Web 1.0, or Web1, is a legacy concept on which our current Web 2.0 stands. The world is currently transitioning from Web2 and Web3, and many questions arise about what Web3 would look like.
While this article doesn’t go very in-depth about the Web origins and its first evolutionary phase, it outlines the fundamentals that established Web2 and the foundation of the upcoming Web3 - the future of the free and Semantic Web. The Semantic Web, sometimes known as Web 3.0, is an extension of the World Wide Web through standards set by the World Wide Web Consortium and aims to make Internet data machine-readable.
Note that this article uses terms like “Web 3.0” and “Web3” interchangeably.
The Internet as we know it today is largely based on Web 2.0. But what exactly is Web 2.0?
For many, it is the same thing as social media, and mainly Facebook, but this is not quite accurate. It is true that social media was a huge part of Web2's evolution. And to be more exact, Facebook was this era's most important contributor. Facebook created Messenger and provided the first globally adopted Web platform that allowed adding another application to the web, opening many possibilities for others to create and share content among peers. These innovations dynamically changed the face of the web environment. But Facebook is not Web2 by definition. Rather, Facebook and other media organizations were some of the first to capitalize on the underlying technology of Web2 - the infrastructure allowing the internet to act as a multi-layer platform on which applications can be built. They were the pioneers of Web2 but are not Web2, in the same way, Edison's light bulb was an innovation of electricity but is not electricity itself.
The Web 3.0 concept picks up where Web2 has started to stagnate. Its principal goal is to ameliorate the failings of Web2 (mainly in the areas of data protection and privacy) through the usage of blockchain and Zero-Knowledge-Proof (ZKP) technologies. Web3 is not intended to equate to the Ethereum network or a Web built on a particular blockchain, nor the MetaMask extension in your browser, even though they could be used as getaways to the land of new opportunity. It's true, however, that Web3 will mostly be about unlimited creation, enhanced by the possibility to shape your Web experience based on your preferences. Nevertheless, we shouldn't forget about the most important aspect of this upcoming era: sovereignty over your privacy and free will.
Enjoy the reading.
The Internet. That is what started the evolution of the World Wide Web (WWW), commonly known as the Web. The term internet encapsulates the use of physical wiring and network connectivity protocols to govern how computers communicate with each other. Conceived in the 60s and 70s as an academic and military project, the internet became available for commercial services in the 90s.
The word Web, about which you will be reading a lot in this article, comes from a metaphor of an interconnected (spider's) web, which reflects the Internet being used to display interconnected Web pages and applications in a Web browser.
Websites built during the Web1 era were very simple by today’s optics. They usually consisted of text and low-resolution images, since the internet connection speed was slow. A Web1 site was a read-only static website - meaning that webmasters published their content online, and users merely obtained information passively from the screen. There was not much a user could interact with; commonplace features by today’s standards - such as giving something a "like", uploading your own data, or leaving a comment - were rare back then.
Key Web1 traits:
Web2 increases the capabilities of Web1 with the asynchronous paradigm of letting the users query the web and the servers in simultaneous requests - which can in turn be answered with different delays without freezing the communication or lagging it. - JulioMoros (Sovryn)
All pages we interact with today are the product of Web 2.0. Let’s have a look at how Web2 differs from Web1:
Information from pages as with 1.0, but pages getting information from us too; these pages boasting enhanced functionality and better looks; all possible due to higher data throughput capabilities
The Web dominating all other media in terms of the quantity of available content
Instead of simple pages, which were hyperlinked to each other, we have web pages and programs linked together to form feature-rich and dynamic applications, usable across multiple devices
Finding information through keyword search and categorization of content, enhanced by users adding "tags" — short, usually one-word or two-word descriptions — to facilitate searching
The use of syndication technology, such as
Devices operating with information from a user, such as location, and adapting the web content based on it
Web consuming user data and providing content or services based on user needs, preferences, or just data collected about a user
Web user behavior tracking and follow-up suggestions
Free sorting of information that permits users to retrieve and classify the information collectively
Information flows between the site owner and site users by means of evaluation & online commenting
Developed APIs to allow self-usage, such as by a software application
More interactive advertising
Web2 has been progressively emerging since 2002, having been kick-started by the initial appearance of one of its key features - MSN Messenger, introduced in 1999 - getting popular about 2003. People who were born in the 70s and the 80s used it a lot! Soon after, in 2004, Facebook came along and reshaped our idea of social media and how a web system can perform as a building platform for embedded applications.
