How to access Web 3 – Overview, the Technology and a Case Study on the Brave Browser
Zerocap Analyst Edward Goldman provides a timely overview of Web 3; how to access it, the tech available and under development, plus a case study on the Brave browser – currently the most popular access point for Web 3.0.
The Web – a generational breakdown
Recent decades have seen massive developments in the way we utilise the World Wide Web (Web). Whether it be reading ‘static’ online content through the original Web1.0, interacting with friends and family via social media on its successor ‘Web 2.0,’ or perhaps more recently buying and trading popular non-fungible tokens (NFTs) via ‘Web 3.0’ integration on popular Web browsers.
The blueprint of Web technology was first outlined in 1989 by Tim Burners-Lee, depicting the three intergenerational pillars from which the web has continued to develop and grow:
The first generation of the Web, known as Web 1.0, was introduced in 1989 and ran into late 2005. This variant was known as the ‘read only’ web. Its ‘read only’ nature was characterised by the static exchange of information between users, and the websites that hosted information. Web 1.0 could only be understood by humans, requiring a ‘webmaster.’ Who was responsible for managing all website content and updating new users.
Web 2.0, also known as the ‘Read and Write Web,’ was the second iteration of the Web. It is what approximately 60% of the global population today utilises on a daily basis.  Web 2.0 led major revolutions in e-commerce, social networking and technology, through its dynamic and interactive web content. This version of the Web saw the birth of social media, online retailers, streaming websites, educational resources, & online personal finance platforms.
The latest generation of Web technology is Web 3.0 (Web 3), dubbed the ‘Data-Centric Web,’ or ‘Semantic Web.’ Its ultimate goal: ‘decentralise the web,’. This would grant users online independence, distancing them from centralised authorities such as ‘big tech’ companies and governments. Naturally, this ‘decentralisation’ extends into a range of applications & platforms, harnessing the permissionless & trust-less infrastructure associated with Web 3. Furthermore, Web 3 provides an avenue for data scientists & machine learning engineers to develop semantic web concepts, empowering the next generation of artificial intelligence. This next generation of AI is capable of learning, interpreting and interacting with content over the web in a similar way to which a human would.
But how can I access Web 3? Case Study on the Brave Browser
Accessing Web 3 has never been easier, with online browsers such as Brave and Metamask offering varied Web 3 integration through their advertising rewards scheme, and DApp infrastructure respectively.
Brave, being a large advocate for digital autonomy, features a range of Web 3 systems such as its InterPlanetary File System (IPFS) support, advertisement rewards ecosystem, and native ‘Brave’ crypto wallet that supports NFTs and DApps.*
These decentralised systems enhance the users’ browsing experience forming a positive feedback loop at a foundational level. As a direct result of its advertisement ecosystems: AdBlock, firewall & anti-tracking functions, Brave (a chromium-based browser) features 3x faster-browsing speeds than the traditional Chrome web browser.
True Peer to peer networking – IPFS
Brave features an inbuilt IPFS protocol allowing users to search for information on a content basis, leveraging all existing nodes in the distributed IPFS network for content delivery and dissemination. Users are effectively able to share files and content, free of censorship with increased availability, and speed compared to the traditional ‘centralised web.’
A ‘Content Hash’ is what is used to identify/download content over the IPFS, and is comprised of a content identifier (CID) and a uniform resource identifier (URI). 
An example of what this looks like: ipfs://QmXoypizjW3WknFiJnKLwHCnL72vedxjQkDDP1mXWo6uco/wiki/Aardvark.html
Additionally, IPFS’ allows for greater informational resilience, ensuring information is readily available with minimal to zero downtime. This is due to the distributed nature of IPFS servers, where users’ searches specify the content, not the location. Unlike the traditional Web2.0 where users’ searches are conducted using a uniform resource locator (URL), more often than not specifying a ‘big tech’ server address. These centralised servers are vulnerable to crashing & subsequent periods of extended downtime/maintenance.
Content creators and distributors also benefit from the usage of IPFS, with content hashes eliminating the issue of content duplication, simultaneously reducing server hardware storage costs and increasing network efficiency. Perhaps most importantly, content creators are now able to distribute their own content, without the need to be tied to a central content distributor.
IPFS = Smarter contracts?
While NFT tokens on a smart contract blockchain are indeed immutable and secure, their connected and sometimes unsecured metadata isn’t. This particular issue applies to NFT tokens that contain a URL referencing a particular asset such as a digital artwork/image. As the underlying asset located via the URL can be altered, migrated or lost altogether. IPFS solves this issue, allowing for the underlying tokenized metadata to be locked in place with a unique content hash that will only ever reference that asset.
Creative Digital Autonomy – (BAT)
Brave’s Basic Attention Token (BAT) is an ERC-20 compliant ‘Ad-tech’ token built upon Ethereum, and serves as the foundation of Brave’s rewards scheme. BAT is indicative of the value of a user’s time spent looking at online advertisements. The value of which would have otherwise been exploited and sold by ‘big tech’ companies and advertising agencies.
BAT’s value proposition, as outlined in its white paper can be broken down into three key areas:
- Grant users “strong privacy and security when viewing advertisements,” whilst improving their relevance and performance. 
- Deliver advertisers, a cost-effective means of gaining customer attention, whilst combating fraud and increasing conversion rates.
- Provide publishers and content creators with improved revenue, lessening the prevalence of fraud and allowing easier reporting
Users benefit from electing the amount of non-intrusive, privacy-respecting advertisements they view on an hourly basis, ranging from 0 to 10. For each ad viewed they are then rewarded with BAT tokens, which they can then hold as a store of value, transact / trade with, or tip their favourite content creators.
Advertising agencies also benefit from BAT, being able to finance their ad campaigns entirely through BAT they are able to ensure that 70% of the token amount goes to the end-user, and 30% to the publisher. Ensuring they reach the right target market, in a manner that ensures adequate and effective engagement. On another note, the issuance of BAT assists in the reduction of ad fraud, eliminating the prevalence of ad stacking & false clicks. The success of Brave’s private ad network is evident in the 3.3 thousand active ad campaigns across 187 countries, with partners such as Coinbase, Binance and The Guardian all participating.
However, users and advertisers aren’t the only beneficiaries of BAT, with creators & publishers also getting paid for sharing and creating great content. Creators can get paid for their content across a range of mediums including: online publications, websites, YouTube or even streaming on Twitch. Their income is driven by not only ad revenue, but also monthly user contributions and/or tips.
The cyclical nature of the BAT ecosystem corrects existing market failures present in traditional online advertising, ensuring adequate compensation to end-users, whilst also providing a safe and secure framework for advertisers and publishers to transact.
Looking forward, Web 3 evidently has the ability to drastically improve the user browsing experience. This presents a unique ownership opportunity for all users, by providing them with ownership of their own digital footprint, where users have the choice to share their information, and get adequately compensated for doing so. Or, the ownership of digital assets, such as NFTs, cryptocurrencies and metaverse land holdings alike.
Another interesting area of development for Web 3 is its potential to combat spam bots. This could be accomplished by background microtransactions, whereby every page a user views they pay a given token amount. In this case, the token value would be derived from the utility, the number of views or time spent on that webpage. These tokenised microtransactions would pose a major issue for spam bots and scammers alike, who would need large sums of money to continue their fraudulent activity. As a result, users could browse the web at faster speeds, increasing accessibility of exclusive online retail drops, and perhaps even cutting down on the amount of bots present in popular online games.
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