote in a DAO (Decentralized Autonomous Organization), or your purchase or sale of an asset, with your smart wallet.
A smart wallet (like Metamask) is where you sign in, one time. Then, any service online that wants to verify it's you, will ask your smart wallet. You click a button to verify it's you, and you're done! No more one-time-passcodes, no 2-factor authentication, no email verification links.
One login for the internet.
If you're interested in what's happening on the bleeding edge of web3, I'm teaching a free workshop for TechWeekNZ in 2 weeks called 'Token-Gating Membership in Web3 Communities.'
Since I make membership websites for clients, I've been experimenting with using web3 technology to lock down premium content, and verifying members through the ownership of a specific NFT.
If you're interested in this learning more about this kind of bleeding-edge technology, then I invite you to join me: