After a good 15-ish–year run, most technology watchers agree that we are nearing the end of Web 2.0, and that the dawn of Web 3.0—aka the metaverse, depending on whose positioning you prefer—is upon us.
This transition is taking place against a complicated backdrop featuring no fewer than three simultaneously developing but fundamentally distinct trends:
- First is the rise of crypto, which is leveraging technical and economic breakthroughs to make it finally possible to put memory, assets and ownership natively on the web.
- Second is the seeming imminence of the experiential web via augmented and virtual reality. As many see it, this set of technologies will have a profound effect on our relationship with digital spaces and communities.
- Last is a cultural revolution—long brewing among the younger generations but accelerated and disseminated by the Covid-19 pandemic, which forced great swaths of people to work and socialize in purely digital spaces. People are now rapidly coming to value their digital lives, communities and spaces every bit as much as their physical ones.
Things didn’t have to play out this way—that is to say, none of these trends is the direct result of any of the others—yet here we are. Let’s use this moment to take stock.