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It appears that the internet is about to reach a new frontier, but for many people out there the concept of Web 3.0 remains wrapped in mystery. So, let’s find out what the future of the internet might look like and how it’s going to impact our lives.
There’s been a lot of talks lately about how tech giants are governing our lives by invading our privacy, using our data however they see fit, and keeping a tight grip on the economy. Often these discussions bring up the concept of Web 3.0 as a holy grail that is going to put an end to the dominance of the big tech companies like Google, Facebook, and Apple and hand greater control to users.
It's undeniable that the internet has changed the world we live in tremendously. From transportation and communication to healthcare, education, or entertainment, no field has remained untouched by its power. However, not enough is being said about how the world is having a transformative influence on the internet.
We’re used to thinking of the internet as this unwavering force that no one can control without realizing that it’s us, the users, who give the internet its power.
As technology continues to evolve, people’s needs and demands also change, and right now, the consensus is that the internet’s increasingly obvious flaws and vulnerabilities have to be addressed. And the way to address it points toward a new iteration of the world wide web that we’ve come to refer to as Web 3.0.
To know where you’re going, you have to understand where you’re coming from. So, before we jump into explaining what Web 3.0 and decentralization are all about, let’s first take a look back at how the internet evolved over the years.
The first version of the internet, referred to as Web 1.0, started in the early ‘90s and lasted roughly until 2005. Web 1.0 was a read-only web that was characterized by static content, and limited interactions between users. Web 1.0 functioned as a one-way highway, with developers creating pages using hypertext mark-up language (HTML) and users consuming the information that was provided to them.
Then Web 2.0 came along, the current version of the internet, and for many, the only version of the internet they’ve ever known. Web 2.0 is a read-write web where social networks, blogs, and user-generated content dominate the scene. Web 2.0 gives anyone the possibility to bring their contribution to how web pages are designed and used, thus ensuring greater usability and interactivity.
Web 2.0 comes with a much wider range of benefits than its predecessor, but there’s a dark side to it as well. The fact that the current version of the internet is based on the centralization and exploitation of user data gives rise to numerous concerns.
The risk of data breaches is prevalent in Web 2.0, users have very little control over how their data is stored and used, privacy issues are rampant and all the power lies in the hands of a few major companies and government institutions. Web 3.0 promises to address or eliminate these flaws and shortcomings by redesigning the way the Internet operates.
Web 3.0 has not yet become a reality but there are many signs indicating this new version of the internet might be just around the corner. So, what exactly is Web 3.0 and what does decentralization have to do with it?
As the name implies, decentralization refers to the transfer of control from a single central authority to multiple local authorities. In relation to the internet, decentralization means that end-users will be able to send and receive information from one another or perform different activities through peer-to-peer protocols, without the use of a central server, thus eliminating the middleman from the equation.
There are many use cases for decentralization, from Decentralized Autonomous Organizations (DAOs) to decentralized finance (Defi) or decentralized email services such as our own (Telios), and the best thing about them is that they’ve already become a reality. Decentralized email services allow users to securely send and receive end-to-end encrypted emails over a peer-to-peer network, ensuring complete control and ownership of their data.
Decentralization also lies at the core of Web 3.0, also known as the semantic web or the web of data. In Web 2.0, the version of the web that we’re currently using, data breaches are prevalent, despite the efforts to improve cybersecurity, and users’ control over the way their data is saved, used, or stored is little or non-existent.
Everything is in the hands of the government or the organizations and institutions in charge of the platforms and apps we’ve become familiar with. Web 3.0 aims to change all that by completely transforming the architecture of the internet through decentralization and shifting power from institutions and major companies to the end-user.
In Web 3.0, developers will no longer create apps that run on one server or store data in a central location. Instead, they’ll make use of blockchain, a decentralized public ledger that stores data across a distributed network, to build their apps.
Blockchain is also the underlying technology that cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum are based on. This will reduce the likelihood of government censorship, ensure privacy and security, and increase the number of services that are tailored to users’ demands.
Although the first steps toward building a decentralized internet have already been taken, it’s important to note that this technology is in its early stages, so there’s still some way to go until it will reach maturity. Also, it’s going to take a while for users to get familiarized with a new internet infrastructure and make the switch. We can’t say for sure when or how the transition will happen, but what we can say is that decentralization will change the internet as we know it.