The world of web3 in 8 keywords by Ann for Flanders DC

You’ve probably heard of web3 by now. Web3 heralds a new evolution of the internet, in which the end user plays a crucial role. What exactly does that mean and can it be useful for entrepreneurs in the creative sector? And what exactly do terms such as blockchain, wallet and metaverse mean?  An article written for the online magazine of Flanders DC

1. Web3

What exactly is web3? To understand this properly, let’s go back to the beginnings of the world wide web. Initially, the internet was intended to provide information in an easy and global way. Web pages made content available to anyone whose computer had an Internet connection. That was web1.

Over time, this static content became increasingly dynamic and interactive. Responding became possible, even sharing content was possible, photos and videos took their place on the internet and social media also saw the light of day. That is web2, the internet as we know and use it today and where major players (Google, Amazon, Meta,…) are in control and especially our data. These large companies use our data (content, reactions, play time, insights,…) to earn money, so that the user immediately becomes the product of these services.

Web3 takes a different approach and wants to return the power of data to its owner in order to create a more democratic internet. You therefore remain the owner of your information, your ‘work’,… and can decide for yourself what happens to it. And that is just now possible by means of a new technology. Instead of storing this data centrally at the major players, it ends up in a network of different computers and servers. This system is called a blockchain.

illustration © Toykyo
2. Blockchain

Simply put: each blockchain consists of several computers and servers that contain part of the data (or copies of it) as links. Together, these links form a chain of data called a blockchain. Because these different computers and servers always compare the stored data with each other, it immediately becomes impossible to modify or falsify and the dependence on one external party for data storage is therefore also superfluous. The data is encrypted, making the blockchain decentralized, traceable and secure.

There are different blockchains, each with their own uniqueness, such as Bitcoin, Ethereum, Solana, Lukso, Algorand, Tezos, Cardano, …

Be sure to check out this video in which expert Jef Cavens explains blockchain with references to the fashion world.

3. NFT

We often hear the word NFT in the news these days, but what exactly is an NFT? NFT stands for ‘non-fungible token’ (translated: non-fungible or unique token) and works on the basis of the technology that creates a digital ownership certificate with which you can prove that you are the owner of the digital content. An NFT is therefore not the item in itself. The information about this certificate, with a timestamp, is stored on a blockchain, making it unique and traceable. Storing this information on a blockchain is what we call “minting”.

Discover together with Ryan Gill from Crucible & Ann Claes in this Flanders DC webinar what exactly NFTs can mean for creative entrepreneurs.

illustration © Toykyo
4. Smart contracts

When you place an NFT on a blockchain, you also create a smart contract. This smart contract describes what the NFT entails, which rights have been sold exactly (copyrights, commercial rights,…), but also whether or not royalties flow back to the original author in case of resale. That makes it interesting to be able to follow every transaction in the future and, if it continues to increase in value over time, to even earn money from it.

5. Cryptocurrency

Cryptocurrency is a form of digital money that does not require the intervention of banks or other financial institutions to register transactions. All transactions are tracked on a blockchain. Bitcoin is by far the best known digital currency, but there are hundreds of other digital coins including Ether, Tezos, Polkadot, Dogecoin and Ripple.

6. Wallet

A wallet is literally a digital wallet where you can store your belongings. This contains the items you own on the blockchain(s). These can include NFTs and crypto coins. The wallet is anonymous and publicly accessible. Anyone can view your wallet and add something to your wallet. If someone else puts something in your wallet, it’s called an airdrop.

To move items in a wallet, you need the security codes. If you have lost these codes, you can recover your wallet by using a unique code of 12 words, also known as a ‘seed phrase’. Popular systems for a wallet are, for example, Metamask and Trust wallet, but there are also external, cold wallets such as Ngrave and Ledger. Please note, if you have lost access to your wallet, there is no one who can help you further. There is no help desk or customer service. You are therefore responsible for this yourself.

Wallets are regarded as an important part of your digital identity and, in addition to the functional aspect, also have a showroom effect. For example, Twitter, Instagram and Spotify make connections with your wallet so that you can ‘flex’ or display your valuable assets on other existing platforms.

7. Metaverse

The term metaverse is currently used in a variety of ways. The term is often used for an immersive virtual world where people — usually on the basis of an avatar — can meet each other, work together, learn, play, etc. This 3D world can be supplemented with Virtual or Augmented Reality experiences to offer a more immersive experience.

Metaverse and web3 are often linked as the metaverse can also be seen as a third and immersive version of the internet, as a digital version of normal life where you can work, shop, relax, earn,…

However, the web3 philosophy does apply to the metaverse. Just think of buying and owning digital clothes for an avatar in a decentralized way. These title deeds can be stored with blockchain technology. Emerging platforms such as The Sandbox and Decentraland are built on this concept.
8. Digital identity

We spend more and more time online. The digital world will become increasingly important in the future, especially among the younger generations. Just like in the real world, the will for an own identity is very strong. In daily life, the choices about our clothing, haircut, possessions, who our idols are, which parties we attend, … make us who we are and how we present ourselves to others. This need also exists in the digital world. Consider, for example, the use of filters, the number of likes, the type of contacts, …

Creating a digital personality (or even several) will go hand in hand with the items you own. Here, too, uniqueness and scarcity are important, which is where NFT technology comes in handy. For example, you will be able to unpack or even trade a limited edition digital sneaker, just like in the real world today.

Do you want to know more? Then listen to this podcast episode of Vers van de Metapers (also available via Spotify).