While Web 1.0 was mainly text and small images, the 2.0 version contains large videos and any other data that could be shared and circulated with high throughput. Web 2.0 is both a platform on which innovative technologies have been built and a space where users, from a Web developing perspective, are treated as first-class objects. Applications such as Internet banking, online shopping, Uber, Airbnb are all connected to Web2 and create a specific service on top of it.
The major jump from 1.0 to 2.0 was in communicating and responding using a website - originally in the form of a user leaving a comment at the bottom of an article. This innovation allowed readers for the first time to add their content inside of the page they were reading. It was also the first step for users to communicate with each other. In the second step, users were allowed to create personal profiles and upload their data to the Web. Lastly, they were able to create groups, interact with the content of others, and play a key role as sub-admins or moderators.
This dynamically interactive nature of Web2 is often described as the read-write web.
The 2.0 phase also ushered in an informational boom, in that you could search and find an answer to a question from various sources. Even though social media is frequently quoted as the definition of Web 2.0, it is just one part of the picture. A recent trend, driven by Facebook, is to view Web 2.0 as a platform that supports other applications. This is enabled by opening APIs and allowing users to add applications to their accounts and share some information, such as their socio-dynamic interactions, with the application.
In many ways, Web 2.0 became the era of blogging, forums, wikis, and social media, as evidenced by WordPress, Wikipedia, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc.
Perhaps more than anything else, however, Web2 also revolutionized the web browser “question and answer” interaction, which now provides suggestions for possible spendings, such as tips for restaurants or shopping. In addition, the seemingly ubiquitous targeted advertising is heavily affected by your online activities. For example, if you click “like” in a thread where people discuss a particular video game, you can expect that the same or similar content will get displayed in your social space too.
You may have noticed that the web commercials, products, and suggestions offered to you are different from those provided to a friend of yours. That’s because the Web collects information on your online activities, such as your spending behavior, and uses it to customize the content on the Web to match your liking. While the early versions of Web2 allowed you to shop for a specific item without capturing that interest from you individually, your particular behaviors have become the target of data collectors over recent years.
In somewhat simplified terms, unless you put significant effort into your online privacy measures, you are basically spied on by the Web.
And it is exactly this need for privacy while remaining free to use the various features of the Internet (expressing yourself in any form, using internet services, gaming, or simply consuming data) that is the key challenge a Web3 needs to resolve. Fans of blockchain technology may be starting to understand now, but others may not yet see the opportunities this technology provides. Before we can move to the final chapter of this article, we should become acquainted with the underlying technologies and site features of Web2.
Some of the paramount site features of Web2 include the following:
Key underlying technologies that started Web 2.0
2)Flash (created by Macromedia and now belongs to Adobe)
Flash objects can offer similar functionality in that once downloaded, they can communicate asynchronously with a server. Consequently, YouTube videos, for example, can begin playing before the whole movie has been received. The user downloads a compact flash object which downloads a small prefix of the video and begins playing it out, while asynchronously fetching the remainder of the video. Currently, Flash is mostly used for rendering rich embedded objects such as video, audio, and games.
So far, we have described a Web that is served to users purely from servers. Later then, these simple and static Web1 pages morph into an enhanced, dynamic, and faster version of itself with plenty of socials in Web2. However, no matter the performance or the ratio of technological amelioration, the Web2 servers have a centralized owner and, most of the time, a single point of failure database, which can be confiscated, stolen, misused, or shut down by a government.
the confiscated content can be used against users
social media sites own a copy of your personal data
centralized serves could be shut down at any time
a user can be banned with or without a cause at any time
In some countries, Facebook, Google, YouTube, and many other Web2 platforms are restricted completely.
In some countries, people are not allowed to have access to the internet.
To finish this part in a funny little tone, we have to mention the last perk that makes this spying Webspace even more frustrating: Every website, thanks to the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), throws a lot of cookies that you can't even eat on you all the time.
Now, is there a way out?
Servers must partially morph to public blockchains that thrive on the power of Zero-Knowledge-Proof (ZKP) technologies that make the web unstoppable.
Blockchain adoption is not just a phrase in 2022 but a real deal of today's development.
El Salvador is the first country to accept Bitcoin as an official currency
Texas is legalizing tax payments in Bitcoin.
It's already happening, but how is this possible?
