What is Web 3.0?

What is Web 3.0?

The internet is one of the most significant technological advancements we have seen throughout human history, and it has brought about a level of communication and interconnectivity that is unprecedented. But what if we could enhance communication and interconnectivity in a way that engages even more with the everyday user? That is what the idea of Web 3.0 is proposing to bring in the coming years.

In the early 90s, when the internet was a novel phenomenon that was starting to pick up momentum, the websites on the internet were “static pages.” Meaning they consisted of just static text and images (and, if you were lucky, a video or two), with no user interface involved. Over time, things like Adobe Flash and JavaScript added to the richness and complexity of the internet. However, during this time, most users were not creating content or contributing to the internet; they were using it as consumers. This was the first iteration of the internet and is considered Web 1.0.

Web 2.0

As the internet evolved, Web 2.0 is said to have emerged around 2004, and this is the version of the internet we have today. It is characterized by interactive platforms that not only dispense information but also allow users to contribute information on centralized websites. Social Media is a big factor in this current iteration of the internet, and sites like Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and YouTube allow users to easily generate their own content and contribute it to the platform while interactively engaging with others.

Another aspect of how Web 2.0 interacts with the information contributed by users is through data collection. Websites started to gather information about their users, their behaviors, and how they use the internet to learn more about them. The result was in websites serving their users more personalized content, which kept people on a particular platform longer because they viewed content relevant to them specifically. In addition, this user-generated content allowed these companies to become more profitable.

This selling of personalized data led to the current age of improved targeted advertising. The social media platforms and other websites started selling this personal data of their users to advertisers to serve specific users personalized ads catered to their interests and behaviors. While these privacy conditions are specified within the terms of use agreements of websites, it has led to privacy concerns. In addition, the nature of data collection and serving personalized content and targeted advertising leads to two people viewing different content catered to each individual specifically. These factors of Web 2.0 are essential to understand when discussing how Web 3.0 may unfold in the coming years ahead.

Web 3.0

Web 3.0 is said to be the next stage of the evolution of the internet, and there are different ideas as to how it will all play out. While the idea of users engaging in virtual reality technologies, resulting in more immersive experiences online, has recently gained a lot of attention, there are a lot of other factors that are likely to be included in Web 3.0. For example, more refined search engines and other user interfaces that further utilize AI and machine learning are likely to play a role. This creates more relevant and personalized experiences for users.

Another big component of Web 3.0 is that it will potentially be based on blockchain technology and decentralized platforms.

What is blockchain? Blockchain is a way of recording data and information that makes it harder or impossible to change or hack into the system, protecting it from being corrupted. A blockchain is similar to a digital ledger of interactions, replicated across an entire system engaged in the blockchain. Allowing the information to be protected and theoretically incorruptible.

The most well-known example of blockchain technologies are cryptocurrencies, such as Bitcoin or Ethereum. Most cryptocurrencies are known for being decentralized networks through the use of blockchain technology. No overarching organization regulates the production, distribution, or management of the currency; rather, it is regulated and protected by the “community” or blockchain itself. This idea of decentralization is an important concept in thinking about Web 3.0.

One idea that some have proposed as a distinguishing element between Web 2.0 and Web 3.0; is that in Web 2.0, your data is the product being sold. Whereas in Web 3.0, some theorize that you will own your data and content, or at least have more anonymity in regards to it. This is related to the idea of decentralized networks. In Web 2.0, there are very large websites that are centralized networks backed up on the website’s own server. The website has control over what is allowed to be posted and what content is displayed on the website. An example would be if you post a video on YouTube or comment on Facebook; these sites have the final say whether your content will remain on the site and will be stored on their servers.

In Web 3.0, utilizing blockchain technology, some say the internet will evolve and start moving towards an internet where there are no centralized websites or authorities that have control over your content. Using blockchain technology, the content will not be stored on a single server of a large website or company, but rather several computers across the entire network, similar to how we see cryptocurrencies operating. Therefore no one authority can delete the content since it is spread out over the blockchain.

Decentralized Autonomous Organizations (DAOs)

Not having a centralized authority regulating the type of content posted to a network also gives people opportunities to post illegal content or promote hate speech, which is a cause for concern. One of the primary benefits of having a central authority regulating a given platform is to avoid this from happening. This leads to the idea of Decentralized Autonomous Organizations or DAOs. It is theorized by some that in Web 3.0, we will come to a point where each company on the internet is run by a DAO. As opposed to centralized platforms with CEOs or company Presidents, DAOs operate by giving control to people who have earned the most credit within the system or network. These people get to make decisions about how it operates, similar to the idea of shareholders or a democratic organization. This means that there could potentially be no censorship of certain websites by a single centralized entity. Therefore, DAOs may develop ways to control illegal or unwanted activity within the network on their own in a more communal fashion.

Digital Privacy

Another factor some have suggested will be a part of Web 3.0 is there will be more personal digital privacy for users. This means that your digital identity or your digital footprint will not be as linked to your real identity as it is now. This means your online activity, such as the websites you visit, your purchases, downloads, etc., may not be collected as part of your overall data profile. In Web 2.0, activities many would view as happening offline or “non-digitally” are still being tracked in many cases, such as debit card purchases at restaurants, gas stations, hardware stores, and other things like GPS location, etc.

Web 3.0 Impact

It is impossible to know how Web 3.0 will unfold over the years, but the ideas presented in this article cover some of the predictions experts in the field have been making. It will most likely be a gradual adoption of ideas and technologies that slowly shift us away from how things currently are under Web 2.0. These things won’t happen overnight, but they are sure to bring about changes in how we live our day-to-day lives and how businesses operate. For example, web 2.0 brought in massive changes in the way we lived our lives and had a significant impact on various industries such as retail, entertainment, media, and advertising that did not adapt to some of the newer internet-based business models. This led to major changes within these industries and even the eventual shut down of many well-known companies.

Similar to how Web 2.0 changed our lives and business, we can expect that Web 3.0 will also usher in some significant changes. Those advocating the advantages of blockchain have theorized it can make the internet more competitive again for smaller businesses. Blockchain could potentially create a more level playing field, taking away some control from larger centralized companies and empowering smaller businesses. In addition, there is speculation that Web 3.0 could result in the disassembly of some of the largest centralized companies on the internet. Some argue that through a combination of the regulatory legislature regarding these large, centralized companies and the growth of unregulated DAOs that could begin to replace these large companies that currently dominate the internet, a situation could unfold that radically transforms the internet landscape as we now know it.

Conversely, many in the field say that some of the ideas regarding Web 3.0, such as the idea of it being run on the blockchain, are not scalable and are mostly hype. There are scams revolving around some of the buzz surrounding Web 3.0, and many companies are said to be likely to fail. But as we saw with the dot-com bubble of Web 1.0, early failure does not imply that later success is not possible or probable. So again, it is unknown how Web 3.0 will truly evolve, but as we’ve seen throughout the history of the internet, it is wise to stay up to date with the latest developments and trends.

How Businesses Can Prepare to Stay Competitive

  • Stay updated

    Read articles and watch videos and tutorials on Web 3.0 and blockchain.

  • Get engaged

    Seek out, find and use blockchain and decentralized apps.

  • Start a conversation

    Talk about Web 3.0 and blockchain with friends, family, colleagues, etc.

  • Develop a decentralized app

    Experiment with building your own decentralized apps.

  • Join a community

    Join groups and forums focused on Web 3.0 and blockchain. Reach out and build relationships with web developers who are actively using blockchain.

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