What Is Web 3.0? The Future of the Internet
Web 3.0 is the latest Internet technology that leverages, machine learning, artificial intelligence, and blockchain to achieve real-world human communication. The icing on the cake is that web 3.0 not only allows individuals to own their data but they will be compensated for their time spent on the web.
In this article, we will discuss:
- What is Web 3.0 is
- The difference between web 1.0, web 2.0, and web 3.0
- Features and importance of web 3.0
- The connection between web 3.0 and blockchain
- How web 3.0 will impact digital marketing
- The future of the internet
Ready? Let’s begin!
What is Web 3.0
Web 3.0 (also known as web3) is the third iteration of the Internet that interconnects data in a decentralized way to deliver a faster and more personalized user experience. It is built using artificial intelligence, machine learning, and the semantic web, and uses the blockchain security system to keep your information safe and secure.
Decentralization, openness, and incredible user utility are the defining characteristics of web 3.0
The idea behind using the semantic web is that it understands and interprets the context and concept of the data. Therefore, when a user searches for an answer, web 3.0 delivers the most accurate and relevant result to the end-user.
Tech giants such as Google, Facebook, and Microsoft are some of the few companies currently making an enormous profit from user data. But when 3.0 will enable all of us to be compensated for our time and data: “People have been exploited by tech firms essentially. deceived into giving valuable data away with little or no compensation from the firms who collect and benefit from it. Instead, [with web3] people should be paid for the data they share”
This means that users will be able to sell their own data to advertisers while still retaining ownership and data policy. In addiction, web3 will enable websites and applications to use data more meaningfully and tailor the information to each user.
Hence, this third generation of the web is an Internet where you will enjoy personalized interactions with machines and websites in the same manner as when you communicate with any other human.
The key feature of Web 3.0
- Open — It’s ‘open’ in the sense that it’s made with open-source software developed by an open and available community of developers and accomplished in full view of the public.
- Trustless — The network offers freedom to users to interact publicly and privately without an intermediary exposing them to risks, hence “trustless” data.
- Permissionless — Anyone, including users and providers, can engage without the need for permission from a controlling organization.
- Ubiquitous — Web 3.0 will make the Internet available to all of us, at any time and from any location. At some point, Internet-connected devices will no longer be limited to computers and smartphones, as they are in web 2.0. Because of the IoT (Internet of Things), technology will enable the development of a multitude of new types of intelligent gadgets.
Difference Between Web 1.0, Web 2.0, and Web 3.0
Before we dive further into web 3.0, we need to understand how we got here — via web 1.0 and web 2.0.
Here’s the brief history of the Internet:
- Web 1.0 is a read-only web where people can read information written on websites.
- Web 2.0 is a read-write web where people can read and write content on websites and applications.
- Web 3.0 is a read-write-interact web (powered by artificial intelligence) where people can read, write and interact with content, including 3D graphics, on websites and apps.
Now, let’s learn a bit more about each part of the history of the Internet.
Web 1.0 (1989–2005)
Web 1.0 started in 1989 and remained active until 2005.
Sir Tim Berners-Lee invented the World Wide Web in 1989 while working at CERN (Conseil Européen pour la Recherche Nucléaire, or European Organization for Nuclear Research).
The primary technologies that comprised web 1.0 were:
- HTML (HyperText Markup Language)
- HTTP (HyperText Transfer Protocol)
- URL (Uniform Resource Locator)
The primary purpose of web 1.0 was to find information. Significantly, web users could not interact freely because it was “read-only,” so any discussion was done offline.
Furthermore, because there were no search engines available during this iteration, navigating the World Wide Web (WWW) was not nearly as simple as it is now. You needed to know the website address (URL) for any site you wanted to visit. As one tech writer recalls, to “browse” the Internet back in the day, “we had to go through FTP file directories screen by screen and hope that the file we wanted was in there somewhere.”
However, by the mid-1990s, Netscape Navigator emerged as the first (or at least first successful) web browser, and pioneered several browser features we still use today:
- Displaying a web page as it loads
- Using cookies to keep session information
Alas, Netscape was annihilated by Microsoft during what was known as the browser wars.
Web 2.0 (1999–2012)
However, it was later popularized by Tim O’Reilly and Dale Dougherty in late 2004.
