Next Gen Internet – The Dawn of Web3

Updated: May 26

A new era of the internet is set to emerge. Piece by piece, this new online realm, and everything that is possible within it, will slowly become a part of our daily life. For the uninitiated, “Web 3.0” and “the decentralized web” are expressions which may have already begun showing up online. With 2021 elevating the blockchain industry to phenomenal heights, one can only expect to come across these terms with more frequency in the months and years to come – especially given the direct links which Web3 has with blockchain and decentralization.

But what exactly is Web3? And how does it differ from what we have today? In this piece, we aim to give a high level introduction to this topic – and let you decide whether or not its truly worth it to explore and understand this topic further.

The Beginnings of the Internet – Web1

In general, Web1 is the term that is commonly used to refer to the earliest versions of the internet. From its origins at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to the global network linking all of us today, Web1 was essentially the first version of the internet which we hold so dearly today.

For those old enough to remember, the Web1 online experience was rather tame (especially compared to today’s standards). Web1 websites were static – one dimensional, with little to no movement (save banner ads that flashed unflattering colors). No interaction with the web pages was really possible – people could only read what was available online.

For this alone, Web1 is referred to as the “read-only” web – summarizing the limitations and characteristics that this first version of the internet brought to the world (no wonder internet nay-sayers never thought it could amount to anything!).

Based on the description of this old version of the internet, we know that this period did not last long, and technology soon enabled us to transition from Web1 to Web2.

Like the majority of big changes in history, this was a gradual process. It is not possible to narrow down to a single day when Web1 transitioned to Web2 – as the evolution of the changes occurred over a period of time. However, it is generally accepted that Web2 generally reared its head around the year 2000, and from there, evolved into today’s version of the internet.

Web 2.0 – Not Read-Only Anymore!

Web2 is today’s internet, which almost no one can live without these days. Web2 has introduced to humanity some of our favorite applications – which with each subsequent year, we begin to view suspiciously.

Web2 moved the internet from a read-only digital world to one which can “read/write”. After Y2K, internet users slowly began to find that not only could they receive information online, but they could also send information to get even more targeted information that was helpful in their daily lives.

For example, in Web1, a user might have been able to find a map of their country online. Perhaps they were lucky and they could even find a map of the city which they lived in – which could be referenced when that person wanted to find out how to get from Point A and Point B. In Web2, users would discover Google Maps – a savior for those with no directional sense. Finally – no more reason to learn north, south, east, west. With nothing but a 3G/4G/5G signal, you could navigate your way home as long as your mobile device could connect to a cell tower.

With Maps, users enter the address for Point A, and for Point B, and instantly receive customized directions to navigate to the desired destination.

With this example alone, it is easy to see how dynamic the web has become since the days of static internet pages. Instead of only being able to absorb information, the internet has evolved to become interactive.

The Trouble with Web2

While Web2 has been amazing, users have begun to realize that data collected in this online world are centralizing into a handful of groups. The internet – once viewed as an online space owned by no one, has become a space where data and information reigns supreme, and where the owners of that information have control.

Many readers are aware that free services are not actually free – and that the expression “If you’re not paying for it, you’re not the customer, you’re the product” is true. Web2 giants like Google and Meta, among others, are among the prized few which own humanity’s data. Along with that data is our routines which they own – imagine a world where you cannot use Google or sign onto Facebook or its related products (WhatsApp, Instagram). It is almost unimaginable the disruption it would have on almost everyone’s life.

To be fair, companies are in business to make money. These companies are competing with others for page views and clicks. To optimize those, companies need to create the best experience for its customers, and that experience is built through acquiring a person’s data.

Because of this, tech goliaths have been gathering data of all types, analyzing it, and then leveraging it to provide an experience tailored toward an individual’s preferences. The results are obvious – compare the accounts of two individuals across their social media, content streaming, and other news-oriented platforms, and you will quickly see that none of them are “the same.” Each platform has optimized what is being displayed towards the known preferences of the user which it is serving.

As individuals increasingly enjoy their tailored experience, the company earns more money as the user regularly returns to replicate prior experiences. Eventually, the company packages up its data and makes even more money by selling it to third parties, who are after the same information for their own uses. This cycle repeats over and over again – preventing users from having any real control over their data. Herein lies the issue.

Should the internet continue like this, power will only increase in the hands of the few, and concentrate even further.

Web3 – No One Owns Anything, We All Own Our Own Thing

Web3 is also often referred to as the “Decentralized Web.” In Web3, data will be interconnected in a decentralized way. These connections are made possible through decentralized protocols, which are the foundations of blockchain and crypto.

In Web2 world, the central authority can often be viewed as the law – determining the validity of transactions, what can and cannot be done on a platform, and more. Did you ever want to send money to someone else but the bank was closed? The bank is the “law” – and you rely on it to do what you need.

In Web3 world, there is no central authority, and computerized code is the law. Want to transfer money to someone else? The network simply makes the determination of whether you have the funds to send, and ultimately approves a transfer of funds once the checks have been passed.

To the average internet user, things will likely continue to look the same. Apps will continue to work as they always have. However, behind the screens, the backend will look vastly different. Principally, no more centralized servers managed by the likes of Google, Meta, Twitter, and more.

If it’s not clear by now, Web3 is “built by people, for the people.” Its lack of centralization means that online control shifts to each individual, and that the data and privacy that goes along with it, can finally stay under the control of every person who experiences the Web3 economy. This, along with other factors, will unlock entirely new possibilities, level the playing field for everyone globally, and create a new form of value which is not even imaginable (or possible) on the internet today.