The present Web 2.0 is about connecting people, in which social media sites were made, and the developers were concentrated on the application layer (1).
Now, when we think about Web 3.0, some would say that the future is in the virtual web, and others would argue that it is in the semantic web (2).
Semantic technology (3) defines and links data on the internet by building languages used for expressing rich and self-describing correlations of data in a way that only machines can comprehend. When this technology is incorporated into the web structure, it will lead to the creation of an era where machines can seamlessly understand humans. Every interaction between the web and humans will almost be in line with what users are thinking or looking at.
But what if we say there is another direction we can think about when it comes to the future of the web? Yes, there is another called the decentralized web (4). And we believe that all three would be combined in Web 3.0.
For Web 3.0, we should focus on solving issues we have with Web 2.0 and the problems these social media platforms have created. The decentralized web, powered by blockchain technology, would focus on making protocols and underlying technology that end-users often don’t notice.
Today, let’s talk about how Web 3.0 can change the way businesses operate and how users interact with the digital world. In this story, we will look at Web 3.0 blockchain technology in detail, and how it would dramatically alter the world we know today.
History of Web Evolution
There have been plenty of whispers around Web 3.0 for some time now and the changes it can bring to the digital world. However, before we look into the changes it can bring and the problems it would solve, we first need to see the history of web evolution to understand what has led us to this web version.
Web Evolution from Web 1.0 to 3.0
Web 1.0 (1989 – 2005)
Web 1.0, also known as the Static Web, was the first and most reliable website in the 1990s, even though it only offered limited information with little to no user interaction. Back then, creating a user page or even commenting on an article was not a thing.
There were no algorithms to sort internet pages in Web 1.0. It had made finding relevant information extremely difficult for users. In short, Web 1.0 was like a one-way highway where a select few created the content, and information mostly came from directories (5).
Web 2.0 (2005 – Present)
Web 2.0, contrary to Web 1.0, opened platforms for all users to interact with businesses and each other. Termed as the “writable” phase of the WWW, the world wide web allowed users to freely interact with one another, encouraging greater collaboration, high participation, and sharing of information in real-time (6).
Web 2.0 made a new era of social media networks and made the otherwise observant web interactive. Today, consumers and brands have a voice that they can use to give their opinions to the world. It came with the age of complete exposure and visibility.
In short, the revolution of Web 2.0 was a dream come true for those who wanted to reach the world.
However, it was all until the UN realized that internet users had risen from 738 million heads to 3.2 billion people between 2005 and 2015. And they were bringing a massive amount of data with themselves (7).
And as soon as big tech giants realized that there is an enormous amount of personal data at their fingertips – the most expensive asset, the big centralized servers like Google, Facebook, and Amazon started stockpiling them.
Today, internet users have to sacrifice their personal information for the convenience of better services. And before we could even realize its severity, our identities, browsing manners, and online shopping habits were sold to the highest bidders with dubious motives.
The Rising Need for Web 3.0
The inception of the decentralization of the web first came when the massive data in tech behemoths who had the capital and connections started showing their nasty side. There is countless news about popular brands selling and being careless with our data (8). Remember Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica scandal?
Today, users worldwide have started looking away from the conveniences and questioning the worth of a quality that exposed them, with increased instances of financial loss and identity theft over time – and it is time for you, too, if you haven’t already.
The time is now to bring the power of data back to people (9). And how can we achieve it? The answer is the decentralization of the web, with blockchain technology as the means, and the goal is Web 3.0.
Web 3.0: The Brave New World
Tim Berners Lee, best known as the World Wide Web investor, first spoke of the term Web 3.0 in 2006 – We can be wrong here (10) and roughly defined it as a newly structured www which can be read directly by our devices, designed to be categorized and organized by more than just people.
While Lee’s vision has not yet come to complete realization, there have been certain advancements in decentralized storage of information: in the widespread adoption of encryption. Lee himself contributes to the advancements in this area with his project Solid (11), which aims to offer greater data privacy and sovereignty.
It is where the blockchain and associated technology comes into play. These technologies are driving us towards a world where users have a greater understanding of the software they interact with, a clear understanding of the meaning of those interactions, and more control overall.
The potential solution for Web 3.0 emerged with public blockchains, Etherum in particular. In 2008, Bitcoin was first made and used the technology as a solution for a decentralized, censorship-resistant, virtual currency. Etherum, in 2014, followed its footsteps as a fully decentralized Turing Complete computational platform. The ability to set smart contracts started fulfilling some of Web 3.0’s definitions (12, 13).
Even though Web 3.0 is quite a vague term, for now, the change is happening even as we write this piece. The focus is shifting from centralized behemoths like Facebook and Google to more democratic decentralization of data, fostering much-needed changes in control, power, and identity dynamics. It should mean a paradigm shift in how users interact with businesses.
So, What is Blockchain Technology?
A blockchain (14) is a peer-to-peer network keeping track of information and transactions in chains. These blocks are joined together using a cryptographic hash in a single list called a chain. It makes the record impossible to modify and offers a stable data structure.
All parties involved in verifying a transaction maintain a complete copy of the blockchain. Moreover, even many third parties also maintain it, which makes the network secured and well-distributed.
The Role of Blockchain Technology in Web 3.0
As we already discussed, blockchain technology serves as the foundational block for Web 3.0. The technology, also known as DLT, Distributed Ledger Technology (15), adds massive value to Web 3.0’s core function while also addressing several flaws of Web 2.0. In a nutshell, blockchain technology is the guiding force that allows previously impossible tasks possible with Web 3.0.
