What is Web 3?

What is Web 3?
Web 3 – also known as “Web3″ or “Web 3.0″ – is a term you may of heard thrown around a lot lately. It simply refers to the next iteration of the internet that promotes decentralized protocols and aims to reduce dependency on large tech companies like Youtube, Netflix and Amazon.

So far, we’ve experienced Web 1.0 and 2.0, and there’s much discussion of what to expect from Web 3.0. Web 1.0 provided a static experience for users without the ability to create the content-rich sites we have today. Web 2.0 brought us together with social media and dynamic websites, but at the cost of centralization.

Web 3.0 looks to give us control of our online information and also create a semantic web. This means that machines will easily read and process user-generated content. Blockchain will provide the power for decentralization, free digital identities with crypto wallets, and open digital economies.

Over the past twenty or so years, the Internet has changed dramatically. We’ve gone from Internet Relay Chat (IRC) to modern social media platforms. Basic digital payments to sophisticated online banking services. We’ve even experienced brand new, Internet-based technologies like crypto and blockchain. The Internet has become a vital part of human interactions and connectivity – and continues to evolve. So far, we’ve seen Web 1.0 and 2.0, but what exactly should we expect from Web 3.0? Let’s dive into the details and see what’s in store for us.

What is Web 3?

Web 3.0 (also known as Web3) is the next generation of Internet technology that heavily relies on machine learning, artificial intelligence (AI), and blockchain technology. The term was created by Gavin Wood, Polkadot’s founder and the co-founder of Ethereum. While Web 2.0 focuses on user-created content hosted on centralized websites, Web 3.0 will give users more control of their online data. 

The movement aims to create open, connected, intelligent websites and web apps with an improved machine-based understanding of data. Decentralization and digital economies also play an important role in Web 3.0, as they allow us to place value on the content created on the net. It’s also important to understand that Web 3.0 is a changing concept. There is no single definition, and its exact meaning can differ from person to person.

How does Web 3 work?

Web 3 aims to provide personalized and relevant information faster through the use of AI and advanced machine learning techniques. Smarter search algorithms and development in Big Data analytics will mean that machines can intuitively understand and recommend content. Web 3 will also focus on user-ownership of content and support for accessible digital economies.

Current websites typically display static information or user-driven content, like forums or social media. While this allows data to be published to the masses, it doesn’t cater to specific users’ needs. A website should tailor the information it provides to each user, similar to the dynamism of real-world human communication. With Web 2.0, once this information is online, users lose ownership and control.

Another key figure in the Web 3.0 concept is computer scientist Tim Berners-Lee, the World Wide Web inventor. He provided his idea of a web future in 1999:

I have a dream for the Web [in which computers] become capable of analyzing all the data on the Web – the content, links, and transactions between people and computers. A “Semantic Web,” which makes this possible, has yet to emerge, but when it does, the day-to-day mechanisms of trade, bureaucracy, and our daily lives will be handled by machines talking to machines.

Berners-Lee’s vision has since combined with Gavin Wood’s message. Here, an ocean of decentralized information will be available to websites and applications. They will understand and use that data meaningfully with individual users. Blockchain acts as a solution for managing this online identity, data, and ownership in a fair manner. 

Binance 10 - What is Web 3?

A brief history of the evolution of the web

Web 3.0 will be born out of a natural evolution of older-generation web tools combined with cutting-edge technologies like AI and blockchain, as well the interconnection between users and increasing internet usage. Apparently, Internet 3.0 is an upgrade to its precursors: web 1.0 and 2.0.

Web 1.0 (1989-2005)
Web 1.0, also called the Static Web, was the first and most reliable internet in the 1990s despite only offering access to limited information with little to no user interaction. Back in the day, creating user pages or even commenting on articles weren’t a thing.

Web 1.0 didn’t have algorithms to sift internet pages, which made it extremely hard for users to find relevant information. Simply put, it was like a one-way highway with a narrow footpath where content creation was done by a select few and information came mostly from directories.

Web 2.0 (2005-present)
The Social Web, or Web 2.0, made the internet a lot more interactive thanks to advancements in web technologies like Javascript, HTML5, CSS3, etc., which enabled startups to build interactive web platforms such as YouTube, Facebook, Wikipedia and many more.

