The digital era doesn’t cease to amaze people with new inventions, innovations, and most importantly, new vocabulary and phrases that tend to confuse as much as they inform. You must have already come across new words like blockchain, cryptocurrency, decentralized systems, Web 3.0, etc. Some of these words have become part of our daily lives, but people can often misinterpret their meaning.

In this post, we want to demystify Web 3.0 and have an in-depth understanding of how it works and how it differs from Web 2.0 and Web 1.0.

Web 3.0 is the upcoming third generation of the internet. Applications and systems will no longer run on a single server with one central authority but on distributed ledgers such as blockchain technologies (a decentralized database of peer-to-peer servers). In addition, Web 3.0 applications and websites use technologies like machine learning (ML), big data, decentralized ledger technology (DLT), Artificial intelligence (AI), etc., to handle data and process information.

All these terms used to describe Web 3.0 above might sound quite complex and confusing. You might also ask yourself, “How does Web 3.0 affect an average internet user?” For that, we need to start from the beginning. We will examine Web 1.0 and Web 2.0 and understand their features and technologies. Once done, we will dive deeper into Web 3.0, where we will look at all the technologies and buzzwords surrounding this new iteration of the World Wide Web.

What is Web 1.0?

Web 1.0 was the first generation of the World Wide Web from early 1990 to around 2004. It was invented by a computer scientist – Tim Berners-Lee, who wrote the first web client and server in 1990.

In this era, only a few content creators could publish content on the web. That was mainly because the resources to learn the required computer programming languages and network configurations skills were limited. Therefore, most people ended up being content consumers. Personal web pages were quite common in Web 1.0, but they mainly consisted of static pages.

To summarize, Web 1.0 was a giant library of hyperlinked information systems. Since all the pages were static, users could only read the information posted there. There were no features to like, share or even comment on any piece of content. Users could click through the various links provided on the images and texts to access the information they need. In short, the content was “read-only.”

Characteristics of Web 1.0

  • It was made up of hyper-linked static pages.
  • There was no interaction between users and the created content – No followers, No likes, No comments. Everything was ‘read-only.’
  • Open-source: Anybody with the required technical skills could create and publish content on the web.
  • The content was stored on a server’s file system and not on databases.
  • Developers mainly used tables and frames to position content on the web, resulting in unresponsive content.
  • If you wish to experience some websites from the Web 1.0 era, here are a few examples, – www.fogcam.org, www.edition.cnn.com/US/OJ/, and www.dolekemp96.org/main.htm.

What is Web 2.0?

Web 2.0 is the current generation of the world wide web. When discussing Web 1.0 above, we learned that much of the content was generated by a small group of individuals, with many becoming content consumers. With Web 2.0, things changed significantly. A large amount of data online is User Generated Content (UGC) —for example, social media content, blogs, vlogs, etc. 

To better understand what we are talking about, think of any social media application like Facebook. Every day, we have people (Facebook users) posting content like articles, videos, and photos for an even bigger and growing audience. While Web 1.0 primarily focused on one group creating content and the other group acting as the audience, Web 2.0 focused on participating and contributing.

The Web 2.0 era also brought technologies that ensured the content was no longer “read-only.” That includes Javascript frameworks, CSS3, HTML5 etc.  People could now talk to each other across continents, collaborate to work on a particular task, share photos, buy and sell products or services and so much more every day.

Additionally, Web 2.0 allows users to react to content. They can like, share and even follow the content creator to get updated on any future content. If Web 1.0 was the “read-only web,” Web 2.0 is the “participative web.” Below is a breakdown of Web 2.0 features.

Characteristics of Web”2.0

  • Rich user experience: Web 2.0 contains dynamic content that users can interact with. For example, users can click and zoom an image to get more information out of it.
  • Folksonomy: Web 2.0 allows users to sort information and classify it collectively. That includes tagging websites, videos, and photos.
  • User participation: In Web 2.0, content flows two-way between the site owner and the site users through reviewing and online commenting. Site users can also create User Generated Content (UGC) for others to see.
  • Web 2.0 developed APIs, allowing different applications to interact and share data.
  • It brought a shift from the “one-to-many” publishing model to the “many-to-many” or “many-to-one” model.

