What is Web 3.0 and why is it a game-changer?
Given the incredibly swift evolution of technology over the last couple of decades, it is unsurprising that an ever increasing amount of new gadgets and devices are both designed and released with every passing year. And while a certain group of society judges the pace of this progress by the physical representation of this technological development, there are also considerable changes constantly occurring in relation to the Internet.
The Web, as we all know it, is simultaneously evolving alongside technology in order to facilitate, accommodate and incorporate the ongoing progressive changes. Because of this, it has been subjected to multiple iterations in itself with each step being defined by different and innovative features and their implementation. Currently, 29 years after the Web was made available to the public back in 1993, could we potentially be on the verge of a new era? Have we finally reached the turning point that will allow the Internet to evolve to its next stage? However, if we want to find the answer to this question, we firstly need to examine the Web’s previous development instances.
What was the first iteration of the Internet?
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If you have never experienced this particular version, think of it as the modern-day Wikipedia composed of pages containing static text, links and images with no additional interactive features such as user profiles, any on-page actions or events and galleries amongst others. Commenting and post sharing were also a rare sight to behold, which is the reason why Web 1.0 is also referred to as the ‘read-only’ Web and users were regarded as consumers of the information that was presented on the pages. Additionally, the option of earning money through advertisements placed on a given online page was also non-existent.
Web 2.0 - the current stage in the evolution
This is the current version of the Web that we as users utilize daily. It suprasses the previous iteration by the incredible amount of user interaction and customization options that it provides users with, along with all of the different new and exciting functionalities and features. Moreover, if Web 1.0 was read-only, the current iteration can be defined as the ‘read-write Web, as it allows users to not only consume but also generate and produce their own information and content. The introduction of new technologies and languages has allowed the Internet to progress at an incredibly fast pace. However, while useful, Web 2.0 has also spawned a plethora of new problems, specifically in the field of privacy and security.
Large tech-giants have begun collecting personal data so that they can improve their products and services, with the intention of enticing users to continue to utilize them in an attempt to surpass their competition in terms of traffic, revenue generation and market shares. This, consequently, has made such issues related to privacy even more prevalent in our current-day society as companies are constantly absorbing data related to geographical location, interests, friends, families and even travel patterns. This data is then processed and in some instances sold to advertisers, providing them with the information they require to generate personalized ads specifically tailored for you. Consequently, this is why Web 2.0 is commonly described as the Web of targeted advertising.
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Furthemore, while this data collection process can positively impact the overall user experience, it also leads to the generation of the so-called ‘filter bubbles’, which are unique for every user. A filter bubble is basically the information that you are personally interested in. Based on that data and your search patterns, you are presented with information and results that companies and search engines believe you will be interested in. There are also other factors that determine the content of the filter bubbles such as your geographical location and spoken language. As a result, two people inputting the exact same search term, query or information can be presented with completely different results.
Will Web 3.0 be the future?
Web 3.0 in itself is a concept consisting of a number of independent little ideas. Therefore, no official definition exists and the time frame of its development is still unknown as it is yet to be completely introduced and implemented. In spite of that, however, there is plenty of information about the concept that is already available worldwide. Firstly, this instance of the World Wide Web will aim to support and achieve Web decentralization by utilizing the innovative blockchain technology. The main concept behind this particular iteration is to take power back from the technical giants and place it back into the hands of society.
Secondly, in this third installment, you will be regarded as the owner of your personal content and everything that you release or produce online, rather than being a consumer and just a temporary creator as it currently stands in Web 2.0. A very viable timely example is the current rise to prominence of the different types of non-fungible tokens (NFTs) that people create and completely sell the rights to.
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Additionally, once uploaded, a certain file, post or information will be stored inside of the blockchain, meaning that it cannot be forcefully removed or inadvertently taken down. The intention behind this is to promote online freedom. However, this inability to remove anything in particular has sparked quite the debate amongst the community as many illegal and potentially harmful materials could surface, which later on cannot be regulated and removed. As it stands, we are yet to be provided with a solution or any further information and this topic in conjunction with that of censorship will continue to be discussed in the future.
On the other hand, in relation to companies, Web 3.0 aims to completely remove the necessity for CEOs and presidents aiming to transfer power over to the shareholders of a given company. This process will see the conversion of traditional companies and conglomerates into Decentralized Autonomous Organizations, DAOs for short, where the stakeholders will be able to vote and operate the business based on the amount of shares they own. The shares themselves will be converted into designated tokens or specific cryptocurrencies. However, this consequently poses the question of whether control will be provided to the appropriate investors or whether wealthy individuals will take advantage of these tokens and cryptocurrencies and seize total control over the companies in question.
Furthermore, Web 3.0 will also aim to distinguish between an individual’s online and real-world identity, meaning that your actions, posts and information online will not be directly linked back to you. Again, this presents another issue related to security as the number of online crimes and identity theft cases could dramatically increase as a consequence of this anonymization process.
Evolution of the Web
When can we expect Web 3.0?
Overall, Web 3.0 aims to transform the entire process behind the cyberspace’s operations, ultimately ensuring that it becomes user-orientated and decentralized. At its core, its primary goals will be to promote and facilitate freedom as well as make sure that users are capable of having more control over their personal data and community contributions. And while the steady stream of ideas for this version is constantly ramping up, they still need to be polished and issues should be further addressed in order for this project and evolutionary step to be fully completed.