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Web 3.0 Explained

Web 3.0…how does all that work?

Did you even know that we had different versions and evolutions of the web? Perhaps not!

I’m pretty sure 99% of the population doesn’t, but that’s where this article comes into play.

Recently, I was visiting my partner’s parents when the topic of social media, data privacy and digital identities came up. You know, as it does when you see your in-laws. 

Anyway, my millennial brain started to awake at this point when the whiff of a tech talk with multiple generations could be about to go down at any minute.

The anticipation was tantalising.

Then the golden word rolled off of someone’s tongue… Web 3.0I knew at this point it was game time.

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What preceded was me walking into full educator mode with plenty of hand gestures, analogies, historical references that may or may not have been real, and basically a full in-depth 60 min workshop on the evolution of the web, digital identity and how we educate the masses on lightspeed technological advancements.

All of this in a living room on a bright weekend afternoon in the north of England, what more could you ask for?

The sad part is that no-one recorded it…but then again, one wouldn’t expect that.

So, you’ll just have to take my word for it on being the greatest workshop that never was on Web 3.0. 

However, this got me thinking (which can be lethal as readers of my work have already seen), how do we help the everyday human get a better basic understanding of all the digital technology they are using and how it impacts their daily and future life?

Super broad question, right? And, of course, no one solution for it.

Yet, I feel like we can explore some very basic but incredibly helpful insight on how the web is evolving and what that means for you, me and the rest of humanity.

Right then, shall we learn all about this together.

The basics 

Ok, so far we’ve had 2 versions of what we know as the web in existence.

The first was in the early to mid 90’s with the good old 56k dial up days, when AOL was the biggest ISP (internet service provider) in the world. 

Basically, this was the first time that most of humanity was introduced to the technology we now know as the web. A beta type form of this existed for years before but was not a publicly accessible piece of tech.

We can refer to this moment in the history of the web as the read-only era.

And that’s because all you could do was read stuff. 

Websites were purely informational and we were all consumers. No likes, comments, shares or any of that interactivity.

Web 1.0 ran from 1991 to 2004 and we were all just consumers of content created by a very small pool of companies.

Of course, after 1 comes 2 (my math skills are awesome!). 

Web 2.0 is the version of the web that we’ve all come to know since 2004 and are using to this very day.

Web 2.0 was a massive leap for us all. We moved from purely content consumers to creators. It evolved from a read-only experience to a read-write experience. 

All the companies you now know, love or maybe even hate were born on Web 2.0.

The read-write experience gave us Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Amazon and the rest of the big applications many of us use right now. Blogging, podcasting and video rocked our world and gave way to the influencer era. People were able to make money online, share and connect like never before.

Kinda sounds like a fairy tale, right? But even fairy tales have the wicked witch and dark forest to contend with. 

Web 2.0 has been no different.

For all the innovation we now enjoy, we’ve also had to pay a price. That price being our personal data and identity. 

Web 2.0 is amazing with all of its content creator tools and opportunities, but it has also turned each one of us into a product.

We’ve shed the skin of consumption and become the main attraction for web 2.0 as the product itself. In very simple terms, we exchanged our personal data unregulated for access to all of the shiny applications and platforms we use daily.

Thousands or perhaps millions of pieces of data on each of us exists on servers controlled by big tech and governments. Files of data that contain everything we know about ourselves and even more!

This is why so many of us are concerned about the current version of the web. Use of our personal data is highly under regulated and we are just giving it out like free BigMacs with no questions asked.

The main problem here is centralisation, one entity owning, managing and doing whatever they want with this data, usually big tech companies.

You can’t blame these tech companies completely, They were just the quickest to figure out how to monetise all this data. 

Through the power of machine learning (fancy tech speak for learning about your behaviours in the digital world) almost all of these companies have discovered effective ways to keep us engaged with their products by watching our activity.

This in turn has given rise to the selling of our data to lots of advertising companies who then randomly pop-up in your inbox or on your next visit to your social feeds, pushing their products to you based on the back of your recent activity with a big tech company’s product.

Some people don’t care about this, whilst many others do.

So, the read-write era has been a massive evolution for our society but the trade-off is that we’ve all become the product and have lost our right to privacy.

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So what comes next?

The time has come to talk about Web 3.0!

Some call Web 3.0 the saviour for our privacy and misuse of data. A world where we stop being the product and return to the driver’s seat (a quasi version web 1 if you will). 

Whilst others believe it will scale what we already experience in Web 2.0 to another level or perhaps even break the web into two opposing factions where users make the choice on what experience they are most happy to interact with giving what they have to trade in return (data or anonymity).

Essentially the promise of web 3 is that we take back control of our data.

But have we already gone too far down the yellow brick road? 

Some think we have and others believe that web 3 is just a utopian pipe dream that will never come true, which means we’ll be ruled by big tech companies for some time yet. Depressing I know!

Web 3 is not just one big idea but a set of many that may or may not come to life over the next few decades. 

The appeal of Web 3.0 for nerds like me is the focus on decentralisation, which basically means no one single source has control over your data. This differs from Web 2.0, which we’ve learnt stores your data on one single database or cloud service.

The plan would be for Web 3 apps to be powered by Blockchain technology (which is a whole other topic we’ll save for another day). The hope is that BC tech will allow us to break up our digital and real identity by utilising a private wallet.

What this means is that we would move away from what is called the KYC model, aka the Know Your Customer model. You could say interact with a social media app and not have that interactivity linked to your real identity.

Could the promise of Web 3 come to reality? Maybe, but I think we might be a way off yet.

That’s it from me, but here’s a simple explanation from our friends at the Intelligencer (perhaps a better job than me? I’ll let you decide that!).

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And a nice summary from GeeksforGeeks ⬇️

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References

Whiteboard Crypto: What is Web 3.0?

Fireship: Is Web 3.0 just hype?

Blockchain technology explained

Web 1.0, 2.0 and 3.0 – what’s the difference?


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