Most evolutionary leaps occur over many little steps. What is the Metaverse, the Web3, NFTs, and similar terms, and how is the internet changing?
Most evolutionary leaps occur over many little steps. What is the Metaverse, the Web3, NFTs, and similar terms, and how is the internet changing?

The internet is evolving.

It is moving to the next phase of its existence. It has come a long way from the read-only era of one-way communication (reading contents) [the Web1] to the participatory, interactive era of the Web2, which combines web applications, user software, architecture, an engagement culture and social networking.

Today, things are radically different and we are watching the Web evolve itself.

Now you can own a piece of the internet. Yes, literally. And whatever slice of the cake you release, you legally and intellectually own and can control. This is the essence of Web3. If Web1 was the Bachelors level of the internet, and Web2 was the Masters level, Web3 will be the Doctoral level.

Web3 is an era of decentralization, a radical difference from today’s centralized world. As a user, builder or developer, you own pieces of internet services by owning tokens. These can be non-fungible (NFT) or fungible. They are property rights – portions of the internet that legally and verifiably belong to you.

But, let’s start with the basics. I will attempt to break it further down into chewable, tasty, digestible bits.

What does “fungible” mean? Simple: replaceable, interchangeable.

In economics, a commodity is “fungible” if it can be replaced, interchanged without any issues. In short, you cannot distinguish it in a pack or bunch. Think about grains of rice. Could you distinguish one grain from another in a cup? No? Excellent. We’re getting somewhere. Other fungible items/commodities are money, bitcoin, oranges, oil.

Naturally, “non-fungible” means the exact opposite. Irreplaceable, unique. It is a non-interchangeable unit of data stored on a digital ledger. Of course, this makes it easy to identify, source and verify ownership. With NFTs, you can own objects – music, video, images, code, text, user credentials, among other things. For instance, there are certain “non-fungible” aspects to your person – your fingerprints, DNA, your tongue, toe print, your teeth.

So how does this relate to Web3?

Remember those Privacy Policies you never read and just accept? Data storage and User right many-pagers that you quickly scroll to the end of and “accept” so you can quickly post your “pepper them” Friday groove pictures on Instagram? Well, virtually all of them say this simple phrase: as long as you use our platform, we control how we use your data. In short, your payment for using Facebook (for free) or chatting on WhatsApp without subscription is that your personal data is released to Facebook to use. Facebook then tailors this information to the use of advertising agencies of companies in search of targeted customers. That’s why you soon begin to get targeted ads after searching for specific items. This is Web 2 – the era of interoperability, social interaction and engagement, exchange of information.

Enter, Web3.

Web 3 takes the operation of the web from the hands of the tech behemoths and puts it in the hands of users. It is decentralized, meaning it is no longer controlled by a few companies. You are a co-landlord on the internet, a co-owner of whichever space you interact on. You can roll up your contents, withdraw, sell, auction, license this or that or the other, as you please. Remember, that these property rights (NFT or Fungible) are yours to use. This is why the NFT market has experienced an explosion in the past year. From Jack Dorsey (of Twitter) auctioning his earliest tweet for over $2.9 million to a CryptoPunk NFT which sold for about $530 million. These intellectual property (digital) rights enforce and protect originality and establish your ownership, no matter how many times the original item/object/token is duplicated.


Before I end, a few words on Mark and the Meta. On Thursday, October 28 2021, Facebook announced that it was changing its parent name to Meta – an interesting depiction of an element of the Web3. If you’ve been paying attention, he’s been fixated on the Metaverse for quite some time.

Wikipedia defines “Metaverse” as “a speculative future iteration of the Internet part of shared virtual reality, often as a form of social media. The metaverse in a broader sense may not only refer to virtual worlds operated by social media companies but the entire spectrum of augmented reality.”

No worries, I’ll help you simplify.

Imagine a figment of reality whereby you can step into the 3D world of the Avengers, sit beside Thor and inspect Ironman’s vest as he prepares to confront Thanos. Or wearing your 3D glass and walking into rooms, avoiding landmines, jumping fences in a simulated warcraft video game.

In short, the fullest extent of this era is made possible because of general, multi-billion-people access, ownership and liberty regarding digital data. If you’ve seen Ready Player One or Ryan Reynold’s recent Free Guy, you will truly get the picture. And the true essence of this is made possible because of Web3. [I’m assuming by now, this is no longer a strange word to you.]

Mark’s strategic foray into the metaverse in advance of a majority of the global populace, his lopsided control of the data of more than 3.8 billion cumulative users across the world, and a realisation of how much social power he wields isn’t coincidental. While the majority of us are either oblivious to the internet’s metamorphosis happening around us and the fullest implications of the shared digital rights era, Mark has purchased hectares of “land” in Web3, hoping to capitalise on the Kingdom he already controls and shape-shift it into an attractive future city. Love him or hate him, he is extremely dogged, and the fact that people underestimate him tickles me a lot. He is the Jobs of our dispensation and has transmorphed into a veteran before our very eyes.

Are you starting to pay attention?

I would like to hear your thoughts.

And by the way, you can read some more of my writing here.