This is the stage of the web that most of us are familiar with. By 1999, people were starting to be able to engage with each other on the Internet via social media platforms, content blogs, and other services. Eventually, smartphones were created and mobile computing was launched.
People began interacting online in discussion forums and creating content that other Internet users could access and like, comment on or share. This was/is the era of Instagram Influencers and Yelp reviewers and social proof. The read-only mode became outdated, and web 2.0 was now promoted as a platform for interaction.
Web 2.0, as defined by O’Reilly and others between 1999 and 2004, shifted the world away from static desktop web pages created for information usage via expensive servers and toward interactive encounters and user-created content.
Companies such as Uber, Airbnb, Facebook, and other social media platforms arose during the web 2.0 reign.
Web 2.0 Core Layers of Innovation
The emergence of web 2.0 was driven mainly by three core layers of innovation:
The iPhone’s introduction in 2007 spread mobile connectivity to the Internet, allowing users to be online at all times. On the other hand, web 2.0 serves another purpose other than simply receiving the information we add to the web: It also collects data from us all by itself to analyze and add to the web. It can track our whereabouts, purchasing habits, financial activities, and so forth.
Until the arrival of Friendster, MySpace, and later Facebook in 2004, the Internet was primarily dark and anonymous.
These social networks enticed users to engage in specific actions and content creation, including recommendations and referrals — from convincing us to share photos online with particular friend groups to entrusting our homes to unknown travelers on Airbnb and even getting into a stranger’s car with Uber.
The cloud commoditized the creation and upkeep of Internet sites and applications. New cloud providers consolidated and refined mass-produced individual computer hardware within several massive data centers located all over the world.
Companies were able to transition from purchasing and maintaining their own costly and specialized infrastructure upfront to renting warehouses, computation power and management tools on the go. Millions of entrepreneurs enjoyed low-cost resources that multiplied as their firms grew.
There’s no denying that the Internet became more valuable, participatory and integral to our lives throughout this period. However, this also resulted in the web becoming more centralized.
It facilitated increased collaboration by introducing new ways of organizing and connecting with others. However, it also created new chances for online stalking, cyberbullying, doxing, distributing false information, identity theft, and other forms of online harassment.
The Death of Web 2.0 and the Need for Web 3.0
Ultimately, Web 2.0 became more obsolete during the end of 2012, and people were starting to be aware of web 3.0.
Since most of the currently used services were dominated by behemoths such as Google, Facebook, Microsoft, and Amazon, it raised some complaints. Customers were given limited management over their data usage, and this raised numerous allegations against these multibillion-dollar corporations and numerous smaller businesses that abound on the Internet.
The blames states that businesses treat users unfairly, take advantage of their data, and put a serious threat on democracy and free speech.
Frances Haugen, a data designer, and scientist who worked as a product manager blew the whistle on Facebook’s misconduct.
In an interview with CBS, she recently accused the tech giant of ignoring the spread of hate and disinformation on its social media platforms:
“The thing I saw at Facebook over and over again was there were conflicts of interest between what was good for the public and what was good for Facebook. And Facebook, over and over again, chose to optimize for its interests, like making more money.”
That is why many blockchain specialists view web 3.0 as a safer version.
Web 3.0 (2006-ongoing)
In 2006, the term web 3.0 was coined by John Markoff, a reporter for The New York Times:
In many ways, web 3.0 is a return to Berners-Lee’s original Semantic Web concept, in which no central authority approval is required, and no central controlling node exists.
Layers of Web 3.0
Whereas web 2.0 was primarily driven by the introduction of mobile, social and cloud technologies, web 3.0 is powered by three new layers of technological innovation:
- edge computing
- artificial intelligence & machine learning
1) Edge Computing
While currently commoditized personal computer technology was modified in data centers in web 2.0, the shift to web 3.0 is moving the data center out to the edge (i.e. edge computing) and sometimes straight into our hands.
Data centers are complemented by an array of advanced computing resources distributed among phones, laptops, appliances, sensors and cars, which will produce and consume 160 times more data in 2025 than in 2010.
2) Decentralized Data Network
Decentralized data networks enable various data generators to sell or trade their data without losing ownership, risking privacy or relying on intermediaries. As a result, decentralized data networks will have a long list of data providers in the growing ‘data economy.’
