On the importance of upcoming web developments for business communicators.
Winter’s coming and we are all bracing for looming energy price hikes, whilst tensions between the US and China have added to the growing list of potentially world changing problems. With all of this as a backdrop, should we really find the time to care about Silicon Valley’s latest wheeze – Web3?
Firstly, let’s outline what is meant by ‘Web3’ and how it got to this point. Web3 has been caricaturised by the ‘metaverse’ concept, with uninformed notions that it is merely a gamified version of real life. In actuality, it references a fundamental decentralisation of internet data control and monetary exchange, opening new modes of gamified virtual communication for people and businesses.
‘Web1’ was the internet’s initial iteration, culminating with the ‘dot com crash’ of the early 2000s, resulting in many dismissing the internet as a fad. ‘Web2’ evolved from this, surprising the world with a decentralised internet that allowed more two-way communication and content generation, ushering in a bloom of social media platforms augmented by the smartphone’s invention. Data monetisation became central to Web2, which came to a head when the 2016 Cambridge Analytica scandal threatened democracies globally.
Web3 can be contextualised as a response to this scandal, with blockchain technology proliferation allowing internet users to reclaim data control and begin utilising secure cryptocurrencies. It is helpful to understand virtual reality (VR), combined with blockchain technology, as the equivalent of smartphones in Web2. This pairing is now securing virtual objects as purchasable commodities and delivering marketing spaces that can be operated across other Web3 spaces.
I will avoid the polarised discourse on NFTs (non fungible tokens), but they are perhaps best understood as prototypes of the types of virtual assets that can, and will, be monetised.
Data control has reared its ugly head again, with Apple and Meta being the main contenders in a battle to determine the fate of Web3. Ultimately, these tech giants were Web2 data gatekeepers and have most to lose from further decentralisation. Both are now in the final stages of developing their next generation of VR headsets, contending in their aim to initiate people en masse into social, business, and retail virtual spaces.
In response, 560 Web3 developer companies have formed the Open Metaverse Alliance to contest this drive to centralise control, championing the continued use of blockchain to safeguard user-controlled experiences.
Of course, corporations are watching this new arena with interest.
With Deutsche Bank labelling it the next eCommerce revolution, Web3 has arguably already transcended the confines of a fringe tech project. Brands such as Nike, Gucci, and football club Manchester City have already invested in it as a marketing tool, with academia and even religion hot on their heels.
Given that interactive events are possibly the easiest application of the medium for emerging Web3 developers, it is not unreasonable to assume that marketing agents and PRs could soon benefit from scanning for sponsorship and attendance opportunities.
This is therefore a moment for business communicators to take stock. Rather than asking if Web3 will happen, businesses should be assessing the benefits associated with being an early adopter.
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