Web3 (also known as Web 3.0) is the third generation of the Internet and it represents the forthcoming transition from Web 2.0 toward a much more decentralized Internet. This is the result of the advancement of blockchain technology and other distributed ledger technologies and suspicions surrounding the control big tech has had with Web 1.0 and Web 2.0. These technologies are lowering the level of trust, transparency, and security on the Internet.
The goal of Web3 is to create a more inclusive and accessible internet for everyone, and whilst Web3 is still in its early stages, there are already a number of projects working on making it a reality.
What is the Difference Between Web 1.0, Web 2.0 and Web 3.0?
The internet has undergone three major evolutions since it was first created in the early 1990s. Web 1.0 was the first iteration of the internet and it was mostly used for static content like articles and basic information. Web 2.0 emerged in the early 2000s and it allowed for dynamic content like social media and blogs. Web 3.0 is the latest evolution of the internet and it focuses on personalization, data mining, and artificial intelligence.
What is Web 1.0?
If we go right back to the beginning, the Internet began with what is now known as Web 1.0 in 1990. You might recognise this name, but the early pioneer was Tim Berners-Lee when he was a researcher at CERN. He wrote the 3 fundamental technologies which became the foundations of the Internet:
- HTML (Hypertext mark-up language)
- URL (uniform resource locator)
- HTTP (hypertext transfer protocol)
Of course, this included the first web page ever created an Internet browser. As the ’90s progressed and we saw services such as AOL (America Online Launch) and the browser Netscape, the first static websites began to emerge which were retrieved from remote servers. Email began to emerge as a communication tool and really, the Internet was just a novel experience as there was no place for interactive computing or access to the cloud as we know it today. Remote working and working from home was still science fiction at this stage but online banking and trading actually began to become quite popular.
What is Web 2.0?
Web2 is the second generation of the World Wide Web, referring to software applications that enable users to interact with and collaborate with each other. Smartphones and mobile internet access along with social networking have been the key drivers and growth behind Web 2. It began to emerge in 2004 after Google floated with their initial public offering (IPO) and the arrival of Facebook (now Meta).
In essence, Web2 is the result of the changing nature in which the Internet is used. Static websites of the early to late ’90s have all been replaced by interactive, content-hungry, social media connectivity. Things happen quickly. Web2 has made it possible for content to be viewed from anywhere in the world.
Without Web2, we’d never have known Uber, Spotify, Twitter, TikTok, Airbnb, Zoom, Facebook, WhatsApp and YouTube for example. It’s also made companies such as Apple, Google, Amazon, Meta and Netflix incredibly wealthy. It’s also enabled us to work from home when the world faced a global pandemic.
Web2 has been incredibly disruptive in good and bad ways to people’s lives. Businesses that failed to adapt have gone or faced huge decline (think Barnes and Noble vs Amazon) and the way we get our entertainment now is completely different. I wonder how many now watch live TV or just watch what we want when we want at our convenience on a device of our choosing? Perhaps, even whilst sat in the park? It’s also launched social media into the mainstream of people’s lives and opened up all sorts of questions about morality, fake news and mental health issues. It’s changed the way we live our lives, access information and get our entertainment.
What is Web 3.0?
Web3 is the third generation of the web, referring to a Semantic Web that can be processed by technology. It’s the future internet. In essence, this means that we will see a more decentralized, and open era of the greater utility of technologies than we have done previously. This will include the advancement of artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, connectivity and a presence and connectivity from anywhere.
Just like Web2, it could also turn out to be incredibly disruptive to businesses and people’s lives. Ironically, it falls back on Tim Berners-Lee’s initial view of the Internet that it should be:
- Decentralized: That permission should not be needed from a central authority to publish anything on the Internet. It should also have no point of failure nor a controlling node and should be controlled such that it can be terminated without warning.
- Open Source: That instead of small groups of individuals controlling the network that it was developed and evolved in an open source manner with everyone encouraged to participate.
Web3 aims to bring meaning and context to web pages, and content and enable software to complete complicated workflows and tasks for users. It has already moved well beyond the ideas of a semantic Internet mentioned above and is already incorporating blockchain technology and token based economics. The phrase Web3 was first mentioned in 2014 by Gavin Wood, the founder of Ethereum, which is a decentralised, open-source blockchain with its own cryptocurrency.
Many see Web3 providing increased data security and privacy for Internet users as well as being able to scale platforms much faster into mainstream use, but many worries that decentralizing the Internet will further radicalise individuals due to low moderation and scale up the proliferation of harmful and illegal content due to lack of ownership. There are also concerns that it may make the rich richer, and the poor poorer as small groups bind together collecting greater data and acting upon it. It’s interesting though that Elon Musk (founder of Tesla and SpaceX) and Jack Dorsey (founder of Twitter and Square), both think that Web3 is just another buzzword just like the word Cloud was and is.
