The internet has changed a lot since its inception back in early 1993. The very first website was nothing but a black screen with some green text on it. It’s a massive difference from what we see today; huge web pages with music, animations, and amazing graphics that all come together to create a cohesive experience for users.
But unless you follow the technical side of the internet, there’s a good chance that you don’t even know that we’re currently on the second version of the internet. Web 1.0 was the very first publicly-available version of the internet and dates back to the early 90s as well. It was largely made up of static web pages connected by hyperlinks, and there were a couple of pictures here and there.
Fast forward to 2004 and the term Web 2.0 was popularized. This version of the internet involved a lot more user-generated content and focused on creating virtual communities. This includes the introduction of social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace, and it also leads to web applications and the cloud-based apps that we use today.
Now almost 2 decades later, we finally have Web 3.0–the next big version of the internet. The term was first coined by Gavin Wood in 2014. Since then, it’s become a term for anything that has to do with the next generation of the internet and focuses on decentralized digital infrastructure.
But what exactly is Web 3.0, and how is it going to affect the rest of us that use the internet?
Web 3.0 is exciting, but it’s still early days
One of the biggest motivators for Web 3.0 is that it offers a decentralized digital infrastructure. While this might not sound interesting to the average web user, it’s actually an interesting concept that breaks how we use and understand the internet as it is now. Currently, Web 2.0 is controlled by large technology corporations that handle and maintain our data. Everything from our personal information to the content that we create is given to these large companies, and we trust them to look after everything for us.
However, this requires a serious amount of trust. Each year, we give these corporations more and more power because we’re handing over more data. Think of it this way; if a content creator on YouTube says something that Google doesn’t like, they can effectively censor them and cut their entire livelihood. In other words, we have little say or control over the things we make and the data we provide to these companies.
Specialists such as Eric Pulier encourage the decentralization of the internet because it means more control is given back to the public. By cutting back reliance on third-party intermediaries, it returns data back to its rightful owners and gives ownership to those that create it. Self-governing systems are a huge part of what makes Web 3.0 so exciting, but does it change much for the average user?
Most people don’t even know or care that companies such as Google and Facebook are hoarding data and using it to further optimize their marketing strategies. They also aren’t concerned when there’s a data breach because they don’t really understand the implications of having a bad actor control their data.
Because of this lack of understanding among most users, Web 3.0 isn’t as exciting as the content-rich upgrades that we saw at the beginning of Web 2.0.
So is Web 3.0 really worth all of the hype?
The internet has changed a lot over the years and the number of things that we can do with it has drastically increased over the years. There have been so many unique innovations that it can be hard to keep up with all of the technical developments. From a consumer’s point of view, the internet just keeps getting better and better, but Web 3.0 might not introduce as many unique and interesting changes for them as it does for developers.
At the end of the day, Web 3.0 is still largely theoretical. Although the term was initially coined almost a decade ago, it’s got a steep learning curve that most people won’t really understand if they just look into it. You need a deep understanding of blockchain and cryptocurrency technologies which currently don’t have a good reputation, especially among those who are conscious of the effect they both have on the environment. Overall, Web 3.0 is exciting for those in the know, but it won’t really change how many of us use the internet until those theories are applied.