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The internet is arguably the most important technology revolution in the history of humankind. In 2016, the UN General Assembly even passed a non-binding Resolution that declared internet access a human right. In this long-form article, we explore the history of the internet and the potential and future growth of Web3.0.
Web 1.0: A Promising Start
The Web 1.0 presented data and information in a predominantly static way, characterized by at best a limited readers’ interaction with the published content. For instance, readers cannot leave comments, edit, or create/ add to content of a website.
This interconnected computer system designed for scientists to share experiments was soon dominated by AOL, Compuserve, early Yahoo and other portals. These online service providers were the gateway to Web 1.0, where businesses, individuals and governments began to consume and occasionally post content.
Netscape launched its web browser in 1994, prompting the dot-com explosion, and the browser wars began.
On Web 1.0, the user is responsible for its own navigation and the identification of relevant content, having a predominantly passive role in the process. Only a few produce information that is consumed for many, e.g. the broadcasting model widely used in the media industry by TV, radio, newspapers, and magazines.
Web 2.0: Rise of Social Media Networks
Unlike Web 1.0 where “content creators were few with the vast majority of users simply acting as consumers of content“, Web 2.0 brought us the ” ‘Web as Platform,’ where software applications are built upon the Web as opposed to upon the desktop“.
This enabled mass of users to participate in content creation on social networks, blogs, sharing sites and more. Search engines and social media platforms driven by user-generated content disrupted the media, advertising, and retail industries. As a result, giant companies in retail and publishing that did not adapt have died or are struggling to stay alive.
- Web 2.0’s business model relies on user participation to create fresh content and profile data to be sold to third parties for marketing purposes. Indeed, the internet has become a massive app store, dominated by centralized apps from Google, Facebook and Amazon, where everyone is trying to build an audience, collect data and monetize that data through targeted advertising.
- Web 2.0 in contrast to Web 1.0 has its content predominantly generated by its users in a process where: many users produce content, and many consume. An example of this model is Wikipedia. Other examples of user-generated content platforms are in blogs, social networks, and YouTube.
- In the Web 2.0 users are no longer just content consumers; they become producers or co-producers of contents. In this version of the Web, search engines become more advanced and proliferate, since there is no more room for lists of links in directories, which has given a huge volume of content made by many.
Having said that, the internet did unfortunately go from decentralised (web1.0) to centralised (web2.0). And a centralised internet really sucks.
Here Comes Web3.0: Own the Internet
Web 3.0 vs The Metaverse
Evidently, the Web 3.0 is a digital place where we can produce content, share it, and formalize deals. Users will be able to interact with data through artificial intelligence and machine learning technology. This concept of Web3.0 is also often associated with that of the metaverse, which refers to a virtual space of the future that allows access to a wide range of entertainment and projects involving the entire spectrum of XR/ AR/VR or mobile augmentation of reality.
The OPEN Metaverse is indeed Web3.0- An internet with no gatekeepers and centralized entities. This form of internet is governed by a decentralized community of nodes that offer open, permissionless, censorship resistant access to users around the world to exchange value and information on their own terms. It is also an internet that is immersive and provides a way to digitally own & transfer data and content freely.
At the core of a successful metaverse realm is an exceptional, rich and engaged user experience on the internet. To get there, any form of Metaverses (closed or open) will require extra hardware, more intelligence, and a lot more time to achieve.
While web3.0 focuses on making the internet more intelligent, easily accessible, the metaverse is said to be like a virtual environment which one can be in and exist. The web 3.0 is being gradually introduced and built, and now we can finally own a piece of the internet via Non-fungible tokens (NFTs). We are just seeing the tip of the iceberg, of what is to come.
Web3.0 vs The Semantic Web
Interestingly, just 5 years ago, it was thought that the next generation of the internet would be the Semantic Web, a term used to describe a web whereby machines would process content in a humanlike way.
Yet, the Semantic Web did not materialize for a number of reasons.
- The primary reason was that the real AI technology, referred to as RDF (Resource Description Framework), was nearly impossible to implement. How can a machine know the difference between a jaguar (the animal) and a Jaguar (the car)? The only way to know the difference is to understand the context in which it is being described. Connecting concepts and building taxonomies for every word are monumentally difficult tasks.
Although we did not get to the semantic web afterall, Web 3.0 is in many ways a return to the core ideology of web 1.0, where “no permission is needed from a central authority to post anything, there is no central controlling node, and so no single point of failure, and no “kill switch”. The rise of technologies such as distributed ledgers and storage on blockchain will allow for data decentralization and create a transparent and secure environment, overtaking Web 2.0’s centralization, surveillance and exploitative advertising.
