What Is Web3? (How Does It Work)

Written by Coursera • Updated on

As the internet is evolving, learn more about Web3, how it differs from Web 2.0, and the different job opportunities in this field.

[Featured image] A Web3 developer works at a desktop analyzing the latest information that can be used in web development.

Since the rise of the web in the 1990s, the internet has been an evolving space. What started as a repository for information turned into a place where people seek answers to questions, connect with others, and share knowledge. Today, the internet continues to develop, and its most recent incarnation is what users call Web 3.0, or Web3.

Supporters believe Web3 is the future of the internet. Crypto-related projects continue to attract venture capitalists who have infused the sector with billions of dollars over the last couple of years. Many web developers, content managers, legal analysts, and more have started to explore careers in this field. Web3 may be in its infancy, but understanding how it works can help determine if it's a field you want to explore.

Web 3.0 explained

Web 3.0 is a term used to describe the next stage in the internet's development. One of Ethereum's cofounders introduced the term in 2014 as he shared a vision for a decentralized version of the internet that lessens the influence of the corporations that tended to dominate Web 2.0, namely Meta, Amazon, and Google.

In this version of the internet, users do not need to log in to an account on a platform like Google or Twitter to access information. They also have greater control over their data instead of sharing it with companies that monetize personal information. The result is an interactive internet experience that gives people more ownership and privacy regarding their data.

History of the web so far

To understand how Web 3.0 works and why it's poised to change the way people interact online, it helps to learn the history of the web. You can divide the internet into two distinct periods called Web 1.0 and Web 2.0.

Web 1.0

Web 1.0 dates back to the early 1990s. This version of the internet featured static web pages coded in HTML. It created an open and decentralized place where users could search for and find information through browsers like Netscape and Internet Explorer. This version of the internet introduced sites like WebMD, where they could look up medical conditions and symptoms, and GeoCities that let users create web pages in online neighborhoods.

Web 2.0

By the decade's end, people began seeing the internet as more than an online encyclopedia. The rise of blogging sites, forums, and wikis gave users places to share information and connect with other people. This ushered in Web 2.0, which rose to prominence in the early to mid-2000s. Technology companies leveraged the power of social media to develop an infrastructure that allowed a small number of companies to wield power. These companies include Meta, Twitter, Google, and Amazon.

How does Web 3.0 work?

Web 3.0 works by combining the decentralization of Web 1.0 with the interactiveness of Web 2.0 in a user-friendly interface. Ideally, it gives users more control over their online experience and increased security through blockchain technology. Artificial intelligence, machine learning, and natural language programming also play key roles by mimicking how humans identify patterns and communicate through words and symbols.

Comparing Web 3.0 to Web 2.0 may help you understand how it's different from its predecessor. In Web 2.0, when you scroll through a social media platform or use a search engine, you receive ads related to the types of accounts and websites you were browsing. That's because big tech companies (Meta, Google, etc.) collect data about your online activities. These companies monetize this data by selling ads to companies it thinks offer products and services you're interested in purchasing.

All of this happens through blockchain technology, the decentralized transaction ledger that stores data in blocks that all users can see. Web 2.0 forces you to rely on the technology and security of big tech companies. Web 3.0 puts the control in your hands—and the hands of all other users. Users contributing to Web 3.0 can receive tokens in exchange for participating in the development. 

Advantages of Web 3.0

Web 3.0 offers greater control over personal data and decentralized data storage. Many of these advantages stem from its decentralized structure, which shifts control of the internet from big tech companies to those who use it.

For example, Web 2.0 users must log in to a platform to access, share, or interact with content. The platform ultimately controls who can join and how they interact with others. It can remove users or limit what they can do on the platform. Web 3.0 gives this control to the community, who can then self-govern the content and the people sharing it. Here are more benefits of a decentralized internet:

  • Interaction: Users should have more opportunities to interact with content and other users in Web 3.0 and experience higher levels of engagement than they do with Web 2.0 and 1.0 websites and platforms.

  • Ownership: Web 3.0 users are more than content consumers. They are owners of the community who receive incentives for participation instead of being asked to trade their personal data to access platforms.

  • Permissions: All network users have access to the network's data and permission to use the service.

  • Privacy: In Web 3.0, your identity attaches to your digital wallet. What you do online is open to the public, but you can keep your identity a secret.

  • Speed: The use of artificial intelligence, machine learning, and smart contracts makes it possible to get more relevant data to end users and in less time.

What to keep in mind for Web 3.0

While proponents praise the benefits of Web3, there are other factors to keep in mind, which include the following: 

  • Cost: Blockchain technology is expensive and requires considerable amounts of energy to operate. This carries over to Web3 since it operates on this technology.

  • Hardware: Users may need to invest in newer equipment to access the full benefits of Web3 platforms and applications. Older devices may not have sufficient memory or capability.

  • Regulation: Decentralization turns the responsibility of regulating content and user actions over to the public. This can create spaces for questionable content to appear online, leaving users to govern themselves. 

  • Scalability: Using blockchain to process transactions in a peer-to-peer network requires considerable computing power that currently is not scalable. This lack of scale increases costs and restricts who can participate, which leads to centralization by default.

Is Web3 the same thing as the metaverse?

Although Web3 and the metaverse overlap, they are not the same in theory or practice. Web3 describes one way today’s internet can evolve. The metaverse is a space where people interact in an immersive, virtual world. They share a vision of the internet as an extension of the real world, but they are not interchangeable terms.

The metaverse can be owned by an organization that acts like a central governing authority (Web 2.0 model), or it can take the form of a peer-to-peer network (Web3).

Placeholder

How to get involved in Web3?