For example, when you log in to an app using your email and password, or when you like a video or ask Alexa a question, all these activities are tracked and monitored by tech giants such as Google and Facebook to better target their advertisements.
However, in web 3.0, data is decentralized which means that users will own their data. Decentralized data networks enable various data generators to sell or trade their data without losing ownership, risking privacy or relying on intermediaries. It enables you to log in securely over the Internet without getting tracked by using Internet Identity.
3) Artificial Intelligence & Machine Learning
Artificial intelligence and machine learning algorithms have advanced to make valuable, and sometimes life-saving, predictions and acts.
When built on top of emerging decentralized data structures that provide access to a plethora of data that today’s tech titans desire, the possible applications extend far beyond targeted advertising into areas such as:
- precision materials
- medication creation
- climate modeling
Although web 2.0 has similar capabilities, it is still primarily human-based, allowing for corrupt behaviors such as biased product evaluations, rigged ratings, human errors, etc.
For example, Internet review services such as Trustpilot allow customers to leave feedback on any product or service. Unfortunately, a firm may pay a large group of people to write excellent evaluations for its products or services.
As a result, to deliver accurate data, the Internet needs AI to learn how to discriminate between the genuine and the fraudulent.
In simple terms, blockchain is one more layer of technology behind web 3.0. More specifically, blockchain is the foundation of web3, as it redefines the data structures in the backend of the semantic web.
Blockchain is a decentralized state machine that deploys intelligent contracts. These smart contracts define the logic of an application for web 3.0. So anyone who wishes to build a blockchain application needs to deploy their application code on the shared state machine. (More on web 3.0 and blockchain below.)
How Does Web 3.0 Work?
The idea behind web 3.0 is to make searches on the Internet much faster, easier, and more efficient to process even complex search sentences in no time.
In a web 2.0 application, a user has to interact with its frontend, which communicates to its backend, which further communicates with its database. The entire code is hosted on centralized servers, which are sent to users through an Internet browser.
Web 3.0 has neither centralized databases that store the application state nor a centralized web server where the backend logic resides. Instead, there is a blockchain to build apps on a decentralized state machine and maintained by anonymous nodes on the web.
The logic of your applications is defined in smart contracts, written by the developers, which are deployed onto the decentralized state machine:
Anyone willing to build a blockchain application deploys their code on this shared state machine. The front end remains almost the same as in web 2.0.
Here is a figure depicting the working of a web 3.0 application:
Web 3.0 Architecture
There are primarily four elements in the architecture that make up web 3.0:
- Ethereum Blockchain — These are globally accessible state machines maintained by a peer-to-peer network of nodes. Anyone in the world can access the state machine and write to it. Essentially, it is not owned by any single entity but, rather, collectively by everyone in the network. Users can write to the Ethereum Blockchain, but they can never update existing data.
- Smart Contracts — These are programs run on the Ethereum Blockchain. These are written by the app developers in high-level languages, such as Solidity or Vyper, to define the logic behind the state changes.
- Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM) — The purpose of these machines is to execute the logic defined in the smart contracts. They process the state changes taking place on the state machine.
- Front End — Like any other application, the front-end defines the UI logic. However, it also connects with smart contracts that define application logic.
Advantages of Web 3.0
Web 3.0 will make the web more intelligent, secure, and transparent, resulting in more efficient browsing and effective machine-human interaction.
Here are the top advantages of the semantic web or web 3.0:
1) Data Privacy and Control
The end-users will get the most significant advantage of data encryption to protect their information from disclosure.
The encryption will be unbreakable in any given circumstance. It will prevent large organizations like Google and Apple from controlling or using people’s personal information for their own interest.
Hence, users will gain complete ownership and privacy of their information.
2) Seamless Services
Decentralized data storage will ensure that the data is accessible to users in any circumstance. Users will get multiple backups, which benefits them even in the event of server failures.
Additionally, no entity or government organization will have the ability to stop any services or websites. Therefore, the possibility of account suspension and denial of distributed services will be reduced.
Regardless of which blockchain platform end-users use, they will track their data and inspect the code behind the platform.
Nonprofits develop the majority of blockchain platforms, which means they provide an open-source blockchain platform that allows open design and development processes. This will help eliminate the dependency of users on the organization that develops the platform.
