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Since its inception, the World Wide Web (aka the internet) has gone through many iterations, and has evolved to something completely different from when it was first introduced as Web1. This transformation is no surprise as newer technologies are now available and user preferences have changed over time. Web1 allowed for content consumption and simple interactions. Web2 enabled users to consume and create content. And now, Web3, the latest iteration of the internet, is envisioned to allow users to consume, create, and own their own content and data.
Evolution Of The Internet
To take note of all the improvements and upgrades of the Internet over the years is impossible. But, it can be divided into two major phases classified as Web1 and Web2.
The first iteration of the Internet was called Web1 or Web1.0. It was made up of static HTML pages that only displayed information online. It ran on a fully decentralized infrastructure, which allowed anyone to host a server, build applications and publish information on the internet without gatekeepers censoring them.
However, there were drawbacks to this initial iteration of the internet as users could not change information and had limited interaction with others who were using the same technology. The only way to communicate with other users was through chat, messengers, and forums; with this, many users of Web1 were merely observers and not participants.
In contrast to Web1, Web2 is a centralized, interactive platform that focuses on content creation, and has been dominated by large tech companies who have accumulated vast databases of user information.
The shift to Web2 occurred in the late 1990s, when the internet began to incorporate dynamic features such as databases, server-side processing, forms, and social media. This allowed for a more interactive user experience, and created a world of endless possibilities for content creators. Aspiring writers, photographers, and influencers could now easily create and showcase their work to a global audience!
Platforms such as WordPress and Tumblr offer people a place to create content, while social media giants like Facebook and Twitter allow users to connect with people from all over the world. In addition, the proliferation of smartphones and mobile internet access has also made it far easier for people to consume content.
Drawbacks Of Web2
Since the emergence of Web2, major tech companies have recognized the immense value of user data in maintaining their respective ecosystems. They leverage targeted advertising and inhibit communication across platforms to incentivize users to remain within their own services.
However, in recent times, ethical concerns surrounding data tracking, censorship, and ownership have become increasingly prominent among internet users. Curiously, user data appears to belong more to the Web2 companies than the users themselves! Unfair data control practices have led to account closures after users unknowingly violated platform-specific community guidelines.
To address these issues, some have proposed an alternative that combines the strengths of both Web1 and Web2: decentralization and user participation. While the precise contours of this model of the internet, called Web3, are yet to be fully defined, its fundamental concepts have taken shape.
Web3 Enters The Scene
Web3 represents the natural progression towards addressing the issues plaguing Web2. Through the use of peer-to-peer technologies such as blockchains, virtual reality, the Internet of Things (IoT) and open-source software, Web3 seeks to break down the dominance of large Web2 companies. By embracing decentralization, Web3 presents the opportunity for users to regain control over their content and the ownership of their data. By putting the power back into the hands of the users, Web3 offers the potential to create a more equitable and user-centric Internet.
Core Principles Of Web3
Web3 is defined by its core principles, each of which address the issues that have arisen in Web2. The foremost characteristic of Web3 is its decentralization, which aims to resolve the problem of centralization that plagues the current iteration of the Internet. With decentralization, data control would return to users and companies would have to pay to access it. The native crypto payments would be accessible to anyone, which eliminates the need for intermediaries in the traditional Web2 payment infrastructure.
Web3 is also permissionless, which means anyone can freely interact with others without any large entities controlling participation or prohibiting inter-platform communication. Additionally, the network that Web3 is based on would allow users to participate without trusting anything but the network itself, making it trustless.
Advantages Of Web3
Stronger Data Security
Centralized databases controlled by tech giants are particularly susceptible to data breaches, as hackers need only gain access to a single system to compromise large amounts of sensitive user data. However, with decentralized storage solutions that leverage the security and immutability of blockchain technology, private information can be more securely held and managed. By distributing data across a network of nodes, Web3 offers a more robust and secure approach to data management that reduces the risks associated with centralized data storage.
Absolute Data Ownership
Web3's emphasis on data ownership is a cornerstone of its mission, enabling users to reclaim sovereignty over their data and even explore monetization opportunities.
Control Over Truth
In a decentralized Web3, users can enjoy the freedom to express themselves without fear of unfair censorship. Unlike Web2, where centralized tech giants hold the power to control the narrative and erase specific content, Web3's distributed architecture ensures that no central authority can dictate what content is permissible. As a result, Web3 empowers users with a newfound ability to shape and influence conversations, leading to a more diverse and open exchange of ideas. Moreover, the benefits of Web3 go beyond free speech, paving the way for innovative solutions and exciting opportunities that were previously impossible.
Web3 has the potential to empower users in ways that Web1 and Web2 never could. With Web3, users will be able to consume, create, and own their content and data, giving them more control over their online presence. The blockchain technology underlying Web3 will also make it easier for users to access decentralized finance (DeFi) ecosystems and other tools that can help them achieve greater financial freedom. In this way, Web3 represents a major shift in the way people interact with the internet and with each other, paving the way for a more decentralized and democratic future.
Improve Social Interactions
Web3, like its predecessors, will evolve with emerging technologies such as virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR) and artificial intelligence (AI) to enhance digital experiences. These cutting-edge technologies could transform Web3 applications, enriching online social interactions and offering new opportunities for self-expression.
One such example is the metaverse, a virtual 3D universe that users can explore through avatars. With the metaverse and other immersive spaces, Web3 can provide users with a dynamic environment for online socialization, commerce, gaming, and even remote work. By integrating such technologies, Web3 could become the foundation for a more interconnected, intuitive, and immersive digital world.
The dichotomy between Web2 and Web3 is reminiscent of the longstanding argument between centralization and decentralization. While Web3 remains a theoretical concept, its potential to surpass Web2 has been subject to discussion. With decentralization at its core, Web3 presents a promising solution to the data-related issues that have plagued Web2, and provides users with the ability to assert control over their information.
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