Why the Web 3.0 Matters and you should know about it
Updated: Aug 5, 2022
There’s plenty of buzz around the web 3.0 and the sweeping changes it will bring to the industry, but few people actually know why it spawned and what it will bring. To understand this, it’s necessary to travel back in time and examine it predecessors, Web 1.0 & 2.0.
Just like the Middle Ages, the Web 1.0 wasn’t given its name until it bit the dust. The ‘World Wide Web’ as it was known, was just a set of static websites with a load of information and no interactive content. Connecting meant dialing up through rickety modems and blocking anyone in the house from using the phone. It was the web of AOL chat rooms and MSN messenger, of AltaVista and Ask Jeeves. It was maddeningly slow. Streaming videos and music? Forget it. Downloading a song would take at least a day.
And then there was 2.0
The memory of bleepy modems and boring interfaces has largely floated away. Faster internet speeds paved the way for interactive content, the web wasn’t about observing anymore, it was about participating. The global sharing of information spawned the age of ‘Social Media’. Youtube, Wikipedia, Flickr and Facebook gave voices to the voiceless and a means for like-minded communities to thrive.
Publishing this blog post will take me a hassle-free 30 seconds, an immeasurable improvement from when it took a concerted effort between designers, developers and administrators just to make a simple website edit. We could call this the Read-Write-Publish’ era — where the spread of information is as simple as those three words. So it begs the question, the web 2.0 is great, what went wrong?
Information is money
The UN estimated internet users increased from 738 million to 3.2 billion from 2000–2015. That’s an unfathomable amount of data floating around, and as big digital corporations realized, personal information is an enormously valuable asset. So began the mass stockpiling of data in centralized servers, with Amazon, Facebook and Twitter the biggest custodians. People sacrificed security for the convenience of these services; whether they knew it or not, their identities, browsing habits, searches and online shopping information was sold to the highest bidder.
The 3.0 revolution
By this stage, Web 2.0 exponents were already dreaming up a successor. The next web, they envisaged, would take nostalgic turn to the vision of the web 1.0: more ‘human’ and more privacy. Rather than concentrating the power (and data) in the hands of huge behemoths with questionable motives, it would be returned the rightful owners.
The vision of a fairer and more transparent web dates back to around 2006, but the tools and technologies weren’t available for it to materialize. Bitcoin was still three years off, bringing with it the notion of a distributed ledger, or blockchain, for peer-to-peer digital storage. Decentralization was the idea; blockchain was the means. Now we have what is described as human-centered internet.