In Web3 (Harper Business, Sept.), investor Tapscott explores what the future of the internet might look like.

What is Web3?
Web1 describes the dot-com era, the first era of the commercial web. It was primarily a broadcast medium, a way to consume info digitally and democratize access to information. Web2 was the “read-write” web. Users could consume content, share their own information, and build communities online, but that all ended up in the hands of a few powerful platforms who used the data for their own profit. Web3 is “read-write-own,” a way for users to actually own digital assets, and that’s going to transform business and society in some profound ways.

Will Web3 change the way people earn money online?
Web3 makes it easier to own assets and to build wealth online. Lots of people globally have internet access but not a bank account; new tools give them a way to move and store value in U.S. dollars. In the world of decentralized finance, entrepreneurs are creating peer-to-peer models for trading assets, or lending pools, without the need for a traditional bank. For these platforms to be valuable, you must have people who are willing to use them, so some platforms have incentivized early users by offering tokens. The value of tokens is currently $3 billion, which accounts for over 20% of all global exchange volume. It’s taking a bite out of traditional corporations. Issuing tokens turns users into owners, a transformation that could also be applied to social networks and gaming.

How will Web3 change compensation for artists?
For most of human history, technology has been a tailwind for creators. In the Middle Ages, artists had to rely on patronage, but the invention of lithography made it possible for them to inexpensively mass produce and sell their work. Today, the internet has produced new problems—streaming music, for instance, has led to the rise of new intermediaries, such as YouTube and Spotify, that put distance between artists and users. Culture needs a new business model; if your art gets used for AI learning, you should be compensated.

What is the idea behind the concept of “sovereign identity”?
There’s a virtual you out there, and a virtual me out there, and the virtual me knows more about me than I know—what I’ve searched for, what I’ve posted, every interaction I’ve had online. I don’t own it, and I can’t control or monetize it. That data is owned by the companies I interact with, and maybe it ends up in the wrong hands. It’s the Faustian bargain we made: When Web2 came, we traded our time, attention, and data for the features, but now we don’t think it’s such a great idea. The idea has become that revenue from data should go to the users who generated it, perhaps via a token that will deposit a U.S. dollar–stable coin into a wallet attached to your bank.