In the last few years, it’s been close to impossible to escape discussions surrounding the next evolution of the internet as we currently know it. Web3, NFT, and cryptocurrency have long escaped the realm of buzzwords on tech forums and have now entered mainstream discussions. Today, you can find NFT artists sitting down for late night talk show chats and top tech billionaires such as Mark Zuckerberg transitioning the future of their companies in preparation to lead the charge into Web3. The hype has broken into our mainstream conversations, major tech players have started to prepare, and the shift in online culture is apparent as many of us lean into what’s right around the curve for our digital lives.
As exciting (or confusing) this may come across for you, there has been a very firm dividing stake separating many online communities surrounding the legitimacy of what is to come. With things like news headlines surrounding cryptocurrency regulations (or lack thereof) and the word “gimmick” being so openly thrown around when speaking about this next generational online technology, a number of people would rather stray away from this potential internet turning point out of pure hesitation.
With major signs pointing to this long-term change revving up to take place in our near future online, there is still an obvious issue at play – most of it isn’t here yet. In this blog post, we want to breakdown what these trendy words actually mean, why it matters, and then speak with Web3, crypto, and NFT expert Kelly Ann Collins to explain this turning point in her own words.
The Buzz Surrounding the Future: What is Web3, Cryptocurrency, and NFT?
What is Web3?
Since the creation of the World Wide Web in 1989, the internet has gone through transformational eras. These eras are defined by three main turning points simply named: Web 1.0, Web 2.0, and now the anticipated Web 3.0.
Web 1.0 was what the online experience was in the formative years. This starting version is mostly referred to the “read-only” era of the internet spanning roughly between 1990 and 2004. Web 1.0 was primarily filled with static page websites with little to no interaction between user and company.
Web 2.0 is the period of time online that is most familiar because it’s the web version we are currently experiencing. The largest shift between Web 1.0 and Web 2.0 is going from the limited “read-only” to the now standard of “read-write.” Basically, this means we have moved from companies producing website content primarily to companies creating entire platforms to have users create their own content. The biggest shift that caused this evolution was the introduction and popularity of social media websites such as Facebook and video hosting websites such as YouTube.
Which leads us to Web 3.0, known as the “read-write-own” era. Web3 is very closely aligned with the popularity of cryptocurrency and the blockchain technology that it runs on. With Web 3.0, users are no longer constrained to rely on large companies to provide a platform or service and instead are given full ownership of the online landscape allowing the internet to become decentralized for all. This breakaway from large companies gives long-term relevance to cryptocurrencies acting as the native payment system in order to move away from bank and third-party payment platforms.
Web3 has the main focus of putting power back into the hands of its users. This hopeful adjustment will allow freedom online unlike anything we’ve experienced in past iterations of the internet to date.
What is Cryptocurrency?
In recent times, it’s hard to go very long without coming across the word “crypto.” From regular segments on nightly news programs to the World’s richest man (at the time of this blog post,) Tesla and SpaceX tech giant Elon Musk, doing entire skits on the topic while hosting NBC’s Saturday Night Live – it’s safe to assume the average person is now aware of the basics behind the concept.
Simply put, cryptocurrency is a digital currency. The most notable difference between using crypto such as Bitcoin and a Venmo digital transaction linked to your credit card, for example, is the introduction to encryption and decentralization automatically attached to the cryptocurrency. These two things are what makes the entire idea so appealing and a natural companion to such a massive step forward alongside Web3.
With a decentralized currency, it means that banks are not managing the value or transactions whatsoever. Leaving the door wide open to allow users to be in full control with little to no “middle-man.” A stock-like system is attached to each cryptocurrency that determines the value of it each day. As some see this as an investment opportunity, others use it as their main form of online payments.
The blockchain is the backend of this process dealing with each crypto transaction. Blockchain records each account purchase, sell, and trade. It logs every movement your wallet makes to keep a clear and accurate history for you to keep a record of. Think of this as your digital crypto checkbook.
What are NFTs?
Out of the three main terms being discussed, NFTs are the newest online phenomenon to captivate tech fans and the online art space.
NFT, or non-fungible token, allows the average person to become the sole owner of a digital piece of art from one of their favorite creators. The days of billionaires chasing after original Michelangelo paintings may be a thing of the past. Now high-status names such as Mark Cuban, Justin Bieber, Tom Brady, and more are joining things such as the Bored Ape Yacht Club for a slice of high priced exclusive NFTs.
Pieces of digital art can be sold and purchased between users with a range of intentions. For this new wave of digital artists, this marketplace has created unexpected livelihoods for talented creators. For buyers, it allows them to see each piece as a potential investment waiting for the perfect time to resell or to hold onto as a way to flex among their followers.
Even though NFTs have only been in the spotlight for a short time, creators and companies are evolving the concept to its next level by offering attached perks. Companies such as Starbucks are jumping on this trend recently revealing they will introduce their own NFTs with special access to “Starbucks-related experiences and perks.” These added benefits to buyers may be a clear marketing push in some cases, but to others, NFTs are the answer to getting closer to their favorite brands, artists, and companies in a modern unique way.
Why Web3, Cryptocurrency, and NFTs Matter
So now that you have a better understanding of what this all means, let’s take a step back and ask an important question you may still have – Why does any of this matter?
This next potential step forward in our lives online is more than an exciting new piece to our every day for some. Users having the ability to have complete control allows a clear breakaway from a higher organizational structure being present online. Raising the realm of possibility in what we consume, create, and enjoy more freely. With technology such as cryptocurrency and NFTs, we are getting a glimpse into the groundwork being laid for what our very near future may look like.
