What Is Web3? The Internet’s Next Chapter is Here

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Updated: 18th Sep 2021
Written by Steven White
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September 18, 2021
Written by Steven White

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At the moment, you are using the modern web to access this content. This iteration of the web that you are using is often referred to as Web 2.0.

As technological innovations continue to advance, we will eventually see a revolution in how the web works. This new version of the web is called Web 3.0 (Web3) by industry experts.

If you are curious about what Web3 is and what value it will bring to the world, everything you need to know is here.

What Is Web3?

The phrase Web 2.0 was coined by thought leaders in the computer science industry between 1999 and 2004.

The term was used to delineate the differences between the original use cases of the internet versus the modern internet we use today.

The former model for the internet revolved around information consumption through static desktop web pages. Today, Web 2.0 allows for highly interactive experiences that are far more immersive and engaging.

As Web 2.0 has continued to evolve, we’ve seen new layers of the web come into play. Now, mobile, social, and cloud web services are the key players in terms of innovation.

Web3.0 will fundamentally change the way humans interact with the internet. Our relationships with our data and content will be dramatically different.

Digitation and decentralization will accelerate in a Web3 world. Things like decentralized finance (DeFi), non-fungible tokens (NFTs), and decentralized autonomous organizations (DAOs) will replace their Web 2.0 counterparts.

Open and permissionless networks will become the norm. Entire business models will flip and empower the individual in previously unimaginable ways.

Web3 paves the way for an actualized metaverse. Not sure what that means? Keep reading.

How Does Web3 Work?

Web 3.0 networks will use decentralized protocols to operate. These protocols are the building blocks of both blockchain and cryptocurrency technologies.

Much like blockchain and cryptocurrency, Web3 networks are expected to be interoperable and automated using smart contracts.

It should also be possible to seamlessly integrate these systems, especially with blockchain technology becoming more prevalent.

This new networking option will come as the result of the older generation of web tools being modified, and at times, completely replaced.

With cutting-edge technologies like artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), and blockchain, the interconnectivity of internet users will reach new heights.

Evolution of the Internet

The internet has had several iterations. Let’s take a deep dive into each version: the past, present, and future.

Web 1.0 (1989-2005)

Web 1.0, or the Static Web, was the first version of the internet. It relied on static web pages to deliver limited information, and users had few options for online interactions. Sure, you could read a blog post, but leaving a comment? That was unheard of.

Web 1.0 also didn’t have any of the fancy bells and whistles that we’ve grown accustomed to today. There were no algorithms yet to help users find the content they were looking for via search.

This made it incredibly hard to find relevant information without some direction. Sure, there were directories to help make navigating the web a bit more streamlined, but Web 1.0 was effectively a one-way road that offered few options for the standard user.

Web 2.0 (2005-present)

Web 2.0, sometimes referred to as the Social Web is the internet version we’ve become dependent on today.

Innovations in the web development space allowed content creators to produce far more interactive and engaging websites.

Languages like Javascript, HTML5, and CSS3 all enabled people to create large-scale interactive online communities. Some examples include YouTube, Facebook, Wikipedia, and more.

There have been three major advancements that were brought forth by Web 2.0. We mentioned them in a previous section. The first is mobile.

Mobile interactions made it possible to communicate online from anywhere in the world. When people can be reached at any point of the day, developers have a strong incentive to produce Web platforms that work in this way. They can spread their messages or garner attention as often as need be.

Cloud computing is another aspect of the web that has exploded recently. If you don’t know, cloud computing involves the on-demand delivery of IT resources over the internet.

Through Web 2.0, large files and software platforms can be hosted via the cloud. People can even store an unlimited amount of data at reasonable costs through the cloud. This has opened up many doors for the communication and distribution of content.

Social media is the final layer of Web 2.0. This isn’t limited specifically to social media networks, though they are the primary contributor to this segment of the web.

Social media involves any Web platform that allows for regular communication between a community of individuals.

Social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter should come to mind when you think about Web 2.0.

Web 3.0

This new networking option will come as the result of the traditional generation of web tools being modified or replaced altogether.

The interconnectivity of internet users will reach new heights thanks to cutting-edge technologies like AI, ML, blockchain, and augmented and virtual reality. The amalgamation of these technologies will unlock the metaverse or the immersive convergence of the physical and digital worlds.