Keep on reading the last section of this opus and don't miss the party.
To all libertarians, tech-savvy people, cyber-punks, and freedom fighters devoted ;).
The third phase of the Web’s evolution should enhance everything we know as Web2. This version will invite us into virtual-reality worlds, allowing us to attend a museum, concert, or foreign lands from the comfort of our own homes. We can push our creativity beyond current limitations, in a world where we can apply personalized settings and preferences to shape our reality. But, at least for some, these marvels are secondary to the privacy and security elements of Web3.
About creation in a Semantic Web…“In Web2, applications are designed to be interactable. But this interactability cannot be further defined by a user - except for a font used, color theme, or language. In contrast, imagine your own preferences shaping your web experience. Web 2 allowed us to have an immersive and interactable digital medium, in contrast to the read-only Web 1 applications. It allowed us to have a multi-decade-long era of engaging content designed to be giving a big amount of freedom to the users. Youtube, Facebook, Twitter, Amazon. All of these applications enriched or reshaped our lives in a way unimaginable for most people 20 years prior to the conception of the internet. Now, some 20+ years after Web2 came into full swing, we are toying with the thought of building out the internet once more. Web2 is designing applications to be interactable for the user by the developers, limited by their tools and internet borders. Now we can only imagine what can happen if Web 3 breaches these imaginary borders and gives Web3 a way to shape the internet experience individually for every user.”
***About sovereignty and freedom…***Web technologies that emerge from blockchain give the user strong and verifiable guarantees about the information they are receiving, what information they are giving away, why they are paying, and what they are receiving in return. The Web3 movement aims to create a decentralized web and enable all blockchains to communicate. It is an inclusive set of protocols that provides building blocks for application developers. These building blocks present a whole new way of creating applications. Consider Web 3.0 to be an executable Magna Carta - "The foundation of the individual's freedom against the arbitrary authority of the despot."
While Web2 has been described as the read-write Web, Web3 could be characterized as the read-write-trust Web. The trust is achieved by building verifiability in the core layer. This is accomplished by adding a blockchain into Web2, where the blockchain brings new possibilities in the same way Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies have enhanced the world of finance.
The use of proxies will be another focal point of development
Users‘ blockchain addresses (hexadecimal code) act as unique aliases since you can track them but you can not instantly match them to a certain person.
Web3 is a group of associated technologies aiming to make the Web and the internet more decentralized, verifiable, and secure. It aims to provide us with the ability to interact and create freely on the internet while using a proxy or ZKP to protect us in the digital space when our privacy or even life safety could be at stake.
Besides the ability of ZKP to enable users’ anonymity, ZKP has an even more powerful ace up its sleeve. It can process an unlimited amount of transactions with almost no delay and with very low fees. While the possibility of storing large amounts of data is beyond the current state of the art, ZK already allows transmissions of big data chunks anonymously and without a trace, no matter the location.
This technology was first used with the Lightning Network, a decentralized network using smart-contract functionality in the blockchain, which is
More and more decentralized applications, following the footsteps of Bitcoin, will run autonomously in the future without the need to be maintained by a certain party. Development and maintenance will still be needed, but this, again, could be taken care of by a free open-source community rather than a company under a CEO. This autonomousness is a very important property that no technology has had, and Bitcoin has this feature thanks to its very strong economic incentives.
The goals of Web3 include:
a) Build trustless infrastructure using smart contracts - For all the things you can try to do on the Web without being worried that a technical flaw or fraud will turn against you.
b) Remove intermediaries so that users can interact with each other globally.
c) Give users power and ownership over their data, identity, security, and transactions.
d) Grant censorship resistance - the ability to post any content with the certainty that it can not be removed ever by any authority (unless that authority bans the entire internet).
The Web3 movement includes:
Key Web3 aspects:
Another way to perceive Web3 is as an enhanced version of Web2 with additional blockchain features, such as NFTs, DeFi, and also the currently much-hyped buzzword, which has been around since a little after 1990 - the Metaverse. In Web3, blockchain addons such as MetaMask will be a standard tool that could act as a gateway to the above-mentioned realms. People will be able to:
From the point of searchability and the way search results return to a user from the user’s perspective, Web3 will not differ much from Web2.
