The development of technology and its interlinking ecosystem is happening so fast that we barely even notice it. Let’s have a little throwback to the development of web space – what it was like and what has changed in the recent past. Average folks have barely paid attention to the rapid change that has happened since Web 1.0. It may look like something that we use everyday without any interruptions unless unilateral forces shut it down for the wrong reasons mostly.
It is safe to say that the utilities that bore fruits as a result of the interconnected world have created new opportunities in careers, education, business, healthcare among everything else you could imagine. The central feature of any Web iteration is the Internet which is like a common commodity used by different people in different ways. Not to mention, it has been a key weapon used to uplift millions out of poverty in the recent decades.
To the uninitiated, let me break that we are witnessing and directly/indirectly participating in the transition from Web 2.0 to Web 3.0! And you must know about it because with any iterations made in the world of technology, it is bound to improve the challenges we face in the existing system. And today technology powers everything. So with adequate knowledge about Web 3, you will be capable of making that transition – be it in your careers or business or a profession – to a better system. And how better is it? Keep reading 🙂
Web and Internet
First, let’s clarify a couple of points so that we are on the same page. The concept of “Web” and “Internet” are often interchanged, however, it is not the same. Before that, a disclaimer! There is a blog published previously about Web 3.0 and how it differs from Web 2.0 and Web 1.0. It specifically talks about use cases and programming languages used in Web 3.0. And, this blog is more about understanding the finer aspects of each generation of Web so you can feel confident about making a move to Web 3.0 as and when you get the opportunity.
What is Web?
Web (World Wide Web) is a distributed system of information resources – websites connected by hyperlinks. Physically the resources are located on different computers connected to the Internet. Web operation is based on URL links and DNS servers. URLs (Uniform Resource Locators) are links that look like this – https://shardeum.org/ – the readable addresses of static/dynamic pages and documents on the web. DNS servers connect such links to the physical addresses of computers on the Internet.
What is Internet?
The Internet is a global system of connections between computers enabled through fiber optic cables at the bottom of the ocean, copper wires around apartments, and more recently via satellites. They are essentially protocols for the purpose of exchanging information and identifying resources. In addition to the Web, the Internet serves email and other data transmission systems.
A web service is a software system designed to support computer-to-computer interaction over the Internet. Web services are not new and usually take the form of application programming interfaces or API’s. Right now, competition is abundant in almost all the industries and rightfully so. That’s why sharing information and communicating effectively is a daily need. The Web is a system of interconnected hypertext documents accessible via the Internet. With a web browser, the user views web pages that may contain text, images, video, and other multimedia materials and navigate between them using hyperlinks.
The World Wide Web was created in 1989 by Sir Tim Berners-Lee, who worked at CERN (European Organization for Nuclear Research) in Geneva, Switzerland. Since then, Berners-Lee has played an important role in leading the development of web standards (e.g. markup languages). In more recent years, he has also championed his vision for “semantic web” that is core to AI, IoT, and blockchain smart contracts. Don’t worry, we will guide you patiently!
The Web 1.0 : Read-Only Era
There was a small number of writers creating Web pages for a large number of readers in Web 1.0. As a result, users could get information by going directly to the source. WWW or Web 1.0 is a system of interconnected hypertext documents accessed via the Internet. The first implementation of Web 1.0, according to Berners-Lee, could be considered a “read-only website“. In other words, the early web allowed users to search for information and read it. It was the easiest way to interact between the user and the content. Web 1.0 was an era where Netscape used to be the only simple browser for a long time.
Web 1.0 had static pages edited by the site owner. Websites typically had promotional contents that just blinked (banner ads). It was like reading a noticeboard. Users’ opinions didn’t matter. The Internet didn’t have a lot of data to share. The responsibility for the storage or possession of data was attributed to the owners of the website.
Disadvantages of Web 1.0
The main disadvantages of Web 1.0 include :
- Websites were in a “read-only” format and hence the flow of information was one-sided (site creator->user)
- Users were in danger of stumbling upon cyber attackers because of the computer illiteracy of the masses and lack of sufficient security/privacy
- Average users mostly had painfully slow internet connections, and furthermore, the internet itself was limited to certain places which meant its benefits were not far reaching
- Lack of dynamic web browsers to effectively interact with information fetched by the internet
- An encyclopedia from a nearby library was considered far more resourceful
Web 2.0 : Era of Interactive Web
The second and current generation of the WWW – Web 2.0 can be associated with the era of interactive websites. It enabled users to contribute information online through web communities, social networks, etc. Web 2.0 is a more dynamic and interactive online infrastructure. The ability to change content and interact with other web users have sharply changed the utility of the internet in a short time. The aim of creating Web 2.0 was to create an improved form of the WWW. Useful services like blogs, wikis, podcasts, social networks, web APIs and web services (such as Netflix, eBay and Gmail) showed significant benefits over conventional Web 1.0 sites. And that’s the most important advantage of Web 2.0 over Web 1.0. Interaction has become two-way (read-write).
