“You don’t own ‘web 3.0’. The VCs and LPs do. It will never escape their incentives. It’s ultimately a centralised entity with a different label. Know what you are getting into”. – a tweet by Jack Dorsey.
“Has anyone seen web 3? I can’t find it”. – a tweet by Elon Musk.
As soon as these tweets surface on the internet Web 3.0 becomes a new sensation. Different mouths have different words, for some, it is a new-age internet, revolution underway, internet of the future while for some it is a scam, buzzword.
Can we consider this a change – a change in the internet, a change in the way usage of the internet, a change in the offerings of the internet or a change that history reminds us of? Just observe the internet when it was born and its gradually updated offerings and services to us. Is web3 a change in that direction? Or is it a change that may prove to be a boondoggle?
Obviously, So many questions and so many doubts!!
So, what exactly web3 is? Before talking about it, let’s talk about ‘the evolution of the web’.
Evolution of the Web.
The web that we use today has many phases and continuously evolved over years. Each evolution brings some changes with it. Today the internet and web stay at our fingertips but there was a time when it was in its nascent phase and people were sceptical about it. Tim Burners-Lee introduces ‘web’ to the world in 1989. Till then immense progress has been made about web and related technologies. Web1, Web2, and Web3 are the evolved phase of web.
Web 1.0 (roughly 1989-2004)
Web1, the first generation of web is defined as web of information connection. It is the first stage of World Wide Web’s evolution with a collection of links and homepages. It provides limited or very little interaction where consumer can exchange the information together but interaction with the website was not possible. Web1 witnesses a few numbers of content creators and most of them were used to be a developer who builds websites containing information in text or image format.
It is also considered as an era of static pages and content delivery only i.e. it allows its user to search for information and read them only. According to Tim Berners-Lee, Web1 is the “read-only web”. Actually, in one way during that period most website owners wanted to make their information available to everyone everywhere. And Web1 is the first step in this direction fulfilling the needs of the then internet demand.
Characteristics of Web1
- Static pages instead of dynamic HTML.
- Read-only content.
- Content is provided from the server’s filesystem rather than a relational database management system.
- No machinable contents. All contents can only be understood by human.
- The web master is solely responsible for updating users and managing the website content.
Web 2.0 (2004-present)
Web 2.0, the second generation of Web is also known as participative web and social web. It is the ‘read-write web’ because of its major properties like collaborative, participatory, and distributed practises that enable our daily activities along with professional activities on going on web. Web2 is actually a shift from static page era to information architecture, consumer interaction, and user-generated content era. Social media like Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp; Internet services like AirBnB, Uber, Amazon; Content creation platforms like TikTok are nothing but unlocking vast scope to utilise the available resources at their maximum.
Web2 is the current web that we use freely and proudly where almost everyone is a website designer, content creator which means it does not require a developer to create content. In other words, it brings more user interaction but less control. Isn’t it true that today, with Web2, the internet is capable of tracking our daily activities and recommending us by tracking our activities done on the internet? It won’t be wrong to say that Web2 is a better and evolved version of Web1 that brings flexible web design, updates, creative content creation, and improvement in the relationship with technologies.
- A platform with software not limited to a single device, for example, Wikipedia, blogs, podcasts, etc.
- Architecting the internet is a virtual communication and marketing platform, for example, the rise of internet-based industries and their success, social media, etc.
- Offers almost all users the same freedom to contribute.
- Interconnectivity and knowledge sharing between platforms across community boundaries are still limited.
- Ethical issues concerning build an usage of Web 2.0.
Web3 is the new iteration of World Wide Web based on blockchain technology. It obeys the principle of decentralisation, i.e. it will not be controlled by government and corporations like today’s internet, and follows the concept of token-based economics. The term Web3 was coined by Ethereum co-founder Gavin Wood in 2014 which is different than the term coined by the father of web Tim Berners-Lee in 1999 as semantic Web. According to Berners-Lee semantic web is a component of Web3 which is different than the web3 in crypto context.
To make it clearer, Web3 is considered as ‘read-write-own’ format of the web. It allows its user to be participants and shareholders rather than just being consumers or products. The user will not only use the platform to exchange data and information but participate in governance and operations protocols too. This will work through shares in the form of tokens and cryptocurrencies which allow its user to own the decentralised network called blockchain. This movement is certainly responsible for the rise of NFTs – Non-Fungible Tokens which are digitally available and digital collectibles.
|Twitter can censor any tweet or account||Tweet and account will be uncensorable because control is decentralised.|
|Payment services may decide to not allow payments or block certain types of activities.||Web3 payment apps will not require personal data and won’t restrict payments.|
|Once the server goes down it affects usage and work flow.||Server can’t go down because of decentralised network of 1000s computers as their backend.|
The difference suggests Web3 is that the upcoming generation of the internet where websites and apps will process information in a smart human way with the help of technologies like machine learning (ML), Big Data, decentralised ledger technology (DLT), etc.
What exactly is decentralised web?
Decentralised web is a concept that proposes reorganisation of the internet to remove centralised data hosting services using instead a peer-to-peer infrastructure. Ok, to make it simple, the services available on the internet these days are owned by either corporations and abided by the regulations or rules set up by governments. These services are either chargeable or free of cost as long as we abide by their rules and ask us to share a few details.
But the arrival of blockchain has introduced a new method of storing data and information online built on the concepts of encryption and distributed computing.
Encryption means the data stored on blockchain can only be accessed by the one who has permission to do so despite the storage platform belonging to someone else like government or corporation.
Distributing computing is another layer of protection. This means no person other than the one who owns and controls the data can make changes to it.
The technical infrastructure of Web3 is based on some more concepts like trustless, permissionless, and open-source software. Trustless in blockchain means interactions and transactions can take place directly between two parties. There is no need for third party involvement as in Web2. Permissionless means there is no need for third party to seek permission for transactions and interactions to take place.
Examples of Web3 applications
Opinions and Reviews
Jack Dorsey co-founder and former CEO of Twitter opined that Web3 is a ‘venture capitalists’ plaything and it will shift power from corporations to venture capital funds.
Liam Proven writing for The Register, concludes that Web3 is ‘a myth and a fairy story’.
Elon Musk, CEO Tesla is sceptial about Web3 in one of his tweets.
The New York Times reported that several investors are betting $27billion that “Web3 is the future of the internet”.
Anyways opinions and reviews are personal and differ from person to person. Arguments and debates are still open on Web3. For present internet, we have jurisdiction to take legal action against misinformation, hateful events, unlawful contents, online threats, etc but what about Web3 as they know no jurisdiction as of now? Decentralisation concept – what if it is not decentralised as it promises to be? What is the operational part of Web3 means will it follow a global network system or will it go for a central space which will housed for certain number of computers?
The Last Corner
Web3 is definitely a revolutionary web evolution based on the promises it makes. The world has mixed opinions about Web3 but its criticism overshadows its benefits. In the future, Web3 may be proved as a great evolution but as of now, it is full of challenges. Indeed, it promises stronger advantages over the present internet, this all depends on its implementation and effortlessly access to the remote people.