Usage of Web 2.0

Web 2.0 technologies allow startups to develop applications and platforms where users can share their perspectives, opinions, thoughts, and experiences. Unlike Web 1.0, where the content was static, Web 2.0 applications tend to interact with the end-user.

  • Podcasting
  • Social media
  • Tagging
  • Blogging
  • Commenting
  • Curating with RSS
  • Social networking
  • Web content voting

The Problem With Web2.0

Up to this point, when we compare Web 1.0 and Web 2.0, the latter looks like the perfect solution to any problem. But why are we moving to Web 3.0? What’s wrong with Web 2.0?

Compromising Security

In Web 2.0, users are at the mercy of giant tech companies like Google, YouTube, Meta, Amazon, etc., providing us with “free” services. But are these services entirely “free,” or do they come at a cost?

When most of these companies launched during the dotcom bubble, their services were free, which is why most users adopted them. Unfortunately, as their userbase grew, some companies started monetizing user data for profits. Instead of companies directly charging users for their services, they collect enough user data to create targeted market campaigns.

In Web 2.0, users must trust third parties with their personal information to access the services and products they need with the hope that they will store this information securely. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case, as data breaches and hacks are daily news on the web.

Censoring Information

Now that a few giant tech companies dominate the internet, content censorship has become a concern for many people in the last couple of years. Users must be cautious of what they post on social media since these companies can filter any content they see fit.

When power is that consolidated, political agendas are at the heart of what controls what information people can access. This risky tactic distorts reality and manipulates people to accept particular values and perspectives while silencing those who don’t fit the agenda.

Web 3.0

Finally, we are at the current new iteration of the world wide web – Web 3.0. The term “Web3” was coined by Gavin Wood – (Ethereum co-founder) in 2014. This term became more popular in cryptocurrency forums and has since gained track in tech companies and developer communities.

Web 3.0 is still evolving, and as such, it has no universally accepted definition. Although we are already experiencing some elements of Web 3.0 technologies today, we still have a long way to go. In that case, to better understand Web 3.0, we need to look into the future.

Web 3.0 primarily focuses on decentralization and making use of blockchain-based technologies. Web 3 applications and services will increasingly be powered by blockchain, crypto-assets (fungible and non-fungible), Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, and Metaverses. The end goal is to have much more intelligent and adaptive applications.

An exciting feature of Web 3.0 is that it’s expected to provide personalized content and enable people to be in control of their data. They can control who, if anyone, profits off them and their information. Furthermore, instead of handing over your email and password to a large company, you could log in securely and anonymously all over the internet without being traced using an internet identity. 

Think of “internet identity” as a smart contract for your data that allows you to authenticate with an identity anchor. Here, an “identity anchor” could be a security key or facial recognition. Logging in this way makes it much harder for hackers since there is no one place like a company’s database where all your data is stored. Further, this implies more safety and control for regular internet users.

Web 3.0 also brings forth the notion of the Semantic Web, which aims to make the web data much more structured. One of the prominent advocates of integrating semantic technology is Tim Berners-Lee (the World Wide Web creator).

How Does Web 3.0 Work?

When we look at Web 1.0 and Web 2.0, the Hyper Text Markup Language (HTML) is the standard markup language used to layer and display elements on the web. In Web 3.0, HTML will still be a core technology. However, the HTML will fetch data/ content from different data sources, unlike what we use today.

With Web 2.0, most applications and services run on a centralized server or database with one single point of authority. Web 3.0 focuses on decentralization using blockchain-based technologies. Therefore, application data and services will be stored across multiple locations, eliminating the need for an arbitrary central authority.

In the blockchain and Web 3.0 communities, the idea of a Decentralized Autonomous Organization is an emerging form of governance (DAO). With a DAO, Web 3.0 technologies and communities offer a type of self-governance in an effort to move away from centralized control over platform operations.

With blockchain technology, Web 3.0 also brings forth the idea of cryptocurrency. In Web 2.0, we transact using the FIAT currency, which unfortunately gives central banks and governments control over a country’s economy (centralized). On the other hand, cryptocurrency is decentralized and governed by blockchain protocols, code, and communities.

