To succeed, Web3 must become human-centered

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The current digital world is filled with innovations that are human-centered and enable a smooth experience for users globally. Through universal symbols, universal layouts, translation tools and the more recent biometric scanners, Web2 is aiming to augment personalization and customization within its virtual world. This bodes well as the global landscape is changing rapidly to incorporate modern technology and digitization into its daily transactions. 

But this is also where Web2’s inherent framework of centralized control and restricted user autonomy exposes the hypocrisy in its foundational principles. For example, in 2019, the fingerprints, facial recognition information, unencrypted usernames and passwords, and personal information of over 1 million employees of Suprema, a security company, was discovered on a publicly accessible database due to vulnerabilities in their web-based Biostar 2 biometrics lock system that was centrally controlled. Today, almost every smartphone has the user’s fingerprint, facial recognition, voice or retina scan information stored. While external threats are difficult to detect, having personal data stored within a centralized server could make it susceptible to data breaches, fraud, data theft and more. As the world becomes technologically advanced, so do hackers and scammers. 

Enter the decentralized alternative. With blockchain, there are solutions to these risks and challenges. As a distributed ledger technology, the blockchain has no single point of failure. Additionally, the data is immutable and all transactions recorded on the blockchain are open and transparent. Another key feature of blockchain technology is the protection of digital identity. Through cryptography and encryption, users’ true identities are secure, and digital avatars are anonymous. 

From blockchain, the Web3 ecosystem has emerged as a functioning, modern world parallel to the Web2 sector. With a cumulative market capitalization of more than US$27.5 billion, the Web3 ecosystem has established itself as a leading technology industry focused on transforming global systems. Yet, while it steadily moves towards mainstream adoption, there are several barriers it has to overcome to include a smooth, user-centric and personalized experience. 

Personalizing the Web3 sector will ensure user adoption to reach new heights while also presenting an immune digital world that aims to reduce data breaches, thefts and scams, to a new low. With enhanced privacy offered by Web3, users will have digital privacy, greater control over their personal data and fewer risks. Additionally, users will be able to protect their data from being shared without their consent and will be able to control the extent of data sharing and usage by third parties. There is no central server with all data collected at one place within the space, thus, representing a sense of security and data protection for the Web3 community. Apart from that, the Web3 sector is built on openness, interoperability, networking and security. While these features should be incentive enough for outsiders, introducing personalization in diverse forms will increase awareness and curiosity for more users to enter.

Pillars of humanization 

There are certain key aspects of humanizing the current Web3 technology that can create a harmonious experience and smooth the transition from Web2 to Web3. They include:

1. User design: One of the chief steps in enabling personalized experiences includes having a simple user-centered website, application or project layout. Having easily navigable platforms and keeping the integrations quick and smooth are a few ways to ensure user onboarding. Additionally, interoperability between different applications, devices and websites, might hasten the process further as Web3 users have several assets and digital identities across different blockchains. 

2. Data ownership and security: As transparency is the bedrock of Web3, having complete data ownership and control should be a primary focus on any Web3 platform. Users should have the autonomy on the extent of their data being accessed, shared or monetized, and they should authorize all interactions pertaining to their personal information. Additionally, details of these data-centric interactions should be conveyed to the user in legible terms without unnecessary jargon or confusing language. 

3. Fostering user trust: Auditable transactions and smart contracts along with open governance mechanisms should be present and implemented to solidify user trust and platform credibility. The community should participate in all network-altering decisions and secure interoperability between different networks and protocols should be established. Quick and secure interoperability could be a boon for metaverses as new digital worlds are developing rapidly with new assets acquired by users across each platform. 

4. Web3 hardware: We have seen some innovations in this department, but this is still an untapped market due to factors including software requirements, Web3 talent, lack of regulations, manufacturing, logistics and more. But this vision does not seem far from reality given the high number of Web3 enthusiasts and the passion for creative thinking and innovating within the community. The challenging feat in this case would be ensuring that the gap between Web2 and Web3 worlds is not expanded further where only a select few Web3 folks are able to utilize, access or navigate Web3 hardware products such as Web3 smartphones.  

Challenges hindering this shift 

Personalization of the Web3 community is dependent on stimulating two key verticals — user privacy and transparency. The initial Web3 world was built keeping user autonomy at the forefront but there are multiple other facets that need to be smoothed out now that the industry is expanding and steadily welcoming more users into its fold with the promise of onboarding further. Scalability is one of the highly pertinent problems of the Web3 sector followed by a plethora of separate blockchains that are focused on hosting specific applications and projects. As the network expands, problems such as congestion, high gas fees and slower transaction speeds can plague user experience. And as Web3 metaverses increase in their user numbers and various compute-heavy offerings, ecosystems that can manage that high-level scalability will become the need of the hour. 

Toward a more humanized Web3 

On a brighter note, there are solutions rising up that have the capabilities to combat the pain points of Web3 and humanize Web3. With increasingly advanced tech infrastructure and novel coding processes, much work is underway to transform Web3 into a more personalized sector in a simple, secure, sustainable and scalable manner.