With Web3, intelligent AI systems will run smart programs that assist users in their online activities. These smart programs will allow Web3 to automatically interface with various systems, people, and devices.

The development of creative content and high-level decision-making will be performed jointly by humans and machines. Communication between the two will improve.

The Internet of Things (IoT) will be another component of Web3 that makes internet access possible for people who don’t have smartphones and computers. As new smart devices are developed, people will have more access than ever.

Some believe that Web3 will bridge the gap between physical and digital by creating VR worlds.

Rather than just looking at a screen, you could be inside a VR world space and engage with others and content. This might not happen for some time, but it’s coming.

Companies like Roblox, Snapchat, and Zoom show the early potential of Web3 apps.

Who Invented Web 3?

Tim Berners-Lee coined the term Semantic Web. He is also the inventor of the World Wide Web and director of the World Wide Web Consortium.

This organization oversees the development of Web3 standards. His objective is to develop a web of data that can be processed directly and indirectly by machines with minimal human interaction.

Differences Between Web 2.0 and Web 3.0

Web 3.0 brings Web 2.0 to life and enables computers in a way the latter currently does not. For example, a computer in Web3 will be able to store and exchange value on its own, without a human giving it instructions.

For every Web2 app, there’s a Web3 version. Jarrod Dicker provides some examples of this on his Twitter.

  • Earn to Play turns into Play to Earn
  • Paying Talent turns into Talent Paying
  • Monetizing an Audience turns into the Audience being Invested
  • Instead of Gaining Followers, Followers Gain
  • Instead of a Bank Account, your Account is your Bank

Semantic metadata will also be used by content management platforms and search algorithms. This metadata will improve the user experience by allowing them to perform incredibly optimized searches.

Ubiquity is another thing that will change with the onset of Web3. Content will be accessible any and everywhere.

That means every device is connected to the web in some way, making it possible to use Web services no matter where you are. This is unlike Web 2.0, which relies on accessibility to mobile phones, computers, and tablets.

What Are the Advantages of Web3?

  • Expanded interconnectivity amongst Web users
  • High proficiency
  • Improved human collaboration
  • More secure than Web 2.0
  • Easier to find relevant content
  • Accurate search results
  • Higher quality graphics

What Are the Disadvantages of Web3?

  • Some gadgets won’t be advanced enough to use Web3
  • User information may be hard to secure on decentralized platforms
  • People may become web reliant
  • Privacy policies will be required for many platforms
  • Complex and difficult to understand for non-savvy users

Is Web3 Safe to Use?

Web3 will introduce a new set of security challenges.

For current Web3 transactions, any tampering done to your transaction will invalidate the transaction. Similar to cryptocurrency, a lot of the responsibility for security will be placed on the user.

As with blockchain, improper security practices could result in nefarious actors gaining access to all of your cryptocurrency. Similar rules will apply to Web3.

What Is a Web3 Browser?

A Web3 browser allows you to connect to and experience decentralized applications. Decentralized applications, or Dapps, are apps that exist on a P2P network of computers, such as the blockchain. They function similarly to regular applications, except they aren’t controlled by one authority. Instead, they are run by the users in most cases. Brave is an example of a browser well-positioned for Web3.

Is Web3 a Blockchain?

Web3 is not a blockchain, but the technology does leverage blockchains. You could say that blockchain is a component of Web3. In fact, blockchain technology could serve as the backbone of Web3.

Through the blockchain, a governance layer can be introduced on top of the current iteration of the internet.

Through this decentralized governance, people who may not trust one another can reach agreements over the internet without much verification.

How to Use Web3 Today

If you want to access Web3 today, Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Solana offer some access to the upcoming technology. Developers can create Dapps that are effectively a part of Web3, and other activities like Decentralized Finance are also on the table.

The creation of smart contracts falls into the category of Web3 activity as well.

Bottom Line: What Is Web3?

Web3 unlocks the full potential of the internet with the financialization of everything.

We will be able to exchange goods and services in the digital space. Digital economies will exist in cyberspace just like physical economies currently exist.

AI and ML have created unimaginable capabilities for the internet.

Web3 is already here. It’s just a crude version of it.

Steven White
Steven White
Steven White started his writing career producing content for higher education institutions. He worked frequently on content that was intended to encourage finance students to pursue Master's level education. After moving on from that position, he has also held editorial roles for online cryptocurrency publications, like The Daily Hodl.