Web 1.0 and Web 2.0 mainly used IPv4 addressing. Unfortunately, IPv4 provides a finite number of addresses that can be publicly routable on the internet. Over the decades, the web has grown enormously, and we now have more and more devices connecting to the internet. Web 3.0 focuses on the IPv6 addressing, which supports 2^128 Internet addresses. That’s 1028 times more than what is provided by IPv4.

Characteristics of Web 3.0

  • Semantic web: This is one of the critical cornerstones of Web 3.0. Semantic technology will enable computers to understand what a specific set of data means. Using AI, computers can now use this information to generate, share and connect content through search and analysis.
  • Artificial Intelligence: This is the other fundamental cornerstone of Web 3.0. Artificial Intelligence (AI) or machine intelligence is the intelligence displayed by computers in contrast to the natural intelligence portrayed by humans. AI will enable applications and systems to filter data and presents a user with content that it finds appropriate.
  • Social bookmarking will also play a part similar to search engines. However, unlike today’s search engines, social bookmarking will provide much more accurate information as it fetches data from user-voted sources. And since humans can manipulate these results, AI will help sort legitimate and falsified results.
  • 3D Graphics: Web 3.0 will transform the internet’s future as it transforms from a straightforward 2D web into a more realistic three-dimensional cyberworld. In Web 3.0, three-dimensional design is widely employed in websites and services like online gaming, e-commerce, real estate, etc.
  • Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT) and Smart contracts: These will enable users to have a trustless system by integrating smart contracts, which do not need a middle man to be a guarantor to make that contract occur. That will allow users to have an impossible-to-hack database where they can store content they own virtually.
  • Ubiquity: Ubiquitous can be equated to omnipresence. It refers to the idea of something being everywhere at the same time. To some extent, we have achieved this in Web 2.0 using different applications and services. For example, when you upload a photo on Instagram, it becomes publicly accessible to anyone anywhere.

    Currently, the internet is not limited to Desktop computers as it was with Web 1.0 or mobile devices as seen in Web 2.0. We now have more and more devices connected to the Internet of Things (IoT). Web 3.0 will become omnipresent. Content will be accessible anywhere by multiple applications.

Differences Between the Web 1.0, Web 2.0, and Web 3.0?

Web 1.0 Web 2.0 Web 3.0
Created by Tim Berners-Lee in 1989 Term coined by Tim O’Reilly in 2004 Term coined by Gavin Wood, co-founder of Ethereum in 2014
It featured static web content Features dynamic web content the users could interact with Features semantic content
Company Focus Community focus Individual focus
Centralized infrastructure Cloud computing infrastructure which is mainly centralized Decentralized infrastructure
HTML/HTTP/URL/Portals XML/RSS RDF/RDFS/OWL
Banner advertising Interactive advertising Behavioral advertising
Page Views Cost per click User Engagement
File and web servers, HTML, search engines and portals AJAX, JavaScript, CSS, and HTML Blockchain, artificial intelligence, and decentralized protocols

Web 3.0 applications.

With the help of blockchain technologies, we already have a few Web 3.0 applications today. Let’s look at some of them.

  • NFTs: Non Fungible Tokens turn your digital assets into one of a kind by creating a unique digital signature that defines the ownership of your assets that can be bought or sold for money.
  • Cryptocurrency: Cryptos like Bitcoin and Ethereum are Web 3.0 applications (digital currencies) that are created and governed using algorithms.
  • DeFi: Decentralized Finance is the opposite of centralized finance, where we have banks and government in control. With DeFi, we have pieces of code that act as a bank. Decentralized finance is built on three main things – blockchain, cryptocurrency, and smart contracts.
  • dApp: Decentralized Applications (dApp) are applications running on the blockchain peer-to-peer network. They make use of smart contracts for service delivery.
  • DAOs: Decentralized Autonomous Organization is like any traditional organization like Uber or Google. The big difference is that it’s autonomous and operates entirely transparently, independent of any human intervention.

Conclusion.

In summary, one can easily claim Web 3.0 is the next progressive evolution of the web. Web 3.0 will change the way we interact with the internet in ways we can’t imagine right now. You might have already experienced the effect of Web 3.0 without even knowing. Have you used Apple’s Siri or WolfromAlpha? These are Web 3.0 applications that can summarise large amounts of information into knowledge and valuable actions for people.

Did you like this article?

Share your thoughts by replying on Twitter of Become A Better Programmer.

Author