The Internet is a constantly evolving technology that continues to innovate. 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.
The ways we interact with the net will become more immersive with 3D options available. The benefits to the user also include efficient browsing, relevant advertising, and improved customer support. Some of the most widely used Web 3.0 technology can be seen with virtual assistants like Siri and Alexa and connected smart homes.
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 3.0?
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 3.0 work?
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.
A brief history of the evolution of the web
To understand Web 3.0 better, let's look at where we are now and what we've developed from. Over two decades, we've already seen enormous changes:
The original Internet provided an experience 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. In the early 1990s, websites were built using static HTML pages that could only display information. There was no way for users to change the data or upload their own. Social interactions were limited to simple chat messengers and forums.
During the late 1990s, a shift towards a more interactive Internet started taking form. With Web 2.0, users were able to interact with websites through databases, server-side processing, forms, and social media. These tools changed the web experience from a static to a dynamic one.
The future and Web 3.0
To see the main differences between Web 1.0, 2.0, and 3.0 at a glance, refer to our table below:
Passive interaction for the user
Community platforms and user-generated content
User-ownership for content creators
Blockchain, AI, machine learning
Some basic 3D use
3D, VR, AR
Obtrusive (banners, etc.)
Targeted based on user behavior
Stored on individual websites’ servers
Owned by large tech giants
Distributed across 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.
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 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:
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:
Web 3.0 use cases
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.
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.
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 are transitioning to a more immersive web experience. While there is still no concrete definition for Web 3.0, the innovations are already in motion. It’s plain to see the direction we are going, and blockchain, of course, looks to be a key part of the Web 3.0 future.