Decentralized infrastructure and application platforms will displace centralized tech giants, and individuals will be able to rightfully own their data. Indeed, one of the most significant implications of decentralization and blockchain technology is in the area of data ownership and compensation.
Few researchers foresaw that internet giants would dominate the web and become owners and profiteers of our data. The chronic interruptions that have become the norm in Web 2.0 will disappear as decentralization also makes possible transparent, opt-in, peer-to-peer communications that allow individuals to take ownership of their precious time.
Ethereum Protocol: Building Blocks to Web3.0
In the context of Ethereum, Web 3.0 refers to a platform of decentralized applications. These are applications that allow anyone to participate without monetizing their personal data.
Machines in Web 3.0 get along with users in content production and in decision-making, transforming traditional supportive role of the internet infrastructure to a protagonist entity in content/process generation. Furthermore, Web 3.0 services can unite users and computers for problem-solving and intensive knowledge creation tasks.
Therefore, with its large processing capacity, Web 3.0 is able to bring services and products to people and businesses with high added value because of their assertiveness and high customization. Its great virtue is the democratization of the capacity of action and knowledge, which was previously only accessible to large businesses and governments.
Players That Contribute To The Web3.0 Movement
Various forms of in-game purchases and microtransactions have become the norm for many games.
Free-to-play games that generate income from these revenue sources have also grown in popularity, but many gamers remain unconvinced. Now, thanks to developments in blockchain and novel software development kits (SDKs), developers can bring NFT-powered items and transactions into their games — even existing ones — for the first time. This stands to bring in a new era of gaming that benefits both developers and players alike.
In recent years, the rise of what is being termed Web 3.0 is beginning to change the landscape of the internet — and now gaming. Newer monetization models are emerging in the form of GameFi and P2E. Web 3.0 introduces blockchains, cryptocurrency and non-fungible tokens (NFTs) into the mix. Blockchains act as immutable ledgers that cryptographically record all transactions on the network, and in doing so, allow for the generation of NFTs. NFTs, in their most basic form, represent data that can be verified as unique from all other data and can be tied to nearly anything — including in-game items.
As such, every costume, avatar, plots of virtual land, or anything else in-game can be created as an NFT, which means they would be effectively unique, tangible, and retain value. They are interoperable, which means that they could be moved across multiple titles and even resold to other players on secondary markets.
This makes transactions less like throwing money into a black hole and a lot more like investing into appreciating assets.
The creator economy is booming; Big-Tech vs governments all over the world is a common phenomenon.From the early ‘Physical’, the world migrated to ‘Digital’ and now is looking on at the ‘Phygital’ age. While it might sound far-fetched, the proofs are undeniable.
The handful of companies that built “walled gardens” on top of open protocols Web 1.0 consisted of and came to represent Web 2.0 are now effectively the internet’s control centers. A business will be hard pressed to survive without playing by their rules.
Big Tech companies become the precursor of a coordinated push towards Web3.0, which can be seen as the return of power to people and communities.
Unlike traditional bootstrapped open-source projects, Web 3.0 startups tend to fund themselves with cryptocurrencies, using their own digital coins as incentives for participating in their distributed networks.
Leveraging on smart contracts, this model addresses the misalignment of monetary incentives open source suffers from today.
New, open and decentralized crypto exchanges, or “protocol treasuries,” which don’t belong to any person or company, have reached mind-boggling size. Daily trading volume on some of the largest ones easily surpasses a billion dollars.
Web 3.0: Where Do We Go From Here?
The changes to our everyday lives brought on by social networks, cloud computing, and mobile technology have been deep and long-lasting. Yet, we’re only standing at the very forefront of web3.0 and the metaverse- it is in the process of being built.
Artificial intelligence will disrupt labor markets, decentralization has the potential to restructure entire societies, and edge computing will literally put the power of supercomputers at our fingertips. Only time will tell how much these changes will impact the evolution of Web3.0 and our lives, yet we have not seen any technology that is radically disruptive…yet.
It is still not clear how long will it take to reach a fully functioning Web 3.0. We don’t know when A.I. will be ready enough to have all websites contain semantic data to help the Web 3.0 search engine. Yet one thing is certain – Web 3.0 will change our lives as the natural and virtual realities get increasingly blurred, and how we interact with each other.
In sum, Web 3.0 will bring us a more open and fair internet which empowers the individual. True sovereignty implies owning and being able to control who profits from one’s time and information. Web 3.0’s decentralized blockchain protocol will enable individuals to connect to an internet where they can own and be properly compensated for their time and data, eclipsing an exploitative and unjust web, where giant, centralized repositories are the only ones that own and profit from it.