[This was my weekly column for GlobalNews.ca. – AC]
SINGAPORE — If you want to kill a conversation quickly, just bring up words like “metaverse,” “crypto,” and “blockchain.” Eyes glaze over followed by some version of “Oh, look at the time. I must go.”
I can relate. “Metaverse” conjures up vague notions of whatever Facebook is building and involves wearing a heavy and expensive headset. “Crypto” is some weird virtual currency Matt Damon keeps trying to sell us and may or may not include a thing called Bitcoin. And “blockchain?” Who knows?
Here’s another term you can use to execute any conversation: “Web3.” Ready or not, this is where the internet is headed.
Hold on. Let’s back up.
The age of the internet is entering its third major era of evolution. Web 1.0 involved everyone building websites and publishing content. Think about all the gaudy, basic websites that littered the internet a couple of decades ago. Communication was almost exclusively one-way, from the publisher to the public. Content was pushed out.
We’re currently in the 2.0 era, a time controlled by big tech companies like Google, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, Snapchat — and all the streaming music platforms. Web 2.0 allows users to publish and communicate with each other — at least to a limited extent, anyway, through leaving comments and maybe direct messaging.
More importantly, though, Web 2.0 has allowed these companies to become immensely wealthy by using the personal data we happily provide them by using their free services. Data is the new oil. In fact, data is now the most valuable commodity in the known universe.
Keep reading. It’s important.