What is Web 3.0?
The Internet has changed dramatically since its inception. From Internet Relay Chat (IRC) to modern social media, it has become a vital part of human interactions - and continues to evolve.
Web 3.0 is the next generation of Internet technology that heavily relies on the use of machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI). It aims to create more open, connected, and intelligent websites and web applications, which focus on using a machine-based understanding of data.
Current websites typically have static information or user-driven content, such as forums and social media. While this allows information to be published to a broad group of people, it may not cater to a specific user’s need. A website should be able to tailor the information it provides to each individual user, similar to the dynamism of real-world human communication.
Computer scientist Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the World Wide Web, explained this idea of a Semantic Web 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.
In Web 3.0, an ocean of information will be available to websites and applications, and they will be able to understand and use that data in a way that is meaningful to the individual user.
A brief history of the evolution of the Internet
Websites and web applications have changed dramatically over the last decades. They have evolved from static sites to data-driven sites that users can interact with and change.
The original Internet was based on what is now known as Web 1.0. The term was coined in 1999 by author and web designer Darci DiNucci, when distinguishing between Web 1.0 and Web 2.0. Back in the early 1990s, websites were built using static HTML pages that only had the ability to display information – there was no way for users to change the data.
That all changed during the late 1990s when the shift toward a more interactive Internet started taking form. With Web 2.0, users were able to interact with websites through the use of databases, server-side processing, forms, and social media.
When looking at the history of the Internet, the evolution of a more semantically intelligent web makes sense. Data was first statically presented to users. Then users could interact with that data dynamically. Now all of that data will be used by algorithms to improve user experience and make the Web more personalized and familiar.
Currently, many applications are limited to run only on one operating system. Web 3.0 could enable applications to be more device-agnostic, meaning they would be able to run on many different types of hardware and software without any added development costs.
Web 3.0 also aims to make the Internet more open and decentralized. In the current framework, users have to rely on network and cellular providers that surveil the information going through their systems. With the advent of distributed ledger technologies, that soon might change, and users could take back ownership of their data.
What makes Web 3.0 superior to its predecessors?
- No central point of control: Since middlemen are removed from the equation, user data will no longer be controlled by them. This reduces the risk of censorship by governments or corporations and cuts down the effectiveness of Denial-of-Service (DoS) attacks.
- 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 provide more accurate information that accommodates the specific needs of the individual user.
- More efficient browsing: When using search engines, finding the best result used to be quite challenging. However, over the years, they have become better at finding semantically-relevant results based on search context and metadata. This results in a more convenient web browsing experience that can help anyone find the exact information they need with relative ease.
Web 2.0 also introduced social tagging systems, but those can be manipulated. With smarter algorithms, manipulated results can be filtered by AI.
- Improved advertising and marketing: No one likes being bombarded with online ads. However, if the ads are relevant to one's interests and needs, they could be useful instead of being an annoyance. Web 3.0 aims to improve advertising by leveraging smarter AI systems, and by targeting specific audiences based on consumer data.
- Better customer support: When it comes to websites and web applications, customer service is key for a smooth user experience. Due to the massive costs, though, many web services that become successful are unable to scale their customer service operations accordingly. Through the use of smarter chatbots that can talk to multiple customers simultaneously, users can enjoy a superior experience when dealing with support agents.
The evolution of the Internet has been a long journey and will surely continue towards further iterations. With the massive explosion of available data, websites and applications have the ability to transition to a web that provides a considerably better experience to an increasing number of users around the world.
While there is no concrete definition for Web 3.0 yet, it is already set in motion by innovations in other technological fields.