Recently, concept of metaverse has a rapidly growing popularity around the world, Everyone is talking about metaverse and a huge number of internet companies are developing metaverse products now. The popularity should give the credit to Mark Zuckerburg, who has recently changed the company’s name “Facebook” to “Meta” and announced the company’s new strategy to bring metaverse to life .
However, it is not Facebook which first starts to develop metaverse product, actually the concept has already become popular for years in crypto world and there are many quite cool metaverse products there now, for example, Decentraland. It is just because blockchain or crypto industry is a niche industry and lack of influence that make Facebook the first one to bring the concept metaverse to the public.
One important question is, what is metaverse? There are no official definitions and different people have different interpretation of the concept. One thing is clear that the vision of metaverse is to create a whole virtual world online, but what the virtual world will be like differs from each other. However, we could still mainly divide them into two categories based on the technologies they use and the idea they propagate, one is the products developed by traditional internet companies like Facebook, which we could call them web2.0 metaverse products, while the other is the products developed by web3.0 technologies, such as Decentraland, which we could call them web3.0 metaverse products. Public tend to consider them as similar products because they may have similar functions on the surface while they are actually totally different kinds of metaverse products with quite different ideas.
Difference between web2.0 and web3.0 metaverse ideas
In order to understand the difference between these two kinds of metaverse, we first need to understand the difference between web2.0 and web3.0. The current internet services we are using now are all based on web2.0 technology, The typical mode of it is that a company develop an internet service, such as website or a mobile app, then we use the internet service and create contents on it. For example, Facebook runs www.facebook.com for us to do social activities online, Amazon runs www.amazon.com for us to sell and buy goods on online. The idea of web2.0 metaverse is to operate a huge internet service for people around the world to working, playing, and communicating on it.
Seems sounds great, but I have to say that it is web2.0 itself that is not perfect and has many drawbacks. The biggest problem of this mode is that the internet services we are using nowadays are all running on the servers provided by the service providers, who take full control of them. It leads to two serious consequences, one is all our data, account info and using data on the service actually belong to the service providers, the other is we cannot know what the service can do to us because we do not own the service program. In fact, service providers can restrict our using by closing our account or deleting our contents, also can invade our privacy, catching our personal info to make huge profit, monitoring us or doing malicious behavior to us without awareness. The situation got much worse for the Internet has now been monopolized by a few of internet tycoons. All the apps we daily use are run by them, giving them great power, which is very dangerous cause they are unsupervised commercial organizations that only want to make more profit.
Web3.0 is a bright new idea compared web2.0. Web3.0 “is an idea for a new iteration of the World Wide Web based on blockchains( maybe with other technologies in the future), which incorporates concepts including decentralization and token-based economics.” from Wikipedia. What should a web3.0 app be like has various interpretations, however there are two key points which are consensuses by web3.0 developers now:
Decentralization guarantees that the web3.0 internet service cannot be controlled by any centralized organization. Smart contract is open-sourced, and once it has been published, it will operate automatically according to the logic written in the code. It is fair, transparent, and reliable, not like web2.0 apps which service programs are close-sourced.
b. Ownership of data
Data is owned by users in web3.0 service instead of service provider. It is decentralized stored, lasting forever, platform-crossed cannot be tempered. Service provider cannot utilize user’s data without user’s permission anymore.
c. Self-owned digital ID
User’s accounts actually belong to service providers in web2.0 because accounts data is only stored in providers databases, if the data has been deleted, your accounts are deleted. Also, these accounts are isolated, every app need a new account. On the contrary, users can have their unique digital ID in web3.0 world which is truly owned by themselves and can be used across all web3.0 services.
We could try Decentraland to deeply understand these features. In Decentraland, the figure and size of virtual lands are determined at the beginning and cannot be changed by anyone. People use their ETH accounts to visit the virtual world and buy lands there. The lands you have bought are your private assets on the Internet, which cannot be controlled by anyone also, and you can build anything you want on them. Decentraland shows the core ideas of web3.0 metaverse although it is a little bit primitive nowadays.
Why we need web3.0 metaverse products
Once we realize the difference between web2.0 and web3.0, we could easily get the conclusion that web3.0 metaverse is much better than web2.0 metaverse.
Web2.0 metaverse can be dazzling since web2.0 technologies are mature and fast but it is very dangerous. We must guarantee no secret surveillance or malicious behavior to us in a metaverse. Imagine that one day we all log in to a metaverse which is run by a web2.0 internet tycoon, and do everything on it, working, playing, dating, etc. What will be like in the end? The CEO of the company will become the god of the metaverse beyond all doubt. It is his metaverse, not ours. Although web2.0 tycoons are promising not to catch user data and accounts belonging to users in their metaverse product, it is untrustworthy unless they make their program code out-sourced.
Actually, Web2.0 metaverse and web3.0 metaverse have different emphasis. The key point of web2.0 metaverse is virtual reality, like an online huge computer game, while the key point of the other is virtual world. Laws of a real virtual world should be stable, transparent and fair to everyone, the same as real world which real laws are physical laws. Only web3.0 metaverse could made it by making the application code open sourced and decentralized.
Another fascinating feature of web3.0 is that all web3.0 apps are open to each other while web2.0 apps are isolated. One web3.0 app can simply invoke other web3.0 apps, so web3.0 metaverse can be build like building blocks together. Someone first develop basic laws of the metaverse, then others build applications on them when they are stable and every application just need to focus on one feature without starting from bottom. The practice of DeFi world shows the great vitality and fast evolution of mode.
To conclude, web3.0 not web2.0 metaverse is the right direction, and it will grow quickly in the near future. Let’s embrace it.