Why Nobody Really Uses Web3… Yet?
Web3 represents a fundamental evolution of the Internet as we know it today, replacing centralized gatekeepers and intermediaries with decentralized protocols and community-retained ownership. The properties inherent to Web3 are highly attractive to crypto-natives who live and breathe crypto. However, we must also acknowledge the following point:
Web3 is still a niche industry that has not reached mainstream adoption.
While the underlying technology backing Web3 is very real, there is a reason why your grandma is probably not yet an active Web3 user. And while limitations around blockchain scalability are most often cited for the lack of adoption—usually with a reminder of just how early we truly are—I believe that’s only one of a number of reasons why Web3 is not on the mind of the average consumer.
In this blog post, I’ll provide my own perspective around the six major reasons why Web3 has not yet reached mainstream adoption and what can be done to realize this technology’s true benefits for society.
1. Esoteric Techno-Babble
Web3 can be a difficult concept to explain to newcomers, particularly because there is no universal definition. Everyone has their own interpretation of its most valuable properties. This inevitably leads to questions such as: “Why should I care about Web3?” and “How can Web3 benefit me in my daily life?”
Various properties of Web3 are commonly mentioned—decentralization, censorship resistance, immutability, transparency, etc. Such explanations often include overly technical breakdowns of Web3 infrastructure, littered with industry jargon and techno-babble.
making Web 2.0 hard to understand@Airbnb is a centralized marketplace allowing owners of non-fungible physical spaces to fractionalize and sell time-bound access to buyers whose transactions are enabled with credit cards and priced in fungible currencies (USD or native).
— Patrick Workman (@PatrickWorkman) November 7, 2022
Although such explanations can be useful in understanding the core values of Web3 and its underlying technical implementation details, these are all simply a means to an end. The real question that must be answered is: How can these esoteric concepts and intangible values ultimately translate into Web3 applications that the average consumer can understand and is interested in engaging with?
Naturally, to answer such a question, one must be able to point to clear real-world use cases.
When discussing the roadblocks facing Web3, one must also address the elephant in the room: A lack of clear legal frameworks and guidance regarding crypto-assets, decentralized applications, and decentralized organizations is limiting the ability of Web3 to reach global scale. As with any new technology that radically disrupts existing industries, growing pains are inevitable, but not everything can be completely solved solely by technical means.
Without clear legal frameworks or policy guidelines, traditional institutions and organizations do not have the clarity they are used to and desire in order to feel comfortable engaging with and deploying resources into the Web3 ecosystem. Once such frameworks and guidelines are in place—achieved via industry collaboration to avoid stifling innovation—it’s far more likely that institutions and organizations will really begin their plunge into Web3 as service providers or Web3 gateways for their existing client bases.
To be clear, I am not advocating for any particular legal framework or policy guideline, but rather acknowledging the reality that Web3 mass adoption is largely tied to clear and reasonable guidance being in place. What form this will take is dependent on a large number of variables. Stifling innovation is not a viable or positive outcome for the Web3 ecosystem, but Web3 being perceived as a “wild west” environment is not conducive for long-term growth either.
Web3 represents a paradigm shift in the trust properties of applications, shifting power away from centralized intermediaries and towards deterministic and transparent software. But as with any innovative new technology, there are various roadblocks that must first be overcome before global adoption can be achieved. While there are many more bottlenecks facing mass Web3 adoption than was laid out in this blog, by addressing these aforementioned challenges head-on, Web3 will be better positioned than ever to scale its benefits across many aspects of society.