Web 3.0 refers to the broad range of innovations that will define the next generation of the Internet. It is envisioned to be a more decentralized version of today’s Internet that places the power of creation back into the hands of artists, entrepreneurs, and thought leaders. With the use of blockchain technology, creation platforms will now be run and maintained by independent users as opposed to single entities and corporations.
What is Web 3.0?
Web 3.0 is positioned to be the third iteration of the Internet as we know it. This next-generation network will be a data-driven system that is connected and maintained in a decentralized fashion–relying more and more on blockchain technology.
With the help of the blockchain, the Internet will be composed of more platforms designed for privacy and security, and users will have greater control over how their data is transmitted and shared, unlike how current platforms such as Google, Facebook, or Amazon tend to collect user data covertly for targeted marketing campaigns.
In Web 3.0, users will no longer have to give up their personal data as much in order to partake in certain web services or products, in the same way that people today are already able to transact and trade with cryptocurrencies anonymously and privately through peer-to-peer (P2P) networks and permissionless platforms.
Besides cryptocurrencies, user interactions on Web 3.0 will make extensive use of other blockchain-related technologies such as smart contracts, the metaverse, decentralized applications (dApps), and decentralized autonomous organizations (DAOs) across different industries such as business, entertainment, education, scientific research, commerce, and public governance.
Some of the other driving features that will make up Web 3.0 include artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning, and increased connectivity among devices and technologies and use of IoT (Internet of Things).
What was Web 1.0 and 2.0?
Web 1.0, also referred to as the “static web” or the “dot-com era”, first found its way in households and institutions during the late 80s and early 90s. It was the first iteration of the Internet which was mostly one-dimensional or “read-only” because ordinary users at that time couldn’t really publish their own content or comment on the online material.
If you have memories of using a dial-up modem to connect to the Internet, then you were able to live through the simpler times of Web 1.0 when it was mostly about absorbing content or “surfing the net” as it was called back then.
Websites were made available online by just a handful of people and institutions who were looking to use the Internet as a possible revenue stream. In fact, this is why the “.com” domain name is the earliest and most widely used domain suffix as it is meant to indicate that these websites were designed for “commercial” profit.
Back then, if you wanted to put up your own material, you would have to set up your web page and have it hosted on web servers run by an Internet service provider, or at the very least, find a site that provides free web hosting services.
Web 2.0 on the other hand, dubbed as “The Social Web”, is the current phase of the Internet which is characterized by a lot more multimedia formats and interactivity thanks to social media. From the time of Friendster and MySpace to our current daily staples of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Wikipedia, YouTube and more recently–Tik Tok, the web today allows users to interact with the Internet in a more immersive and collaborative manner.
Cloud technology also made it possible to manage the massive amounts of user data in social networks. Whereas during the Web 1.0 phase people had to rely on their own hardware in their homes and offices to store their photos and documents, website companies now have huge warehouse-sized data centers located all across the globe that are constantly running to keep our lives online.
This kind of setup is an important point to highlight, as it implies who has access and control to the information that makes up the Internet–and why the Internet today is largely centralized.
The Internet was meant to be decentralized
Web 3.0 emphasizes decentralization as its main feature, but it is interesting to note that such was already in the blueprint from the very start. Internet inventor, Tim Berners-Lee (who created the World Wide Web in 1989 to make data and information-sharing between scientists across the world a lot easier while working for CERN), envisioned even back then Internet as a free and empowering platform wherein “no permission is needed from a central authority to post anything on the web.”
Aside from the lack of a central authority he also stressed, “Instead of code being written and controlled by a small group of experts, it [should be] developed in full view of everyone, encouraging maximum participation and experimentation.”
Both Web 1.0 and Web 2.0 sought to achieve this early vision that Berners-Lee had for the Internet, and though this initial vision is successful in some respects–the Internet is not owned by anyone nor controlled completely by any government–they also fell short, as the online space today is dominated by a few major key players such as Google, Amazon, and Facebook.
These corporate entities essentially have a monopoly on online data flows and the way that the system is structured makes it more profitable for big corporations more than the actual user base itself–which is what Web 3.0 hopes to turn around.
How the blockchain is key to Web 3.0
As what we pointed out previously, the Internet today is still largely centralized–as data is managed mostly in cloud data centers that are owned by corporate entities.
This is where blockchain technology comes in as the best solution, as a blockchain is basically a global network of computers that are not owned by anyone, but are simply working together through algorithmic protocols which are secured by encryption. These computers, or “nodes” are found in ordinary homes and offices, owned by ordinary people who are essentially “renting out” their hardware’s processing power for anyone who wishes to use the network.
On large blockchains like Bitcoin (BTC) or Ethereum (ETH) for example, there are so many nodes participating in the network that they number in the tens or hundreds of thousands. This is basically what being “decentralized” means. Instead of housing and managing data in just one or a few locations, the whole workload is distributed across an entire global network.
This comes with a host of benefits: For one, a blockchain is inherently more secure and is more resistant to hacking and other cyber attacks since it doesn’t have a single point of failure. Having the network distributed globally also means that the blockchain hardly ever experiences any downtime. And since a blockchain is designed not to be controlled or to benefit any single entity–any profit or revenue generated from the network also gets more widely distributed across the very people who are maintaining the network itself.
But blockchains can go way beyond processing payment and money transfers as they are used with cryptocurrencies. In fact, any kind of data that can be housed and managed on a server or a datacenter–can also be run on a blockchain instead. Given enough nodes participating in the network–even the whole Internet.
But while there is no definitive timeline on when Web 3.0 is expected to come into fruition, the groundwork is continually being made to bridge the gap between the present and future, primarily with the increasing adoption of cryptocurrencies, non-fungible tokens (NFTs) and dApps such as decentralized finance (DeFi) and play-to-earn gaming.
Make no mistake, the Web 3.0 is on its way.
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