This led to a multitude of services and products. Major technology corporations offered the infrastructure (servers) to store the data. Ownership of the data (our data) belonged to the large tech giants. These companies started selling our data for profit. The buyer, or rather the ‘owner’, of data from such organizations could easily find out what we liked or disliked.
For example, you search for a pen on a search engine, following which you go on to access social media or any other websites from that particular search engine, it is likely you will end up seeing promotions of different types of pens on various social channels (targeted advertising). The user has become a commodity. Tech giants manipulate and abuse our data so we spend more time online resulting in burgeoning profit for them.
Disadvantages of Web 2.0
1) The content has an owner, but it’s not the author : Service creators own everything a user says, posts and does (profile data, publications, link clicks). These centralized market giants can sell all the information to advertisers to keep stimulating their ecosystem for growth and market dominance.
2) Censorship and monopoly : Almost 90% of sites are in the hands of only four large enterprises controlling data centers, which promote popular services like : social media, hospitality industry, entertainment industry among others. They also empowered themselves with unilateral power to shut down your access to platforms they are competing against or having a different political opinion. To be fair, most of such shutdowns took place at the order of autocratic governments across the world. But remember such governments only had their way because centralized organizations had the ‘power’ to shut it all down whether they liked it or not.
3) Bullying : Bullying existed long before the advent of the online world. But it became a pop culture thanks to the web that enables to and fro interactions without adequate proactive and reactive measures to restrict bullying and shaming others. Since people are arguing and cursing at each other from their homes sitting behind their computers, they consciously or subconsciously tend to spread hatred and vileness recklessly. We obviously need to do better here as a society.
4) Conscious/Subconscious Bias in Work Life : Although this has been the case since at least the industrial revolution, this is more relevant in today’s world. Like the internet, corporatism as an organized concept, has led to enriching the lives of hundreds of millions who were promoted to higher rungs of the society over time. Except for a few who are lucky to get a job of their preference, most people find jobs that they simply can’t love enough which eventually turn into excessive stress and emotional anxiety. Central to this problem is in the process of an employee going through his/her official tenure. It would not be unfair to say that a centralized board of directors and management has ruined the lives of many employees to say the least. They have all the privilege to incentivize some and discourage others. Loyalty at times speaks louder than action.
5) Threat of hacking : There are still threats to the security of our privacy. Contents stored on centralized servers provide the perfect environment for hackers. Billions of data “lie” in a few processing centers, as if it were a major bank with multiple entries. Nowadays you can get your neighbor’s credentials simply by hacking into their “smart” fridge. This may feel like I am exaggerating. (Keep in mind how often iCloud has been hacked.)
More than $100 billion is spent on global cybersecurity, and the annual damage that cybercrime can cause is estimated to be $10.5 trillion by the end of this decade. Of course, Web 1.0 and Web 2.0 have successfully improved the quality of life for many across the world, but it has also created many new problems, due to centralization (all decisions, all data are under one single authority).
We are the product. And many users who care about this are trying to graduate one level up further than the current Web 2.0. A big step… to make sure the world is not in the hands of 70k people influencing 7 billion people! 0.001% controlling the rest??
Web 3.0 : Decentralization Era
Web 3.0 is a decentralized Web (read/write/execute). Now, all the data processing and storage isn’t done by tech giants or a centralized authority, rather it’s done largely by unrelated computer machines. The identity and activities of the user is encrypted. Ownership of your data is spread across many machines across the world for processing and storage.
In exchange, the computer machine owners (commonly known as ‘nodes’ or ‘validators’) receive a reward which is typically a native network token, also known as ‘cryptocurrency’. It can be used for lending, borrowing and investing. It can be exchanged in a secondary market with others. You can launch your own project on networks using such tokens as transaction fees (remember in Web 3.0, you are not paying to a third party for setting up your services or products, it’s all automated mostly!). Further, it can also be converted to fiat so we can use the rewards in our existing Web 2.0 world.
