September 2, 2022 11:07 AM

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Web3 is a classic Next Big Thing: very exciting with tremendous potential, but still in its infancy with plenty of unknowns. As the Harvard Business Review recently wrote, “[Web3] offers a read/write/own version of the web, in which users have a financial stake and more control over the web communities they belong to.” Moving some control from the tech giants to everyone else sounds intriguing, so why all the drama about Web3 in discussion groups, online skirmishes, conferences, and the media?

You’ve seen the headlines: “so and so got scammed for $X millions of crypto…” — and in some recent cases, more than mere millions. The victims include sophisticated companies. The blockchain is the foundation of Web3, and while it solves some problems, it has also enabled new ones. Depending on who you ask, Web3 is a fundamental makeover of the Internet, a scam, a hyped rebranding of Web 2.0, or all the above. And industry-savvy people are ready to argue all sides with religious fervor. 

Web3: Many camps of thought on trust and identity

Within the world of Web3 advocates, there are at least three groupings of opinion on the issue of identity. For those who aren’t familiar, here’s a quick run-through. 

Some envision Web3 as a world where our identities remain secret — where our true legal identity is never supplied and thus cannot be easily exploited by tech giants and governments.

On the other end of the spectrum is the full-trust community, which is committed to a Web3 where everyone’s true legal identity goes everywhere with them, so they will presumably be more trustworthy and accountable in Web3.

Finally, between those two “purist” positions is a gray zone that’s favored by some who endorse pseudonymity; that is, users can build up an online persona and reputation, and that creates some trust, but real identities are usually concealed. A user would be known only as LAballplayer6, not by his real name, Lebron James. In the case of illegal behavior, law enforcement can presumably link the pseudonym to the real person behind it. Marketers trying to sell consumer items could not, though.

One reason I am optimistic that Web3 actually is a Next Big Thing is that it’s dynamic and vibrant enough to encompass these different viewpoints and deliver different environments. 

Web3 can help solve a number of different problems. Removing the middle
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