Features of Web3
Web3 will greatly improve our current Internet. With features like data privacy, decentralization, and security, web3 is being developed with the aim of making the internet a more secure and user-friendly place.
Let’s take a look at some of the key features that make web3 different from its predecessors.
This is a core feature and it’s where no central organisation is in charge of the network. It is a decentralized network. Everyone will use it because everyone will trust it as it adheres to the same open standards (known as consensus protocols). Due to its semantic nature, it will help make humans smarter as it will be able to add meaning when processing data. Decentralization will increase privacy to a level beyond Web2. Many believe that Web 1.0 and Web 2.0 are controlled by big tech companies and Web3 will remove this reliance and controlling factor.
What this means, is that as people develop Web3 applications and platforms they will be able to do so from resources within the user-owned networks or what will be known as “work protocols” creating a permissionless platform. Instead of for example a cloud network, individuals will contribute their resources in exchange for fees or “network equity” in the form of blockchain tokens. As workers compete for work capability becomes cheaper than anything we’ve known from Web2. Web3 will allow for direct ownership through non0fungible tokens (NFTs) and no one will have the power to take this away from you.
Blockchain is just a decentralised ledger of transactions across a peer-to-peer network. This means transactions can be confirmed without the need for a central or clearing authority. Use cases include financial transactions, voting, trading and fund transfers. Web3 apps will be built in blockchain and these new apps are known as DApps (which stands for decentralized apps). It will encourage equitable ownership.
Users can create, share, and link data via search and analysis based on the capability to understand the meaning of words rather than keywords or numbers. Application sharing, purchases, and censorship-resistant peer-to-peer file storage will all be made possible by smart contract technology. The modification to business practices compels consumers and producers as it represents a huge paradigm shift.
By unleashing natural language processing Web3 will be able to differentiate information the way that we can. It will just be able to do it faster and produce more relevant results. An example of this from today, is online platforms allow people currently to speak about any product or service they’ve used, but it is hard to eliminate the effects of unfair or misleading reviews. AI can train itself to remove fake reviews.
Web3 will remove a number of the downfalls that we currently experience on the Internet. It will help make us better connected by deeply integrating with IoT (the Internet of Things) meaning devices will become ever more connected to our lives. It will provide ubiquity, meaning we will have the ability to be everywhere at the same time. We will no longer be limited to just our PC, smartphone or tablet, but be able to interact with a new generation of smart gadgets. This will have ramifications for our identity (so it’s likely goodbye Passports), items we purchase and any software we own will integrate across the platform and become even more useful and powerful.
Many see Web3 as the foundation to what will be the Metaverse and a whole new Internet realm. It will help blur the line between the virtual and the reality. 3D worlds (or Web3 Space) will become a way of life for some and this opens up new doors to how we communicate, interact and go about our daily lives. This new level of immersion opens up more realistic and immersive gaming, supports better healthcare, supports house buying, eCommerce and more in virtual realities.
At the moment, most of us access the Internet via a web browser. We might even install some additional plugins to enhance our experience. This will become much more sophisticated and be able to do much more advanced tasks. For example, we will see an increase in bots which will be able to better serve our needs. We might not even need a browser, as it may become a fully immersive operating system reliant on AI to provide us the information we seek. Thanks to the semantic web, the way we retrieve our information may look very different to what it does today.
Uses of Web3
There is a wide and varying use case for Web3 which is still only emerging. Typical use cases of Web3 to date are:
Also known as DefFi this is allowing financial services to cut out the middle man and relies on the automated protocols and nodes of Web3 instead. This is opening up a new, unregulated banking system which has got Governments in a spin.
It is a financial eco-system based on blockchain technology and lets users buy and sell assets almost instantaneously, often in the form of cryptocurrency (native token), an alternative form of payment created using encryption algorithms and often stored in what is known as crypto wallets. You might have heard of some such as Bitcoin, Ripple XRP and Ethereum.
All of this will bring about lower transaction fees, greater globalisation and cohesion and greater automated governance. It has the potential to eradicate fraud, money laundering and organised crime.
Advanced Immersive Gaming and the Metaverse
Web3 will open up immersive 3D spaces which feel as though you are actually there. The arrival of the Metaverse has already been seen to be popular and many are now living out their lives in realistic homes that exist only in virtual reality. The Oculus headset proved the top Christmas present of 2021 and the company Meta made a loss just to get the product out to the market.
Not only can you play games in the Metaverse but you can socialise, attend live virtual 360 events, watch TV, and learn and experience content in a whole new way. You can even work within the Metaverse and many see this as a potential solution to reducing global travel. You also get to experience your own digital self in the form of an avatar. The technology is only set to grow and Web3 is at the forefront of this transition.
The emergence of eSports has left many wondering whether there is now a career in gaming or play to earn gaming. This means you can earn money playing games either for entertainment, research or direct competition. Part of the allure is that others can join in and be fully immersive with you. This is why companies are racing to set up their own Web3 space in the Metaverse.
