Although the various technologies that make up what’s been dubbed “Web 3” are unlikely to replace the massive infrastructure and software investments we’ve made during the past three decades, there’s still something interesting there. The first question we need to ask is, what problems can they solve?
Web 3 proponents suggest that at heart, it’s a massive set of consumer technologies that can replace the web’s transactional foundations. I think of it as a more limited tool, one that’s able to build on blockchain technologies to support a subset of enterprise applications with a focus on electronic data interchange (EDI). That’s because once you strip back the blockchain to its essence, it’s an immutable data structure that can be shared between untrusted partners in a trusted manner. That makes it useful in supply chains where electronic documents have a contractual and legal basis that’s enshrined in international treaties and where one end of the supply chain has only an indirect relationship with the other.