In late 2021, the term Web3 began to increasingly appear in mainstream media outlets. This does not refer, however, to a sudden increase in interest in the Semantic Web as defined by Tim Berners-Lee, but rather to something entirely different. Enthusiasts of cryptocurrencies and nonfungible tokens (NFTs) seized this term and changed its meaning to reflect a supposed new stage of the Web, running on top of blockchains and having decentralization as its core value.
To summarize the narrative being spun, the first generation of the Web afforded independence to the owners of websites, but this did not extend to the average user; Web 2.0 brought with it the ability for users to generate content, at the expense of the centralization of services on a few platforms; Web3 would marry both freedom and user participation, cutting large technology companies out of the loop and giving decision-making power and ownership rights to users.
How this would take place is unclear, although distributed apps (dapps) running on top of different blockchains seem to be the main proposed avenue. It is important to note that most conversations taking place at the moment are being carried out around abstract ideas and vague premises, so by elimination, these applications are the most tangible resource available for research.
Dapps can be coded in any language at the frontend level, but their key difference is that at the backend level, they operate in a peer-to-peer fashion by…