4) Open Accessibility to Data
The data will be accessible from anywhere and from any device. The idea is to increase data collection and its accessibility to users worldwide by allowing smartphones and other connected devices to access data on the computer if synced.
Web 3.0 will further expand the scale of interaction, ranging from seamless payments to richer information flows to trusted data transfers. This will happen because web3 will enable us to interact with any machine without passing through fee-charging middlemen.
5) Restrictionless Platform
Since the blockchain network is accessible to all, users can create their own addresses or interact with the network.
Users cannot be restricted on this network based on their gender, income, geographical location or sociological factors. This feature will make it easier for users to transfer their assets or wealth anywhere across the world in no time.
6) Single Profile Creation
With web 3.0, users do not need to create individual personal profiles for different platforms. A single profile will work on any platform, and the user will have complete ownership of any given information.
Without users’ permission, no corporation can access their data or verify its accuracy. However, users have the choice to share their profiles and sell their data to advertisers or brands.
7) Enhanced Data Processing
Web 3.0 is beneficial for problem-solving and intensive knowledge creation tasks. It utilizes artificial intelligence to filter out valuable information from a huge quantity of data.
Users will also benefit from its ability to conduct client demand forecasting and personalized customer service, necessary for flourishing businesses.
Disadvantages of Web 3.0
There are also several challenges associated with the implementation of web 3.0. Personal data management and reputation management issues will become more critical than ever.
Here are the top challenges associated with the implementation and usage of web3:
1) Requires Advanced Devices
Less advanced computers won’t have the ability to provide the benefits of web 3.0. The devices’ features and characteristics will need to be extended to make the technology reachable to more people globally. Considering the present scenario, only a limited number of people will be able to access web 3.0.
2) Web 1.0 Websites Will Become Obsolete
If web 3.0 becomes full-fledged on the Internet, any websites based on web 1.0 technology will become obsolete. The old technology is incapable of updating its features to match the new ones. This means those sites will be substantially more outdated and consequently lose a competitive edge over new sites.
3) Not Ready for Widespread Adoption
Web3 technology is more intelligent, efficient and accessible. Yet, the technology is not entirely ready for widespread adoption. Much work is needed on technology advancement, privacy laws, and data use to satisfy the user’s needs.
4) Demand for Reputation Management Will Increase
With the easy availability of a user’s information and less anonymity through web 3.0, reputation management will become a matter of concern more than ever. In other words, brands and companies will need to maintain their name, reputation and image online.
Companies will need to help customers acquire critical market intelligence, valuable business insights, compelling content and cutting edge internet marketing to stay ahead of competitors. Hence, reputation management will turn out to be more critical than ever.
5) Complicated Functionality
Web 3.0 is a difficult-to-understand technology for any new user, which makes them hesitant to use it. It is a combination of older-generation web tools with cutting-edge technologies, such as AI and blockchain, as well the interconnection between users and increasing Internet usage.
This will mean that only advanced devices will be able to handle web 3.0, making it difficult for any individual or business that cannot afford such devices. Because it is technically sound users who will gain the most from this technology, the complicated nature of web 3.0 is likely to slow down its popularity at a global level.
Why Web 3.0 Is Important for the Future
Web 3.0 is a system for users, designed by users in the form of creator-driven platforms.
Here are the top reasons why web3 will become important in the coming years:
- Less reliance on centralized repositories: Web 3.0 will attempt to make the Internet a diverse source so that hackers, leaks and reliance on centralized repositories are avoided. Using verifiable data scarcity and tokenized digital assets, there will be the possibility of users owning their own data and digital footprints. No platform will be held accountable for data usage.
- More personalized interactions: Web 3.0 will become increasingly important in 2022, as most users continue to prioritize customized and individualized browsing encounters on the web.
- Better search assistance powered by AI: There will be an increasing demand for humanized digital search assistants that are far more intelligent, pervasive and powered by semantics, blockchain and AI.
- Reduced dependency on intermediaries: It will help disintermediate businesses, remove rent-seeking intermediaries, and give this value directly to the customers and providers in a network. Network users will work together to address previously hard-to-control problems by mutual ownership and governance of these new decentralized intelligence structures.
- Rise in peer-to-peer connectivity: Through new Internet inventions, the connection between members and organizations will remain innately robust to keep in line with more adaptive peer-peer interaction and governance. With peer-to-peer connectivity, humans, businesses and machines will be able to share more data while maintaining greater privacy and security.