This paved the way for both social networks and user-generated content production to flourish since data can now be distributed and shared between various platforms and applications.

The set of tools in this internet era was pioneered by a number of web innovators like the aforementioned Jeffrey Zeldman.

Web 3.0 (yet to come)
Web 3.0 is the next stage of the web evolution that would make the internet more intelligent or process information with near-human-like intelligence through the power of AI systems that could run smart programs to assist users.

Tim Berners-Lee had said that the Semantic Web is meant to “automatically” interface with systems, people and home devices. As such, content creation and decision-making processes will involve both humans and machines. This would enable the intelligent creation and distribution of highly-tailored content straight to every internet consumer. 

To see the main differences between Web 1.0, 2.0, and 3.0 at a glance, refer to our table below:

Web 1.0

Web 2.0

Web 3.0

Content

Passive interaction for the user

Community platforms and user-generated content

User-ownership for content creators

Technologies

HTML

Dynamic HTML, Javascript,

Blockchain, AI, machine learning

Virtual environments

None

Some basic 3D use

3D, VR, AR

Advertising

Obtrusive (banners, etc.)

Interactive 

Targeted based on user behavior

Data storage

Stored on individual websites’ servers

Owned by large tech giants

Distributed across users

Audience

Individual users

Specific communities of users 

Interconnected users across multiple platforms and devices

Key features of Web 3.0

Web 3.0 is still far from complete adoption, but its core concepts are mostly already defined. The four topics below are commonly listed as the most important aspects of the Web 3.0 future.

  • Semantic markup
    Over time, machines have improved at understanding the data and content humans create. However, there is still a long way to create a seamless experience where semantics are fully understood. For example, the use of the word “bad” can, in some cases, mean ‘good’. For a machine to understand this can be incredibly hard. However, with Big Data and more information to study, AI is beginning to understand better what we write on the web and present it intuitively.
  • Blockchain and cryptocurrencies
    Data ownership, online economies, and decentralization are essential aspects of Gavin-Wood’s Web3 future. We’ll cover the topic in more detail later on, but blockchain provides a tried and tested system to reach many of these goals. The power for anyone to tokenize assets, put information on-chain, and create a digital identity is a huge innovation that lends itself to Web 3.0.
  • 3D visualization and interaction presentation
    Put simply, the way the web looks will change hugely. We’re already seeing a move towards 3D environments that even incorporate virtual reality. The metaverse is one area pioneering these experiences, and we’re already familiar with socializing through 3D video games. The fields of UI and UX also work towards presenting information in more intuitive ways for web users.
  • Artificial intelligence
    Artificial intelligence is the key to turning human-created content into machine-readable data. We’re already familiar with customer service bots, but this is just the beginning. AI can both present data to us and sort it, making it a versatile tool for Web 3.0. Best of all, AI will learn and improve itself, reducing the work needed for human development in the future.

What makes Web 3.0 superior to its predecessors?

The combination of Web 3.0’s key features will lead to a variety of benefits in theory. Don’t forget that these will all depend on the success of the underlying technology:

  1. No central point of control – Since intermediaries are removed from the equation, they will no longer control user data. This freedom reduces the risk of censorship by governments or corporations and cuts down the effectiveness of Denial-of-Service (DoS) attacks.
  2. Increased information interconnectivity – As more products become connected to the Internet, larger data sets provide algorithms with more information to analyze. This can help them deliver more accurate information that accommodates the individual user’s specific needs.
  3. More efficient browsing – When using search engines, finding the best results have sometimes posed a challenge. However, they have become better at finding semantically-relevant results based on search context and metadata over the years. This results in a more convenient web browsing experience that can help anyone find the exact information they need with ease.
  4. Improved advertising and marketing – No one likes being bombarded with online ads. However, if the ads are relevant to your needs, they could be useful instead of being an annoyance. Web 3.0 aims to improve advertising by leveraging smarter AI systems and targeting specific audiences based on consumer data.
  5. Better customer support – Customer service is critical for a smooth user experience for websites and web applications. Due to the massive costs, though, many web services that become successful struggle to scale their customer service operations. Using more intelligent chatbots that can talk to multiple customers simultaneously, users can enjoy a superior experience when dealing with support agents.

How does crypto fit into Web 3.0?

Blockchain and crypto have great potential when it comes to Web 3.0. Decentralized networks successfully create incentives for more responsible data ownership, governance, and content creation. Some of its most relevant aspects for Web 3.0 include:

  1. Digital crypto wallets – Anyone can create a wallet that allows you to make transactions and acts as a digital identity. There’s no need to store your details or create an account with a centralized service provider. You have total control over your wallet, and often the same wallet can be used across multiple blockchains.
  2. Decentralization – The transparent spread of information and power across a vast collection of people is simple with blockchain. This is in contrast to Web 2.0, where large tech giants dominate huge areas of our online lives.
  3. Digital economies – The ability to own data on a blockchain and use decentralized transactions creates new digital economies. These allow us to easily value and trade online goods, services, and content without the need for banking or personal details. This openness helps improve access to financial services and empowers users to begin earning.
  4. Interoperability – On-chain DApps and data are increasingly becoming more compatible. Blockchains built using the Ethereum Virtual Machine can easily support each other’s DApps, wallets, and tokens. This helps improve the ubiquity needed for a connected Web 3.0 experience.

Web 3.0 use cases

A common requirement for a Web 3.0 application is the ability to digest large-scale information and turn it into factual knowledge and useful executions for users. With that being said, these applications are still at their early stages, which means that they have a lot of room for improvement and are a far cry from how Web 3.0 apps could potentially function.

Although Web 3.0 is still in development, we do have some examples that are already in use today:

Siri & Alexa virtual assistants
Both Apple’s Siri and Amazon’s Alexa offer virtual assistants that check many of the Web 3.0 boxes. AI and natural language processing help both services better understand human voice commands. The more people use Siri and Alexa, the more their AI improves its recommendations and interactions. This makes it a perfect example of a semantically intelligent web app that belongs in the Web 3.0 world.

Over the years, Apple’s voice-controlled AI assistant has grown more intelligent and has expanded its abilities since its first appearance in the iPhone 4S model. Siri uses speech recognition, along with artificial intelligence, to be able to perform complex and personalized commands.

Today, Siri and other AI assistants like Amazon’s Alexa and Samsung’s Bixby can understand requests such as “where is the nearest burger joint” or “book an appointment with Sasha Marshall at 8:00 am tomorrow” and immediately come up with the right information or action.

Wolfram Alpha
Wolfram Alpha is a “computational knowledge engine” that answers your questions directly by computation, as opposed to giving you a list of webpages like search engines do. If you want a practical comparison, search “england vs brazil” on both Wolfram Alpha and Google and see the difference.

Google gives the results of the World Cup even if you didn’t include “football” as a keyword, since it is the most popular search. Alpha, on the other hand, would give you a detailed comparison of the two countries, like you asked. That’s the key difference between Web 2.0 and 3.0.

Connected smart homes
One key feature of Web 3.0 is ubiquity. This means that we can access our data and online services across multiple devices. Systems that control your home’s heating, air conditioning, and other utilities can now do so in a smart and connected manner. Your smart home can tell when you leave, arrive, and how hot or cold you like your house. It can use this information, and more, to create a personalized experience. You can then access this service from your phone or other online devices, no matter where you are.

Closing Thoughts

The evolution of the Internet has been a long journey and will surely continue towards further iterations. The new internet will provide a more personal and customized browsing experience, a smarter and more human-like search assistant, and other decentralized benefits that are hoped will help to establish a more equitable web. This will be achieved by empowering each individual user to become a sovereign over their data, and creating a richer overall experience thanks to the myriad of innovations that is to come once it is in place.

When Web 3.0 inevitably arrives — as hard as it is to fathom considering how smart devices have already changed our behavioral patterns — the internet will become exponentially more integrated in our daily lives.

We will see nearly all of today’s normally offline machines, from home appliances like ovens, vacuums, and refrigerators to all types of transport become part of the IoT economy, interacting with its autonomous servers and decentralized applications (DApps), advancing new digital realms like blockchain and digital asset to power a myriad of new tech “miracles” for the 21st century.
Last updated Feb 20, 2022

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