Rewebbing the Net

Will Web3 reinvent the Internet business?

In parts, yes. But probably not as sweepingly as its boosters reckon

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Like seemingly everyone these days, Mr Moxie Marlinspike has created a non-fungible token (NFT). These digital chits use clever cryptography to prove, without the need for a central authenticator, that a buyer owns a unique piece of digital property. Alongside cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, NFTs are the most visible instantiation of "Web3" - an idea whose advocates and their venture-capital (VC) backers hail as a better, more decentralised version of the Internet, built atop distributed ledgers known as blockchains.

Digital artists, celebrities and even the occasional newspaper have issued and sold them to collectors, often for hefty sums (the immaterial version of The Economist's cover image fetched over US$400,000 or S$537,000).

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 26, 2022, with the headline Will Web3 reinvent the Internet business?. Subscribe