In Web2, a user searches for an answer and obtains results that are most searched by other users. In the current iteration of Web 2, the results will also be filtered and ordered by your personal preferences or adjusted based on the information obtained from the tracking of your online presence and behavioral patterns. You can directly search the web using your voice in a car to find a Japanese restaurant in your vicinity that is currently open and has the highest possible user rating and that matches your preferences from the previous searches. A web search will find the nearest restaurant based on a location provided by your smartphone and order the searching result based on the information you provided in your profile or your history of orders. Then, the Web will ask you if you want to see a menu preview and read it for you. Potentially, it could even order a table.
However, the key difference between this late Web2 process and the process present in Web3 is anonymity. What that means is, for example, that you will be able to perform searches without letting anybody know about your identity, location, or anything else from your personal data set.
To compete right now with Google and their searches is beyond Web3 capabilities. But with Web3, it will be possible for a user to Google something, and neither Google nor anyone else will be able to tell where the search originated. This is especially valuable today given Google’s history of censorship - hiding or altering the ‘real’ rank of web pages it solely deems to be unsavory, whether that be under the pretense of ‘misinformation’ or ‘dangerous’... or simply because certain pages pose some sort of competition to Google or its partners.
So, as you can see, the challenge that Web 3.0 should solve for its older brother is the question of privacy on the internet.
TLDR - Because it guarantees anonymity.
As we’ve already mentioned, anytime we use a web service, we lose control and ownership of our data. This is because both sending and receiving data create a local copy on both machines. That's not only a privacy issue; it is also a huge issue in the back end of e-commerce operations along the supply chain of goods and services because document handling and data management along this back-end process are tedious, costly, and inefficient. When we send data over the internet, we lose control of what happens with the data since we cannot see behind the walled-off garden of the server that somebody else owns.
Blockchain introduces a completely novel way of saving and processing data while building on the idea of peer-to-peer (P2P) technologies that cut out the middle man. P2P technologies are not new, but the blockchain is taking them to a new level. With blockchain, all computers in the network of nodes have the same level of information, all data is transparent to every computer in the network, and privacy is guaranteed through cryptography. This way, users on the Web could benefit from data transparency while maintaining the privacy of all actors involved.
Blockchains are making this possible through new advances with Zero-Knowledge (ZK) technologies.
The acronym zk-SNARK stands for “Zero-Knowledge Succinct Non-Interactive Argument of Knowledge,” and refers to a proof construction where one can prove possession of certain information, e.g. a secret key, without revealing that information, and without any interaction between the prover and verifier.
In practice, ZKP can also work as a safeguard for democracy on the Web, since the key part of any democracy is the right to freely vote without being afraid of possible consequences. Having no option to hide your identity while being afraid to speak freely is a hallmark of tyranny. A true democracy should:
Keep your private voting decision secret
Verify that someone with a valid voting right has voted while not having access to the voter’s preference.
Ensure that the vote has the same value and weight as that of any other voter.
In some countries, this is still not possible, but it could be answered by the anticipated Web3 implementation of ZKP.
These technologies, implemented in Web3, will allow voting in an untraceable way that respects people's privacy and freedom.
Central concepts of data democracy in Web3:
The last point is something that some current Latin American and even European democracies lack.
**Example 1: Web3 on governance systems
Example 2: Budget distributionEven if the side you were voting for wins the election and your privacy is still respected, how sure can we be that the money the winners get will be used on the promises they made in their campaign? It is similar to a scenario in which you donate money to a charity, but then you don't have any leverage to ensure that this money will be used as expected. Smart contract-based governance systems can make sure that the money will be used only by the winning party and only to complete a certain promise/purpose.
That's exactly what smart contracts and governance systems look to address in the future.
Web3 is paving the way to the next evolutionary stage of the Web - a stage in which data monarchies are turned into data democracies, and one where much of the significance usurped by intermediaries and third parties returns to the common folk.
Only then can you exercise your own sovereignty - without being exploited, without being questioned, without being overseen.
Disclaimer*: This is just a personal opinion, not financial advice, not responsible for anything :)*
The definitions of Webs (1,2,3) are not strict; what is a strict Web definition for one may be just trespassing of virtual borders between two phases for another. Some don't try to fit the Web into categories based on technological milestones but just distinguish between what is new and upcoming from what is already deprecated or used as a standard.
Key points to remember:
Web1 - Users are consumers, content created by professionals
Web2 - Content provided by users, existing centralized Web
Web3 - Is still an evolving concept, but basically, it is all about decentralized distributed content and technologies that will have the following impact on the Web that will become: