In my last post, I gave a quick overview of what web 3 is, and provided a quick tour of some notable web 3 destinations. Now we will take the next step and browse web 3 with a wallet. Specifically, we will install the Brave web browser, and then install and configure the MetaMask extension. Don't worry, you won't have to give up any personal information, nor will you put any money into it! you could receive money into it from someone else, and it will verify your identity and link your web browser to web 3 sites that support it. If you like, you can fund it later after you DYOR! (do your own research)
Once we get Brave and Metamask setup, I will show you how to see your new identity on the Ethereum Blockchain, and then we will check out a really cool web 3 site called Decentraland (a subgraph project in The Graph - GRT ecosystem). Prepare to have your mind blown that something like this even exists! It is a virtual world where you can interact with other web 3 netizens in real time, hang out in virtual real estate, view artwork that is for sale as NFTs (non-fungible tokens), or maybe play some games. Watch out, a party might even break out while you are visiting!
What is Brave?
Brave is arguably the ubiquitous web 3 browser. It is open source software, and if you are a Chrome user it will feel somewhat familiar since it is based on Chromium. Many feel that it has the best privacy features of any mainstream browser. It allows easy anonymous browsing via Tor, and it's 'Shields' protects you from tracking as you browse the web. I get tickled when Brave notifies me that it blocked a request to my device's gyroscope sensor (because the site tracking me wants to know if I'm moving or sitting still... creepy.)
Brave is free to use. In fact you can even earn money through the Brave Rewards program just by browsing and optionally by viewing advertisements. The payments come in the form of a cryptocurrency called Basic Attention Tokens (BAT). Brave also has it's own wallet, Uphold which you can use to store or convert your BAT into other cryptocurrencies, or fiat money.
You can setup Brave Rewards and Uphold another time if you like. For the sake of brevity, we will skip it for now, as Uphold requires you to provide personal and payment information. Or don't ever set it up-- it's completely optional.
If you haven't already done so, go ahead and download Brave and install it. You can grab it from the download link on their main page. Just take all of the default options. Once Brave is installed, it will display a page asking you if you'd like to import bookmarks and other settings from another browser. Go ahead and do this if you like. It also sets up your default browser. For now I recommend you just choose DuckDuckGo, you can change it to presearch.com later if you like. For now, don't set up the Brave Rewards. There, all done! Welcome to Brave.
What is Metamask? What is a Wallet?
Metamask is a web browser extension that creates a cryptocurrency wallet for you, and then can link that wallet to web 3 sites that support it. This linkage replaces the username/password logins of web 2 on web 3 sites that support it. If and when you fund the wallet, you can easily make transactions on the Etherium BlockChain with it. My personal advice is not to store large sums of money in Metamask, because there are more secure options. Think of it literally as your physical wallet / money clip / billfold... you put your "carrying around" money in it, but most of your money is in your checking and savings account (or maybe under your mattress?)
Let's install Metamask
To install the MetaMask extension in Brave, navigate to the hamburger menu in the upper-right corner, then choose 'Extensions':
Next, on the page that appears, click on the orange text "Web Store":
Search for 'metamask' in the chrome web store:
Click on the MetaMask "fox" icon which should be at the top of the search results. Then click the Add to brave button, then allow brave to install the extension when prompted.
Yay! the MetaMask extension is installed! Now follow the prompts to get set up. This is quite straightforward, but please note that it is very important to record your password and the secret backup phrase to a safe place. Don't stress too much about this right now-- you never even have to fund this wallet, and can create another one in the future if you like. Once Metamask confirms your secret backup phrase, your wallet will be created. You can just skip the last step about funding. Congratulations, you are now a verifiable identity on the Ethereum Blockchain! This ID can be seen here on the Metamask UI (the 0x0284...8811 number):
One last thing, I recommend you pin the Metamask extension so that it's easy to access, otherwise Brave will hide it:
OK, we are almost ready to hop onto that web 3.0 virtual world, Decentraland. But first one more info nugget...
I want to take a minute to tell you about Etherscan. This is a great tool for analyzing the Etherium blockchain in real time. Let's copy that ID out of Metamask:
then paste it into Etherscan search:
Yes, we do in fact exist in the Ethereum blockchain. If we give this address to someone else, they can send cryptocurrency to us!
OK after all that work, time to have some fun. Open brave and go to decentraland.org. Click the big "Get Started", button, and then the big "Play" button. At this point, Decentraland will request to be linked to Metamask to confirm your identity (which replaces logging in):
Allow it to Connect:
and finally Sign:
Congratulations! Your identity is confirmed and you can enter the world of Decentraland! I think at this point, I should let the experience speak for itself. Create an avatar, have fun exploring the world of virtual real estate and NFTs, and don't stress! Feel free to reply to this post with any comments or questions, I'll check back in!
Strong passwords and good security are important for web 2, but even more so for web 3, so my next blogpost will be about Password Managers. I highly recommend you design and implement a good password (and private/public key) management plan before you go any further into the decentralized world.
Until then I wish you the best, from my homestead to yours!