Publishing is one of the oldest industries in the world but could face its biggest disruption in recent years with the advent of Web 3.0 and the next step in the evolution of the internet.

The largest changes to publishing in the last 500 years primarily involve the transition from paper to screen and the ability to publish on the internet, offering access to a much wider audience than before.

The arrival of Web 3.0 promises a new era of publishing with many of the problems associated with the industry, such as clickbait or centralization around a few large publishing/media companies, being fixed by Web 3.0 tech and leading to arguably the biggest disruption to the publishing industry for decades.

As the digital world becomes a more important part of everyday life and power returns to individuals rather than corporations, the need for a way to incentivize these individuals to produce high quality content in the world of Web 3.0 grows.

Pay-Per-Article

In the reading world, the transition from paper to e-reader has been a lot slower than many predicted when the first Amazon Kindle was released in 2007, the payments  for online publications hasn’t changed much either. As was the case 40 years ago, most users still pay a subscription to access a publication but with the advent of Web 3.0 and DeFi, this area is ripe for disruption.

Having a crypto wallet directly connected to a user’s browser opens up the option of allowing that user to pay only for articles they read. Rather than paying $20 a month for a subscription, a user could pay the equivalent of $0.05 (currently 0.0036 Eth) for each article they read directly from a wallet once they click on the link or scroll past a certain point on the page. Meaning the user pays only for what they read rather than paying for everything on the site despite reading only 2-3 articles a month.

Tech like this would also allow the writer to be paid as soon as a metric (i.e. – a user reading 50% of an article) is met. This has the added advantage of disincentivizing clickbait as a significant portion of the article would have to be read before the writer is paid rather than just a click on a headline.

Data collection

Data collection within the publishing industry will also be upended. The first steps in the changing of the way data is collected can already be seen with Google’s removal of cookies, due to be completed by the end of 2024.

Some companies are already in the process of transitioning away from them, knowing how unpopular they are with users and some regulators. Web 3.0 will put users firmly in charge of their own data, allowing them to be paid for data they provide and with 79% of users saying they’re concerned about how companies use the data they collect on them, it seems that this change is well overdue.

A few start-ups are already trying to empower users by giving them control over their data with Streamlytics being one. They say their technology can “help users reclaim ownership of their own data and give them a chance to monetize it”. Users can choose to upload their data to the company’s own consumer application, Clture,  which processes and formats it. Streamlytics then sells the data to other companies to work with. The company is also thinking of adding an option for users to allow their data to be used only by specific companies.

One of their most interesting products allows users to connect data from the world of Web 2.0 to NFTs which can then be used in the Metaverse. Account data from Netflix, Spotify, Prime, etc could be transferred into Web 3.0 communities and avatars could be customized based on the user’s preferences and activities in the world of Web 2.0.

At the moment Streamlytics only has a patent pending for the technology behind this (Universal Data Interchange Format standard) but something like this will likely be created in the future to help transition the world from the centralized Web 2.0 to  the decentralized Web 3.0.

Transparency

A publicly verifiable blockchain may also increase the public’s trust in advertising companies by making any claims available for scrutiny. For example, a health company claiming their product reduces the symptoms of a disease by 50% could have the study and its results available on the blockchain for the public to view for themselves and see how the study was carried out. A QR code could even be placed in the advert as a link, making the study data and information on the blockchain easily available for all to view.

Half of academic publishing is now controlled by just 5 companies so decentralizing the data and making it and explanations as to how it was collected available for public scrutiny would help increase trust in academic institutions.

Wrapping Up

Decentralization is one of the defining features of Web 3.0 and with this will come the transition of power from the larger publishing companies to the content creators and authors themselves.

In the world of Web 3.0 people could read virtual books in the Metaverse whilst lying on a tropical beach, money will be sent from their wallet directly to the writer’s each time they finish reading a page of an article. Clickbait headlines will be virtually non-existent and trust in advertising will be at an all time high.

This may be a rose-tinted view of the future but Web 3.0 will change publishing forever and put power back in the hands of the creators rather than the publishers.