- Enhanced trust: With the knowledge of the next Internet generation, we can reduce dependency on individual platforms to future-proof entrepreneurial and investment activity.
Examples of Web 3.0 in Real Life
Web 3.0 is already implemented in various areas, including virtual assistance, education, social networking, messaging, exchange services, browsing, etc.
For instance, while you’re sitting in the office, if you wish to check the availability of groceries in your home, you can ask your digital assistant to examine the contents of your fridge by communicating with the interconnected smart devices at your house.
Moreover, you can organize your holiday plan, business trip, weekend party, household tasks and even ensure your home security by using your ubiquitous Internet-connected devices at home. The virtual assistant’s personalized recommendations help you arrange the perfect weekend, from booking your tickets with a discount to finding exciting places to explore to reserving hotels.
Examples of Web 3.0 Applications
Here are some popular examples of web 3.0 applications that explain the scope of its adoption:
Siri is a perfect example of voice recognition software as a key component of web 3.0. Using this technology, Siri and other personal assistants communicate, share information (through linked blocks), and provide users with more helpful search results for every meaningful query, including how to, why, and what. Previously, Siri could accomplish only simple tasks, like reminders and directions to the local grocery store, by using pre-programmed algorithms.
Wolfram Alpha is a computational intelligence platform that now uses web3. The platform can compute answers of users from different fields like mathematics, nutrition and science. It quickly connects with other apps to gather information from their databases and streamlines the information for end-users. As a result, it is now faster and provides more accurate results than it used to be with web 2.0. Siri is a frequent user of Wolfram Alpha.
Steemit is a great example of web 3.0 social network websites. It is a decentralized reward platform that runs entirely on the Steem Blockchain social media model. It rewards content creators or bloggers with cryptocurrencies for contributing content on the site. This is precisely where web3 becomes vital as it helps the platform reward contributors’ cryptocurrencies in a secure environment.
Another example of a web 3.0 social network website is Sola. It is a decentralized social platform powered by distributed nodes, IPFS, and the Ethereum blockchain.
Unlike Steemit, Sola utilizes blockchain AI to build social networks and media hybrids. It incentivizes and benefits all involved parties, including users, third-party developers and the core team for viral content.
The website uses AI algorithms to filter in only good content to endorse and doesn’t rely only on user reaction to spread posts. Also, Sola pays users its internal virtual currency, known as Action Points, and users can spend it on their own content or for endorsing other users’ content.
IDEX is a renowned decentralized exchange for trading ERC-20 tokens that work on web 3.0. As IDEX is an Ethereum-based exchange, the user would need an Ethereum wallet to trade on the platform. Also, they would need to use MetaMask (a cryptocurrency wallet used to interact with the Ethereum blockchain) to get the best experience of IDEX.
e-Chat is a web 3.0 app that is powered by a decentralized blockchain. Essentially, it is a secure messenger, but it is also known as the fastest-growing social network. Users get the benefit of sharing any data without fearing its theft. Therefore, it is widely used to send cryptocurrency. App Store and Play Market have an e-Chat app for their users.
Decentralized storage is one of the primary features of web3, and Storj utilizes this feature wisely. It is one of the oldest and leading decentralized storage solutions, powered by blockchain technology that allows users to rent their free disk space.
Storj has a native token that is used as a payment method on the network. Users can earn based on the shared disk space paid for by the renters on the platform. The transaction is made on this platform through blockchain technology.
Everledger is an example of insurance and banking on web 3.0. This distributed digital global registry is designed to allow users to store their data digitally and access them anytime at their convenience while ensuring their data security. Since web 3.0 has a data encryption feature, Everledger can protect the data and minimize the risk of fraud to the users, banks, open marketplace, and insurers.
LBRY is a web 3.0 video and music website with a library of different forms of content, such as books, music and videos. The decentralized digital library uses blockchain technology to publish material and monetize it with its integrated payment system.
Ethlance is a web 3.0 remote job platform. The decentralized app works on top of the Ethereum blockchain, where anyone can hire and start working in exchange for Ether cryptocurrency, which was never possible with older technology.
Web 3.0 and Blockchain
Blockchain is often associated with web 3.0, and it can be difficult to understand they are the same or different.
