As Kate already wrote before, the world of Arweave and other Web3 networks might appear kind of confusing and even unapproachable to an artistic personality, or a blogger, or just a simple young mom (all three refer to me as a person). With practically no technological knowledge whatsoever, trying to take an usual path in a world of phenomena that sounds more related to IT than anything else sounds incredibly overwhelming. But is it? Is it really?
If you are like me, just as human as I am, full of preconceived opinions about things you are not familiar with, encountering terms like “blockchain” or “NFT” or “Web3”, you automatically think of sad and lonely people sitting in their dark rooms surrounded by dirty coffee cups and empty crisp bags. (Here I will note that having been indoctrinated in the ecosystem I have changed my mind and perhaps, the only dirty coffee cup is the one on my desk).
Or just the opposite – a light and ultramodern co-working office space with young and perspective minds roaming between interactive whiteboards, solving complicated problems nobody else has in the outside world. See what I did here? I tried to face my biases and cliches I see the world through, consequently, get rid of them in order to really comprehend the Web3 and Arweave ecosystem, with the utmost open mind as I can.
Because, at the same time, there is something very tempting about getting to know what this alternative universe is. It’s a community, an appealing one. I don’t know about you, but I have heard Web3 is de-centralised, in a way more democratic and probably more likeable than previous Webs, so this sounds intriguing to me.
But the entry barrier is high for a common user with preconceptions of what Web3 is. So I wanted to start at the beginning, at the point of not understanding it. Why? Because I didn’t. But I should have, if only I had known the benefits of it earlier. So welcome, on this journey to Web3.
Web3 – the brief explanation
Let’s see what Web3 is, and I mean it in a total simple Web user’s way, so let’s do that thing together. Very short definition of Web3, presented by Wiki, is “decentralised online ecosystem based on blockchain”. If you already feel the need for some footnotes, here is a glossary.
Two key concepts of Web3 are – using a ”cryptocurrency wallet ”such as ArConnect or Metamask for identification and login, instead of the good old username and password system. Since a user is connected with their wallet it makes it easy to do verified transactions.
Secondly, Web3 consists of web applications that are based on ”decentralised”, ”blockchain-based networks”. That means, there is nobody or nothing that controls the connection but it rather has many smaller networks and participants. Whereas that means that if some of the connection breaks down, that whole network doesn’t become paralysed, as there are still others to fall back on, not a single (or several) server that whole system of connections relies on. But this is not the way how decentralisation applies to Web3, to see more about it, read this.
Other differences between Web2 and Web3
Before doing not even a closely full comparison, it’s important to keep in mind that no Web is a fully completed system, something you can analyse from the beginning to the end. Any kind of network is a structure of rather processes than products. Web2 is an existing and functioning system, and Web3 is still in its early days, although it’s diligently developing its way to be a self-sufficient alternative to Web2. We’re still talking about concepts here, right?
Let’s talk details now, or in other words, what’s the difference between Web2 concerning the simple user level, e.g., me and you.
Although you might have a thousand million identities aka usernames and passwords in the Web2, your identity is anything but safe there – it is susceptible to hacks, and the data can be decrypted. Web3 offers a different way of carrying your identity across pages, services, and protocols – already mentioned wallet e.g. ArConnect, which functions as an eye-scan alike identifier (except it’s nothing biometrical) and contactless payment card simultaneously. Something you carry around the Web3 but which does not give away your personal data.
Instead of “renting” a domain name from Google or any other monopoly tech company, that runs the Web2, in Web3 you buy it just like any other NFT – this is possible through Web3 services like Unstoppable Domains.
Legacy email clients, like Gmail and America Online may work for most people, but those who feel concerned about privacy and tracking policies, might be interested in trying a decentralised Web3 email client, such as MyMail.
Web browsers and plug-ins
Perhaps in the near future we will witness a genuinely decentralised browser with no single entity able to control the data. Currently, web browsers can act as windows into the blockchain world through plug-ins, and most of them work with Microsoft Edge, Google Chrome, and the Brave browser, e.g. the Arweave wallet plug-in.
Cloud solutions on Web2 require you to pay a monthly fee and have your data stored on servers controlled by single entities. This means your storage is at risk of being lost or deleted in case the server fails somehow. Alternative way of storage services is decentralised Web3 and blockchain services, as Arweave’s Permaweb. You pay once to upload your data to the network, where it will be stored immutably if not forever, then at least for 200 years.
Social media platforms are something that Web2 users cannot imagine their life without. It became huge exactly through the second generation of the Internet aka Web2. But something went wrong – data privacy violations, data exploitation for targeted advertising, content moderation problems that are too controlling and therefore causing questions about freedom of speech and at the same time leading an important role when dealing with cyber-bullying and misinformation. Hopefully, these problems could be solved with decentralised social networks. Read more about the prospects of social media platforms in Web3 comparing to Web2 in this article.
Music, video and media
Artists and other creatives usually use streaming platforms like Spotify and Deezer which take a significant cut from artists’ sales. Streaming platforms offered by Web3 such as Releap, Pianity, Nina, and Permacast allows artists to take back control of their content and deliver it to their fans in alternative ways. Glass protocol allows users to upload videos to Arweave’s Permaweb, which then can be auctioned directly to buyers, which allows content creators to earn more than they would ever do on YouTube.
So how to get into Web3?
Ok, I get it – compared to Web2 fuedal-like system, where you permanently rent something that is yours, either with money, or your personal data, Web3 is some kind of fairyland where everybody’s buying their digital assets in order to do and keep whatever they want – forever and ever. But where’s the key to Web3?
Let’s start from the beginning, the key is a wallet, which will serve as your multi-pass in Web3. Here’s an easy manual on how to start your journey with the Arweave.
How is Arweave’s Web3?
Arweave is a tool to help people store their data permanently. It works by distributing stored information across a network of computers called nodes or miners – so it works in a decentralised way of Web3. Arweave serves the ‘permaweb’ – a parallel internet – from a wide network of nodes, all of which earn money by providing existing data over a long period of time and storing new data on request. Arweave runs on it’s own cryptocurrency – AR. When people spend AR to store data, miners earn it.
For a full explanation on what is Arweave, read this article.
Now, this is a brief intro in to the world of Web3. The main keypoints I’d take from this is that if you care to own what’s yours, not rent it out from others, and if you care for your data privacy it’s the way to go. Why isn’t it the main choice for everyone? Well, for one, because not enough people know about it. Secondly, there’s the stigma that all crypto is bad, a ponzi scheme and whatnot. I’d more so say, that Web2 is closer to a ponzi-scheme given that the terms are so complex and stripping of your rights – it’s similar to signing a waiver before a surgery when you hardly know what you’re signing off. In Web3 all is clear – you purchase storage and you own it. What’s more logical than that?
Whilst this is only a brief summary of what Web3 is (and already exceeding 1500 words so kudos for getting this far), I hope it’s helpful to put the two options side by side and see what the obvious choice is. Check out our other beginner’s guides on how to get started with the ecosystem (or leave a comment with “WTF DO I DO?” because we’ve got you!). It’s not only bias that makes me advocate for you to start with Arweave ASAP, it’s a genuine trust in what I’m finding to be the logical choice for anyone caring for their data and privacy.