Blockchain technology was made to create a decentralized database maintained up to date by anonymous consensus. The most obvious connection between Web 3.0 and blockchain is that they make it easier to move towards a decentralized network from a client-server.
People often confuse blockchain technology with Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. However, that is not the case. It is nothing more than a distributed ledger. It means that we have nodes, our devices that are distributed globally, where people confirm transactions. We have to meet a consensus.
That’s what allows us to have those transactions transparent to everyone. We can use the permissioned blockchain for healthcare records and permissionless blockchains similar to Bitcoin. It is similar to any transaction such as food distribution. In short, blockchain technology is nothing but the decentralized, transparent nature of the internet.
And the “decentralized web” uses the power of blockchain technology to dissolve the requirement for centralized operations, working only with unchangeable encrypted information.
The Advantages of Blockchain-Based Web
A single person or group of individuals called Satoshi Nakamoto invented the blockchain technology in 2008 to be used as the public transaction ledger of the cryptocurrency Bitcoin. It is an open ledger that can record verifiably and permanently transactions between two parties efficiently. Hence it is resistant to data modification (16).
Experts believe that we can create new online capabilities and platforms with clear benefits to businesses and end-users with this technology (17).
For instance, we can enable new forms of decentralized identity, DI, including SSI, Self-sovereign identity. With the decentralized identity paradigm, users can control and maintain personal information instead of relying on third parties.
It means in the future, as opposed to sharing your personal information repeatedly on each platform you sign up for, you can simply authorize the platforms to use your information. If something changes, you only need to change it once on your end, and all your sites would be updated. It makes the internet much more user-friendly.
Moreover, with the technology, the identity of you and the platform would be verified easily, which would go a long way in moderating identity theft and using false identities to spread propaganda and commit fraud.
In addition, we can also combine technologies like blockchain, IoT, and AI to build a far more worthy of trust internet than the one we have today, allowing us to easily track the source and lifecycle of the information the way we do with critical things such as medicine and food.
In a decentralized, secure web, we can square the circle between transparency and online privacy, allowing us to get the collective benefits of big data, including essential areas like national security, curing diseases, and fighting financial crime, while preserving privacy and rights of honest people. We will also get the opportunity to monetize our private data instead of unknowingly handing it over to third-party platforms, as is the case today.
As Web 3.0 becomes a reality, we can transform the internet from an insecure place to a more safe, secure, and perhaps even more profitable place.
How Web 3.0 Would Impact Businesses?
Web 3.0 Blockchain Stack
Web 3.0 is a fair and transparent network where people can interact without fearing loss of privacy or security. By combining the power of big data, blockchain, and AI, the new web version will make the internet intelligent while making it semantic.
The blockchain would drive the process of data collection and how it is managed across the web. It would bring together all the robust data with the help of IoT and AI and convert them into information that can’t be duplicated or hacked.
The transition from Web 2.0 to 3.0 would have zero impact on the end-user while bringing a revolutionary change in the backend. The center stack of the web will have to change for a client-server model to become decentralized.
Even though the actual Web 3.0 technology stack is not out yet, here is what we assume the web3 blockchain technology stack would look like:
An application is usually kept on the top layer in the tech stack; it won’t be the same in the case of decentralization-driven solutions. Blockchain elements are primarily focused on the backend.
Here are some real-life examples of Web 3.0 applications, called Dapps.
The Dapp powered web version offers several alternatives that users can interact with instead of the decentralized data-driven conventional business models. Even today, when web3 has not even come into action, there are apps and platforms powered by future central blockchain development companies offering decentralized alternatives to the centralized portals backed by monopolizing tech giants.
Primary Components of Web 3.0
Apart from blockchain, several other technologies would collaborate and come on the forefront to achieve everything that we are expecting from Web 3.0. It means that the integration of blockchain technology won’t be enough. We need emerging technologies to become the central components of Web 3.0 to make the web semantic and decentralized (18).
- With VR, AR, and high-fidelity 3D graphics, the user interface of the digital web would combine the real world. The gap between the physical and digital will be filled.
- IoT devices running on advanced networks like 5G, the web will be ubiquitous via internet connect computer interfaces of physical objects. Everything from watches, phones, cars, drones, even ovens, and refrigerators will be connected to the internet.
- With AI technology, computers will learn to offer user-focused interactions. Features like chatbots would act on the front end combined with ML algorithms working on the back will make user experience relevant and semantic via analyzing structured and unstructured data.
- Decentralized web applications or Web 3.0 blockchain apps are the dApps that would make the web transparent and open. These apps, powered by blockchain technology, will end the monopoly of tech giants and bring the power of data back to the end-users.
- Since Web 3.0 is mainly driven by blockchain technology, it would operate with a revolutionary new model – decentralization.
- As soon as Web 3.0 comes into full force, businesses relying on users’ data to operate will cease to exist, and those operating in the blockchain will come to the forefront. Businesses will also have to look for new business models in an era where everything from data to banking will be transparent and open.
- We believe that small businesses will gain the most in the whole Web 3.0 scene as the monopoly of tech giants will end, and the well-established brands will have to undergo major changes to survive the change (19, 20).
Undoubtedly, Web 3.0 will redefine how we interact with the digital world, and its effect on individuals and businesses – traditional and disruptive would be equally huge.
However, it is also worth spotlighting that the transition from Web 2.0 to Web 3.0 will not happen overnight. It means businesses have plenty of time to look back and analyze their processes and see where they can fit the transparency and decentralization radar.