In simple terms, blockchain is the technology (along with others like IoT and AI) behind web 3.0. More specifically, blockchain is the foundation of web3, as it redefines the data structures in the backend of the semantic web.
Blockchain, also called Ethereum blockchain, is a decentralized state machine that deploys intelligent contracts. These smart contracts define the logic of an application for web 3.0. So anyone who wishes to build a blockchain application needs to deploy their application code on the shared state machine.
All the application data and codes are stored and managed on the blockchain, and this is collectively owned and maintained by a peer-to-peer network of nodes. The rules of agreement between the peers in the network determine the state changes on the state machine or blockchain:
All data here are globally accessible, but the existing data cannot be edited or changed. Users can send files in a copy-protected way, hence enabling actual P2P transactions without intermediaries. This means files and data are encrypted before sharing and are fully secured on web 3.0.
When a user interacts with a web 3.0 app, it utilizes AI and machine language/natural language processing to process the queries and bring the required data or information straight from the blockchain that is accessible anywhere in the world.
Web 3.0 and Digital Marketing
Here are some of the ways that web 3.0 will have an impact on digital marketing:
- Less focus on keywords: In web 3.0, there will be less focus on keyword optimization. Instead of focusing on keywords, marketers must create multimedia content that understands users’ needs and queries.
- Reduction in “near me” queries: There will be a drastic decrease in “near me” queries because people know that the results will automatically be relevant to their location. Hence, they have stopped adding “near me” or zip codes to their search. Web 3.0 automatically considers the user’s geo-location and behavior data and shows relevant results that match their interest.
- Increase in voice search: Web 3.0 will lead to an increase in voice search, and people will start using digital assistants even more. Therefore, the key will be to optimize for more specific and long-tail queries.
- More significance on Microdata and of Schema: Understanding the data is more crucial on web 3.0. All marketers should embrace Microdata and Schema markup to stay ahead in the game as they help the web3 application understand the concept and context and structure the data. With a clear understanding, it will ensure that your content is shown to the user for relevant queries.
- Growth of question-keywords optimization, featured snippet optimization, and PAA (People Also Ask) section: Web 3.0 will increase question-keyword optimization, featured snippet optimization, and PAA optimization. Marketers must produce content that answers users’ questions accurately.
- Rise of hyper-personalized experiences: Web 3.0 will also replace the idea of old static websites with hyper-personalized experiences that change their messaging and their media formats for each visitor. Speaking with search engines in natural language and finding accurate information delivers a seamless user experience; the ability of web 3.0 to learn and think will emphasize this rich experience for users.
Web 3.0 and Metaverse
Metaverse is quite a buzzword since Facebook recently announced its new name ‘Meta’. The idea is to showcase that the company is moving fast towards a Metaverse. However, Metaverse is still not a reality, but soon could be the next evolution of the Internet.
Metaverse generally refers to shared virtual world environments or a computer-generated environment, which is accessible to users via the Internet. It is a digital space that is designed as more lifelike by using “extended reality,” the combination of augmented, virtual and mixed reality.
At the moment, people interact with each other through social media platforms or by using messaging applications. In the virtual space, users will have their own “character” that can walk around and interact with other users. They can communicate with one another through avatars, text messages, sounds, music videos, video games, etc.
This means that people will have a 3D experience on the Internet. They can interact, play, work, or join in digital environments as if they are experiencing it in reality rather than just watching the content.
The role of web 3. 0 is vital in making Metaverse a reality, specifically if it uses blockchain technology. In other words, web3 will enable the virtual world to exist online and be accessible through a web browser.
Presently, Metaverse is more associated with virtual gaming, but this is not limited to only games. The scope of the web 3.0 Metaverse is much broader that also includes the education industry. For example, in an education Metaverse, users can enter an immersive classroom and interact with their teacher and other students.
In the future, web 3.0 and Metaverse will together proliferate in all aspects of society.
Final Thoughts on Web 3.0
We are heading towards an Internet where people will have complete control over their data and privacy, and permit companies to use their data (or not). All this will be powered by blockchain.
Therefore, web 3.0 will accelerate the honest and transparent use of user data, from personalized search results to cross-platform development tools and the use of 3D graphics. The web will become more immersive and interactive.
The new Internet will be here soon! Let’s embrace web 3.0 with open arms.