The technology of data, networks, and 3D visuals have developed so much in the past decade that many people and companies are now in the early stages of building the next generation of web experience. They call it Web3, in contrast to the current internet experience (Web 2.0). It’s still too early to pinpoint what that experience might bring, but many are hoping for a more decentralized experience where users have more ownership over their digital assets and the data they generate. 

Three tech entrepreneurs in the Web3 space discuss the core differences between Web3 and our current internet experience at a panel discussion that took place on Sept. 26 at the Beyond Expo 2022 tech conference, held online at BEYOND Metaverse. They are Wilson Wei, founder and CEO of social graph protocol CyberConnect; Eric Liu, founder and CEO of digital clothing design software company Style3D; and Suji Yan, founder and CEO of Mask Network, a portal that allows users to use decentralized applications on traditional social media platforms. 

The text below has been condensed and edited for clarity.

Wilson Wei, founder and CEO of CyberConnect (bottom left). Eric Liu, founder and CEO of Style3D (bottom right). Suji Yan, founder and CEO of Mask Network (top right). Managing Editor at RADII (top left and moderator). Credit: BEYOND Expo

Wilson Wei, founder and CEO of CyberConnect

We have no asset ownership on the internet during the Web 2.0 era, and thanks to blockchain technology, now we do [in Web3]. For the first time, users will be able to own their own stuff completely decentralized, without any kind of centralized party granting them the right to own any assets. That’s why we’re building the social protocol to give data, especially important data like social graph data, back in the hands of users. 

In the Web 2.0 era, there is a lot of important social data. For example, you know how Facebook login was so powerful back in when they opened up the API, and in China, WeChat login is super powerful. For users, when you login into different scenarios and sometimes you’re allowed to port your social graph to the other app, but sometimes not. A lot of people don’t actually know why. The reason is that you don’t own that data at all. 

Centralized platforms, on which you spend years building your social graph, own all the data you created on their platforms. And that’s a problem. 

For content creators, like any YouTubers who spend years building up their livelihood on YouTube, they have absolutely no bargaining power against the platform because they own zero data, and they have no option to easily migrate to any other platform. If they try to create another account on any other new media platform, they’ll have to bootstrap all over again. That’s a huge problem for social status mobility or social capital mobility, and it wasn’t possible before on Web 2.0 because the infrastructure is purely centralized.

I think owning your social status is the key thing, and also, we’ll have to build the infrastructure to enable users to build their status in a way that they own it. And that’s what I think, other than crypto assets, is the most important thing that’s different from Web 2.0 to Web3.

Eric Liu, founder and CEO of Style3D

We are in the fashion business, and before it was a physical fashion business, now it’s a digital fashion business. 

The copyright of digital assets in fashion will be much easier than Web2. All the decentralization can generate copyright-based digital content at a low cost, make it more convenient, create more convenient transactions, and bring in more profit.

In the physical world, we are mostly using computers to solve pain points. For example, we provide our core products, such as 3D digital product software and digital asset management platform and online collaboration platform and others. But in the virtual world, what we can provide is the 3D virtual cloth and fashion infrastructures, such as the technology and application of 3D design and modeling and 3D digital content itself. 

We are trying to connect the physical world and digital world through digital twins technology, and we hope that whether it is the digitalization of the physical world or rendering of the 3D world, we are going to be the provider of underlining technology and content as long as you want to create something in fashion.

Suji Yan, founder and CEO of Mask Network

The decentralized social network is like the public forum of ancient Rome. This is Web3 Rome and in every aspect, Web 2.0 and the current ecosystem we live in have failed us at some point, and it’s not improved in the last 10 years since the mobile internet came to life. So I think that’s something we are going to change. 

Decentralization is rebuilding the social consensus. I think that in the next 20 years, a new kind of social consensus will be formed during this crypto war against the community of regulators. And we’re going to have new laws established during these DAOs (decentralized autonomous organizations), during the inception of these DAOs. 

You don’t want a single point of failure, which could happen at any point and get your asset stolen or just vanish. Decentralization could help with that. It also means the consensus comes from the community, the crowd, a decentralized, non-biased decision group of decision-makers, or from machines. That kind of trust level is what decentralization could provide that a centralized party could never provide.

Even if [a centralized party] is a great company. It’s a great product. It’s a great team, you know, companies like Google, it’s a great brand. They said ‘don’t do evil,’ but it’s always don’t do evil. It’s not like you cannot do evil. Decentralization cannot do evil and cannot be evil. You don’t have to trust anybody; you just trust the coding, the virtual machine, the blockchain, and that will promote so much more productivity when we collaborate from all aspects because of trust.