Next Generation dApps
These decentralized applications that use blockchain technology won’t be managed by any particular organisation. This is because Web3 supports development with advanced features that match or exceed usability meaning Web3 dApps will vary in type from video games, DeFi, NFT, and social networks. Strangely, any DeFi dApps designed for Web3 projects will be independent and compatible and you do begin to wonder what this means for how businesses operate and conduct business.
If you’re confused, Web3 will likely work the way the International Space Station did where countries came together with a singular goal for the greater good. This collaborative work each with its own specialisation is a little bit how dApps would come together and integrate.
Privacy and Security
Nevertheless, blockchain is the biggest technology with the idea to decentralize the future. Yet, complete transparency raises worries about privacy among users.
Web3 allows blockchain infrastructures to utilize features like cryptography and zero-knowledge proof to go beyond digital privacy for enhanced confidentiality in decentralized web environments.
It makes the web safer, but also potentially easier for people to hide and will be a difficult balancing act that developers will need to consider.
3D technology is being used to produce WEB3, which is being used to develop high-end metaverse projects. As a result, companies are developing realistic (workplace) environments which mirror their physical workplaces, provide avatars for employees to work and interact in, and hold meetings and conferences just like real offices.
Greater Use of NFTs
Blockchain NFTs (Non-Fungible Tokens) are a vital component of the system. NFTs have many applications on the Web3 ecosystem, including incentivizing participants, providing individuals digital ownership, and recording immutable information on the blockchain.
Businesses have started accepting loans by tokenizing their companies, offering exclusivity and ownership of the blockchain technology, or starting what is known as a DAOC (an online U.S.-based decentralized autonomous organization community).
A New Social Media World
Web3 represents a new era of social media platforms focused on empowering users to generate and distribute content on their own. Web 3 applications will introduce new social media apps like Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat, requiring users to submit their data to an authorized entity. As a significant change, Web3 applications allow anonymous access to the users via wallet address and private key.
Benefits of Web3 Technology
As the internet continues to evolve, so does the way we use it. Web 3.0 is the latest stage in the internet’s development, and it promises a more user-friendly and interactive experience.
Here are some of the benefits of Web3:
With Web 3.0, users will be able to surf the web with increased security thanks to improved encryption methods.
Greater Data Privacy
Another benefit of this new technology is that it will offer users greater privacy protection by allowing them to control how their personal data is used. We will also achieve greater transparency too.
One of the most appealing aspects of Web 3.0 is its enhanced usability. This includes features such as easier navigation, better search functions, and more personalized content.
In Web3, you can narrow down your search information more precisely. Once you start searching a search engine for something, it will provide you with more specific results than will a search engine with the most popular pages.
On Web3, data will be stored on distributed nodes, so users won’t have to worry about any account or service disruptions that may occur due to technical issues or other reasons.
Disadvantages of Web3
The rising popularity of Web3 has led many to believe that this is the future of the internet. However, there are several disadvantages of Web3 that should be considered:
Due to the sheer power of Web3, current technology devices will need to be upgraded and improved. This might slow the adoption of the technology and may be too costly for many.
Given that technology is complicated and technical, it might be that Web3 is just a step too far for some. This might mean they get left behind or that Web3 gets left behind until it is simplified for the general public.
Existing Websites Will Need Upgrading
Existing websites will all need either redeveloping or upgrading which will require investment from businesses and a general consensus of adoption. Many may just choose to keep their existing websites in place. Owners will eventually need to modernise however and it might be difficult to know when especially as Web3 is only just arriving.
Information May Be Easier to Access
Despite being more secure, the interconnected nature of blockchain and lack of decentralization may mean that your information falls into the wrong hands and there will be no fall back no morality surrounding it. Personal and political data might be much easier to access and the borders of who has access to what will be greatly blurred and from where the information is being accessed from. This will make regulation across the industry difficult.
It’s New and Emerging
Web3 is still emerging and there are no clear guidelines or direction that the technology might take. Early investors could end up either on the right path or the wrong one. We might all upgrade our gadgets in the near future only to find it’s moved in a new direction.
In conclusion, Web 3.0 is the next step in the evolution of the internet. It will be more user-friendly and allow for greater connection between users and devices. This will lead to more efficient and effective use of the internet by everyone. It is a futuristic concept at the moment but it is developing fast. There are already examples in the finance and healthcare industries where Web3 is making a huge difference.
- Web3 is still emerging and has a long way to go.
- It will increase data security and privacy.
- Blockchain technology will help remove the middle man increasing greater efficiencies across the business.
- The technology will make applications more powerful and our digital world ever more immersive.
- It will change the way we access information.
Whatever form Web3 takes and evolves into, it’s not going away anytime soon and is one to watch and adapt with. The future Internet is developing right now.