The Future of Us Online According to Web3, Crypto, and NFT Expert Kelly Ann Collins
Kelly Ann Collins has quickly become one of the leading voices online in the Web3 corner for her expert opinions and forward-looking company endeavors. She is the founder and CEO of Vult Lab, host of “The Show”, Co-founder and Editor-In-Chief at Into the Meta News, Co-founder of HomeCon, and is widely considered an influential leader in modern day tech throughout a handful of additional projects and companies she is involved in. In 2021, Kelly made the Inc. Top 100 Female Founders list as a result of her leadership and action during the recent pandemic.
We interviewed Kelly for this blog post so she could give us her expert insight into this next generation of life online.
Kelly Ann Collins Interview:
devCodeCamp: In your expert opinion, do you believe we are currently laying the groundwork for how future generations will experience the internet with Web3, NFTs, and crypto leading the progression?
Collins: Right now, the world is changing. It’s becoming more immersive, and intelligent. Soon, the way we socialize, transact business, and manage personal finances and assets will soon never be the same. It’s an exciting time to be alive as we make the transition from Web2 to Web3.
devCodeCamp: What do you believe the biggest shift will be in internet culture once we’ve fully progressed past our current stage?
Collins: From CVS, Walmart and JP Morgan, to Paris Hilton, Lady Gaga and Snoop Dogg, brands, companies and well-known personalities are doubling down on the user-driven social features that made Web 2.0 so successful as they hop into more engaging worlds and 3-D experiences that will impact — and change — life as we know it. Once we have fully progressed past the current stage, 3-D and AR shopping will be a way of life. Biomedical wearables will be mainstream, and visiting the doctor without leaving your house will be standard. Eventually, I believe mixed reality will become the norm.
devCodeCamp: Social media giants started to become household names in the early to mid 2000’s. Not only was it new and fun, but it showed the world how much we crave community and interaction online as a whole. Do you think we only saw a glimpse of what community building and online social interactions will look like in the near Web3 future or do you think it will be more of the same?
Collins: The Metaverse is a whole new, exciting layer that will integrate with social media platforms. Right now, most of the world has watch parties – where attendees watch a concert or premiere on their computer, together, with chatting being the main way to connect. Imagine attending an event in a virtual space with those people, and watching the event while talking to each other and dancing. You can do that now; all you have to do is hop into Decentraland. Soon, the rest of the world will see this new phase of the internet and social media – and they’ll finally get it. They’ll be hooked. Television and web premieres are so 2007. Live events that people can enjoy together are the future.
devCodeCamp: Vult Lab messaging online revolves around one main word: “Change.” When it comes to hot topics such as NFTs and cryptocurrency, there seems to be two main groups of people in the conversation — One group completely determined it’s the future. One group on the fence and have a worry of it all being a phase that will blow by. With Vult Lab and yourself being notable leaders in the space with such a focus on the bigger picture of it all, do you feel it’s almost a social responsibility at this point in our lives online to better understanding these topics and how the near future will directly benefit from it?
Collins: I feel like it is my personal duty to help people navigate this new frontier. That is why we are now consulting brands on how to do this via Vult Lab. That is why I launched one of the first-ever Metaverse news agencies, and it is also why I launched The Show – an online event that dives into these new, innovative topics.
Vult Lab launched because I saw a need to help organizations fully jump into Web2 from Web1. We did that successfully, and we are doing it again with Web3. I believe we need to help onboard as many people, especially people and orgs who work to help the underserved. I don’t want to see anyone left behind.
I was just starting my career in Web2 – for Web3, though, I am ready. I am here to lead those through the chaos. I want to help as many people as possible to succeed.
devCodeCamp: From a high-level, what do you see being the best possible outcome in a world fully accepting and fully using Web3, NFTs, and cryptocurrency?
Collins: As we move into Web 3.0, the way information is shared and delivered will change. The way companies’ market will change. The way we do business will change. The way we socialize will change. But change is not bad. Ultimately, the Metaverse will bring us closer together. Work and collaboration will become more immersive: think 3-D meetings vs. normal Zoom meetings.
It’s a very exciting time. People who wouldn’t normally be able to travel, due to financial, time or physical restrictions, will be able to dive into 360-degree, immersive experiences in exotic locations. Meanwhile, brands will take advantage of NFT utilities that will make doing business easier – from community membership to event ticketing.
But it will not stop there: the possibilities are endless. Since an NFT can represent basically any legal document, NFTs will be used as birth certificates, citizenship records, digital identities, land deeds, and more. This will be a gamechanger for low- and middle-income countries struggling to develop and maintain their own systems for storing and sharing this information.
The Metaverse will also create an entirely new job market. In the “real world,” right now, just to name a few, we need NFT strategists, smart contract developers, ecosystem developers and planners, and cybersecurity experts. As it grows, the Metaverse will need roles filled to keep up with the demand: architects, interior designers, event planners, real estate professionals, wearable designers, retail sales representatives, and even DJs. Careers in the Metaverse will be the next big thing.
With so many exciting peeks into what a brighter future online for us all may look like, it’s easy to understand why so much buzz is surrounding the topic. But with still a large number of people approaching such a drastic change with hesitation, only time will tell what the true outcome will be. Is this a true peek into what our future may be? Will this change the world as we know it? Is this all a gimmick wrapped in an exciting presentation? We simply just don’t have the answers for that right now. But with giant tech companies hoping on board, culturally iconic names supporting projects, and Web3, cryptocurrency, and NFT evolving more and more — this potential jump forward online may be closer than we think.
Thank you again Kelly Ann Collins for taking time to answer the questions we had for her to contribute to this topic and blog post.