Web 3.0 aims to distance itself from intrusive advertisements and unethical manipulations and abuse you for their growth. Well we don’t really have a “they” in Web 3.0 so to speak of. In fact, since there are no intermediaries (like tech giants), the revenue generated from using the network is distributed among all the users of the network on merit. This is why Web 3.0 is good in that it can reward/stimulate users for their time spent on the web and not vice-versa.
You might wonder how the web 3 projects would sustain itself if we remove most of the ways used to generate revenue traditionally. Depending on the capacity of networks, Web 3 projects/networks can earn close to $1 million daily. Over time, the network can sustain itself just with the transaction fees it will be collecting from users even if the fees will be a fraction of what we are used to paying, say, while remitting money to your family in your native country. At the moment, the implementation of Web 3.0 may look like an optional addition, but as soon as the level of awareness starts to increase among users – the implementation of Web 3.0 will become a necessity.
Mathematics, and Not Humans Will Be Market Makers
Web 3.0 – The Semantic Web, will allow computing machines to understand and interpret information instead of just aggregating data. The semantic network will greatly aid in the decision-making process of consumers by providing more relevant information removed from inorganic promotions. Web 3.0 is already disrupting the financial sector and the world’s banks are desperate to borrow Web 3 technologies like blockchain to compete with the largely automated cryptocurrency industry that, among its other utilities, have more or less same solutions as that of a bank. It will further improve industries such as: healthcare, logistics, SCM among many others. Web 3.0 is for all those seeking to improve data storage, security, privacy, operational excellence, transparency, confidence and innovation in existing processes.
How is Web 3.0 Better Than its Predecessors?
1) Decentralization : Data will no longer be stored on a single server, but will be distributed among users. The necessary computations will move from data centers to users’ laptops, smartphones and smart gadgets. Currently, there are evolving technologies to achieve this.
2) Artificial intelligence and machine learning : Intelligent algorithms will not disappear from the Web and in fact will be crucial to users searching and exchanging relevant content as mentioned before. AI, for instance, can be used to identify fake comments on popular websites leading to increased transparency.
3) Openness : The software and underlying codes will be mostly open source, which will allow for a thorough interpretation and dissemination of how the information architecture is structured and how they interact with each other/users. There will be a feedback loop created to analyze existing problems in a code and modify it with the help of consensus from the community.
4) Freedom : It is expected that censorship of the Web will be largely non-existent. Everyone will have the opportunity to publish any content and the role of moderation will be assumed by the community and/or AI. Take Twitter today. They can (at the request of governments and/or unilaterally) choose to censor anyone today. If you ask them, their intrinsic answer won’t be too far from – “it is up to you to stay on or leave the network”. But when you have a community working together for the sake of a project, the community can moderate discussions, debates and decisions. Any decisions made by the community is democratic here, right?
5) Ubiquity : Experts believe that in the era of Web 3.0, the Internet will be almost anywhere. The distributors will be IoT-devices and smart gadgets running on Web 3 technologies.
6) Semantic Web : A machine typically doesn`t understand natural languages accurately enough. Semantic web technology is planned to be used to improve this process. And it works like this: you can get information from the Web like «object – type of relationship – other object» and build logical connections using this data. By crossing machine learning with the blockchain-based semantic web, semantically independent data can be processed in a single learning-accessible form.
7) Simplicity: The way of authorization in services could change to the use of a unified account, which would be the key to all resources in the network. And when Web 3.0 evolves further with frictionless interoperability, this unified account can preserve the security and privacy while authenticating you to access multiple services from across multiple networks. For example, something similar is already implemented in Google services, but in the case of Web 3.0, a unified account can become both a wallet and a banking application minus any third party.
The third generation of the Web has a really promising concept. But with any new innovation, it takes time to evolve enough that masses can adopt it. For now, we just have to make do with what we have. Innovations are introduced at a fast pace so it won’t be too far-fetched to predict that ordinary users will get used to them in the near future. Switching to 3.0 also requires merging with existing online systems.
But here’s the thing: the process is already underway and it’s gaining speed of development and importance, like a snowball. Now it is time to take it one step further, isn’t it?
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Content/opinions expressed in this publication are those of the author(s). They do not necessarily purport to reflect the opinions or views of Shardeum Foundation.
About the Author(s) : wh1teаrm0r#6625 (discord) has BA in Linguistics and Translation Studies. Owner of blogs on Medium for the Russian-speaking audience and is interested in NFT and graphic design.