You can get involved in Web3 by working for or using applications that already operate under Web3 principles. These companies tend to operate within the technology sector and offer services like networking, facilitating cryptocurrency transactions, and developing software and infrastructure solutions. Helium Systems, Coinbase Global, and Huddle operate in the Web3 market.

Types of Web3 jobs

Web3 jobs cover a range of roles, from administrative assistant and community manager to Web3 developer and C-suite positions. They also need support staff, managers, researchers, engineers, and sales personnel. Here are some Web3 jobs:

  • Beta tester: Beta testers give the first glimpse of a new platform or application. They try it and report back to the developers about their experience. This helps them identify and address problems before they release the product to the public.

  • Community manager or moderator: Community managers play an important role in the success of online communities. They onboard new members, monitor and maintain resources, keep track of community interactions and solve problems to ensure the community meets the needs of the members and stakeholders.

  • Crypto or NFT researcher or analyst: This role puts research skills to use. Professionals in this job keep track of the market performance and pricing of different types of cryptocurrency or non-fungible tokens (NFT). The data gathered helps investors decide how to invest in crypto.

  • Marketer: Web3 has the potential to transform online marketing, as it emphasizes building communities, relationships, and engagement. Marketers promote goods and services but may have less access to customer data compared to Web 2.0. You may spend more time interacting with customers to understand their needs. 

  • Technical writer: Technical writers can play an important role in helping the general public understand how Web3 works and benefits them. They take complex technical details and convert them into simpler language for the general public. They also help Web3 companies and their founders get new ideas and position themselves as experts.

  • Web3 developer: Web3 developers may work as front-end, back-end, or full-stack developers. Tasks may include writing and testing code, designing interfaces, and building contracts. 

Skills you need to work in Web3

The skills and education you need to work in Web3 vary. For example, a front-end Web3 developer may need skills like UX experience and programming languages. However, a Web3 marketer may rely on a different skill set that can include communication and data analysis. Here are some technical skills that may appear in Web3 job descriptions:

  • Blockchain technology

  • Data structures

  • Ethereum Virtual Machine

  • Front-end web development

  • Non-fungible token creation

  • Programming languages: Solidity, JavaScript, C++, Golang 

  • Smart contracts

  • UX design

Read more: What Are Technical Skills?

Aside from technical skills, workplace skills are important and can help you add value to an employer or a project. You will likely see these workplace skills listed in job descriptions: 

  • Communication

  • Flexibility

  • Problem-solving

  • Storytelling

  • Teamwork

Education 

Like with skills, the education requirements for Web3 jobs vary depending on the role. For example, if you want to work as a Web3 marketer, you may need a degree in marketing or a related field. Similarly, a software developer may want a degree in computer science.

However, it can be more beneficial to gain hands-on experience and develop the skills you need to work in Web3 than earning a degree. You can identify the type of education you need by browsing job descriptions.

Consider learning more about blockchain or cryptocurrency with online courses, coding boot camps, and taking classes at universities. Since Web3 is built on blockchain technology, learning how it works and how to use it can benefit your career. Other topics to explore include programming languages, smart contracts, Solidity, and non-fungible tokens.

Placeholder

course

Introduction to Blockchain Technologies

In this first course of the specialization, we will discuss the limitations of the Internet for business and economic activity, and explain how blockchain ...

4.7

(2,274 ratings)

63,029 already enrolled

BEGINNER level

Average time: 1 month(s)

Learn at your own pace

Thinking of a career in Web3?

If you're ready to explore a career in Web3, start building skills that be used in the field. Consider taking the Blockchain Specialization from University at Buffalo to learn about the technologies that support Web3. Through the courses in this Specialization, you can learn about topics like smart contracts, decentralized applications, and blockchain technology.

You also may enjoy learning how to use web coding tools through courses like HTML, CSS, and Javascript for Web Developers, offered by John Hopkins University and available on Coursera. If you're planning to pursue a non-technical role in Web3, check out Social Media Management from Meta.

Placeholder

specialization

Blockchain

Innovate with the Next Frontier in Technology. Learn how the blockchain is leading to a paradigm shift in decentralized application programming

4.6

(6,431 ratings)

96,745 already enrolled

INTERMEDIATE level

Average time: 4 month(s)

Learn at your own pace

Skills you'll build:

Smart Contract, Ethereum, Blockchains, Solidity, Cryptography, Bitcoin, Cryptocurrency, Blockchain, Remix IDE, MetaMask client, Decentralized Applications, Truffle IDE, Hyperledger, Microsoft Azure, Blockchain Platforms, Grid+, Augur

Placeholder

course

HTML, CSS, and Javascript for Web Developers

Do you realize that the only functionality of a web application that the user directly interacts with is through the web page? Implement it poorly and, to ...

4.7

(14,938 ratings)

890,309 already enrolled

Average time: 1 month(s)

Learn at your own pace

Skills you'll build:

HTML, JavaScript, Css Frameworks, Cascading Style Sheets (CSS)

Placeholder

course

Social Media Management

This course equips you with critical content creation and management skills. You’ll learn how to create effective social media posts and how to create a ...

4.9

(3,724 ratings)

114,243 already enrolled

BEGINNER level

Average time: 1 month(s)

Learn at your own pace

Skills you'll build:

Content Development, content management, Social Media Marketing, Content Marketing, Marketing Content Development

Written by Coursera • Updated on

This content has been made available for informational purposes only. Learners are advised to conduct additional research to ensure that courses and other credentials pursued meet their personal, professional, and financial goals.

Big savings for your big goals! Save $200 on Coursera Plus.

  • For a limited time, save like never before on a new Coursera Plus annual subscription (original price: $399 | after discount: $199 for one year).
  • Get unlimited access to 7,000+ courses from world-class universities and companies—for less than $20/month!
  • Gain the skills you need to succeed, anytime you need them—whether you’re starting your first job, switching to a new career, or advancing in your current role.