How Did It Start?
Web creator Tim Berners-Lee described its first version as a “read-only” network. This means that previously distributed content on radio or television could now be obtained from any computer connected to the Internet.
The era of static web pages downloaded from servers was far from the engaging content taken for granted today. Most Internet users at that time were delighted with the novelty of features such as email and real-time news search.
Web 1.0 was losing to Web 2.0 primarily by the degree of self-expression of users: compared to the second, the first one had little development. The primary user communication channels were various chat rooms, forums, and other public platforms. Of course, those who created personal websites had more means for self-expression, but this option was available to a select few.
What Is Web 2.0?
Web 2.0, today’s version of the Internet, was born in 2004. It should be understood that Web 2.0 is not a new standard; it is not a new format. Web 2.0 is just a designation of new trends, a new stage of the evolution of the Internet. It cannot be said that Web 2.0 came abruptly and replaced outdated sites. On the contrary, it results from constantly ongoing progress, their logical improvement.
Tim O’Reilly is considered to be the father of Web 2.0. It was he who put forward this term and characterized the new Internet as a place where content is free and is formed by users themselves.
Web 2.0 became a new round of the evolution of the Internet, thanks to which users gained freedom of expression and could publish their content. It is important to emphasize that the new Internet has become available to mobile phone users. Thanks to this, more powerful mobile devices have begun to appear, allowing users to access fast Internet and create engaging content. Thanks to this, Web 2.0 was quickly filled with social networks. The well-known Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Twitter, and other platforms have appeared.
Thanks to the explosive popularity of Web 2.0 platforms, companies like Facebook, Google, and Twitter have become market leaders and occupy one of the first places by market capitalization. These factors have become the main reasons for the centralization of the Internet. Today, leading companies such as Google or Facebook control all users’ data.
What Is Wrong with Web 2.0?
- The main drawback of Web 2.0 is the unreliability of data storage. A serious disadvantage of this system is that sensitive data is stored mainly on a server that is poorly protected from hacking — which means that the data is at risk of hacking and use by third parties. In particular, the user cannot be guaranteed the confidentiality of the personal data that he shares. Moreover, the owners of web resources pursue the interests of businesses by receiving this data from users. As a rule, they need personal data first to keep users on websites and encourage them to make purchases, including unplanned ones.
- The risk of personal data theft. As we mentioned above, it remains quite real. And centralized data storage contributes to this. A huge amount of data (by some estimates, several billion) is contained in several processing points. Such a storage system is similar to an institution with entrances from different sides of the building, but this does not change the very essence of the organization. In addition, to get the data, there is no need to hack the owner’s electronic wallet directly — it will be enough to “hack” his smartwatch.
- The next risk factor is that the site’s content is in charge not only by the one who creates it but also by the one who administers it. The persons involved in the content processing automatically become aware of the user’s activities — they see all the user’s posts, information about their profiles, statistics of movements on other links, etc. The creators and managers of the sites use these user data not only for their disposal but can also transfer them to third-party companies for further use for advertising purposes.
- It must be remembered that along with the development of communication, unlimited networking opportunities, and the chance to earn through digital content, the reverse side of this process also receives benefits. Namely, website owners primarily aim for personal gain at the users’ expense.
- Lack of competition and intensification of supervision. The vast majority of sites (except for about 10% of the total) are controlled by a limited number of suppliers. We are talking about Twitter, Airbnb, Facebook, and several others. This means that, under certain circumstances, they have the right to close or restrict access to sites whose actions they consider illegal. The states have the same powers. For example, the Chinese government has experienced blocking Wikipedia, Google, and Twitter — this decision was made to preserve the confidentiality of data that has increased secrecy nationwide.
What Is Web 3.0?
The concept of Web 3.0 and its prospects did not appear yesterday. This topic has been gaining momentum for several years, confirming its importance and necessity.
Web 3.0 is an updated Internet, presumably with the integration of blockchain technologies and decentralization tools. So far, we cannot say whether it will be a blockchain or blockchains or whether there will be something new. But here are the obvious advantages of these technologies and tools:
- Increasing privacy. The number of misuse and data leak cases is rising; therefore, privacy is a serious problem for people.
- Simple data exchange. Within Web 3.0, you will have a single profile that works well on different platforms. You will own a personal profile and all the data associated with it. You can do it without a problem whenever you want to share your data.
- Fewer intermediaries. One of the crucial benefits of Web 3.0 is fewer intermediaries. The decentralization of the network allows suppliers to communicate directly with consumers. This ensures no central authority will take your share of the profits via electronic transactions.
- Simplified access to information. Web 3.0 makes it easy to access information from any location and topic. Thus, the potential for obtaining unlimited valuable and rare information is provided. Regardless of the format of the data you are looking for on the Internet, you may be given personalized access to receive it.
- Content authors will be able to become their copyright holders. Within Web 1.0, only the website owner can add something to his page. On Web 2.0, there is an option to create something of your own (for example, publications on Twitter). At the same time, everything the user does on the site is managed directly by the platform: posts that are stored in its database and actions that become the basis for further advertising sales. For example, if Twitter worked on the blockchain, all publications would be the author’s property. In this case, the algorithm would look like this:
- A conditional user Andrew registers on a social network by linking his crypto wallet to his account.
- After each tweet of Andrew, the system creates a file and places it in a decentralized system like IPFS.
- Simultaneously, a unique NFT token associated with this file is generated, placed on the Twitter blockchain, and transferred to Andrew’s wallet.
- After that, Andrew becomes the rightful owner of the publication. Then he can sell it for fungible currency — for example, ETH.
- Thanks to smart contracts technology, the blockchain will automatically check whether both “wallets fulfil the terms of the transaction,” and only after that will it complete the transaction. So, for example, if Andrew, as promised to conditional James, transferred his NFT, he is assigned a previously agreed reward.
- Decentralized organizations. Any company can be represented as a network of interested parties. It is obvious that each of the parties participates in the process on certain conditions:
- If the employee has completed the work, he has received a salary.
- If the borrower meets the bank’s requirements, he gets a loan.
- If an investor sponsors a company, it means that he receives one or another benefit from it.
- If the customer received the service, the company received the payment.
All these conditions can be prescribed as smart contracts in the blockchain while excluding intermediary managers. And having formed a decentralized autonomous organization (DAO), it is possible to distribute management rights in the form of native tokens among participants. Depending on their number, it will be determined which decisions a person can influence and which ones cannot.
- Economy without intermediaries. Decentralized finance, or DeFi, is a kind of crypto Wall Street. Such services allow you to invest in the currency, change it, provide loans, and borrow. The advantage is that bankers are no longer required to make transactions, reducing costs and eliminating bias.
Currently, there is a transition from a closed and centralized Web 2.0 to an open Web 3.0, which users mainly manage, and not by large companies. Web 3.0 has become the first stage of the Internet’s development, in which we can monetize our activities and interact at a new level without intermediaries.