Web 3.0 will likely only partially replace Web 2.0. The transition from Web1 to Web 2.0 did not eliminate what Web1 laid on the table: rather it improved upon it. Web1 laid the foundation, and Web 2.0 improved upon it, creating the Internet as we know it today. It was an incredible change. Web 2.0 supported reading and writing, opening up tremendous innovation across the board. These changes were not, however, all good. With the increased complexity of the internet came the surge in our data’s value. We are sure you’ve seen how much companies are interested in optimizing their customer experiences and marketing strategies with our user data.
Web 3.0 offers a decentralized internet that leverages blockchain for that decentralization and, hopefully, a more efficient overall experience. The problem is that Web 2.0 is much more stable as it’s been around for many years. With Web 3.0, there comes a new set of opportunities and challenges.
While it is unlikely to replace Web 2.0, there are a lot of questions regarding all the incoming changes as Web 3.0 becomes a more significant player in the Internet playing field. Let’s dive into Web 2.0 and Web 3.0 and how they relate.
Will Web 3.0 Replace Web 2.0?
One of the largest challenges with Web 3.0 is that everyone is very comfortable using a Web 2.0 internet interface. It’s been the norm for a long time, and it will take a lot for considerable change to occur. Web 3.0’s decentralization means users have more control over their data and privacy. This takes some power away from the big corporations compiling all the user data, giving the individual user more agency and control in the world wide web. There are, certainly, many obstacles to overcome. Those who utilize blockchain have implemented it for a lot of good and, unfortunately, bad. There is a significant need for regulation and trust-building in using blockchain for activities like this.
This section will cover a brief history of Web 2.0 and what we know so far about Web 3.0 to serve as a foundation upon which we can take a deep dive into whether or not Web 3.0 will replace Web 2.0.
A Brief Recap of Web 3.0 and Web 2.0
Web 2.0 came to be just before the turn of the century. The term Web 2.0 was first said in an article called Fragmented Future, where Darcy DiNucci described it as a “transport mechanism, the ether through which interactivity happens." Pretty serious description. From what we’ve seen in the last two decades, she could not have been more right; Web 2.0 has revolutionized how people use the Internet. This new system allowed users to interact with web pages, and an entirely new system evolved around that function. The internet has become social. Message boards popped up everywhere as the first steps into social media were taken all over the world. People interacted with those they had never met and likely never would meet, sharing their thoughts and opinions, bonding and arguing over their shared interests, and chatting about everything under the sun.
Over the last two decades, the Internet has evolved without ceasing into its current form, and it is poised to continue its evolution in the years to come. Web 2.0 allows users to share data and share data they did. The Internet is arguably overfilled with data from every corner. Information and misinformation become harder and harder to distinguish, and many individuals and companies leverage their data reservoirs to output content that will perform best, not best content. Clickbait headlines and SEO-optimized articles that don’t answer questions abound in this evolved Web 2.0.
With this in mind, Web 3.0 proposes changing the status quo. As we said, Web 3.0 is not here to replace Web 2.0, at least not anytime soon. It hopes to change some of the more system-wide issues we’ve discovered with Web 2.0 and make the Internet a better and more efficient place, which is a herculean task. The Internet is just shy of infinitely complex, but many minds are working hard to create an optimized Web 3.0.
Web 3.0 is the third generation of the World Wide Web and hopes to become decentralized, open to everyone, and built on a foundation of blockchain technology. It hopes to take the reins away from centralized companies and allows people to enjoy a higher degree of privacy online with more control over their data. The major differences between Web 2.0 and Web 3.0 are, in broad terms, data storage, connectivity, and currency. These next two sections will cover how we’ve used Web 2.0 in the past and how Web 3.0’s usage might look when adopted.
How do we use Web 2.0?
We use Web 2.0 every time we open up the Internet. It is the current framework upon which the Internet runs, and it is made up of a number of pillars that set it apart as its own item. Let’s take a look at some of these pillars that make Web 2.0 uniquely Web 2.0.
- Software Applications
- Social Networking
- User-Generated Content
These comprehensive websites are databases filled with input from various users, generally those with intimate knowledge of their topic. Wikipedia is the largest of these databases, but wikis exist on almost every topic. On a Wiki, users can add, edit, update, and change the information on the pages, meaning there is no single owner to the Wiki. It is a shared collective of information on the topic at hand, and it is constantly changing. What makes Wiki a pillar of Web 2.0 is its community information-gathering. Regulations aside, anyone can hop onto a Wiki and change the information to reflect the topic and ensure everything is present. Thousands of eyes crawl the pages, and if there are any mistakes, they can change them immediately.
Downloaded data is a pillar of Web 2.0 Users can download all sorts of software applications for their own use. The subscription service has emerged due to this. Companies can sell subscriptions to their software application because, due to the ease of downloading these applications, there is no need for an up-front purchase of the software. Downloaded software applications include games, business platforms, creative tools, and anything you can think of that’s on your computer. With the rise of the Cloud, physical CD-ROMs became a thing of the past.
The big one. The powerhouse. The pillar that towers over all the others: is social networking. These media-sharing websites allow users to communicate with one another and post text, photos, and videos online for the public. These are similar to Wikis, but Wikis are informational and have a stricter regulation system due to that informational goal. Social networks are for entertainment, and, for better and for worse, users have free reign to publish almost anything they wish. Web 2.0 opened the door for social networks to grow, and they grew with Web 2.0 for many years before moving onto a path of their own.
Outside social networks, users create abundant content on the Web 2.0 Internet. Blogs, videos, and photos are posted online for distribution to all who wish to view it. There is a tremendous distribution of content creation and the popular avenues of its creation have changed constantly throughout the history of Web 2.0. User-generated content and social networking often go hand-in-hand, and users can easily communicate with the consumers of their content through all these mediums.
While a lot of the focus in this section has been on user-created content, Web 2.0 also ushered in the ability for content to be crowdsourced, crowdfunded, and crowd-tested. Games have alpha and beta-testing where users can play the game themselves and give feedback on the bugs they encountered as well as their overall experience. Projects can be posted online, and users can band together to fund the project during its development. Web 2.0 allowed users to pool their resources (monetary or knowledge) to further the development and completion of a project without having to back it in its entirety.
How do we use Web 3.0?
Web 3.0 is currently in development, but certain features have already emerged. There are a number of decentralized businesses that have emerged utilizing blockchain technology. Decentralized wireless companies like Pollen and Helium are examples of this, but these activities will undoubtedly rise as Web 3.0 continues along its developmental stages. Decentralized digital currencies are another major asset in the use of Web 3.0. With its integrated blockchain, using Web 3.0 allows users to transact with their crypto wallets directly with the service provider rather than using conventional bank-centered transaction services.
Ubiquity in Web 3.0
There is a strong push to ensure that Web 3.0 is always available everywhere. With the continued spread of the Internet and Internet connectivity, Web 3.0 hopes to be ubiquitous when it is rolled out. That is — available to all.
This is the major pillar of Web 3.0. This stage of the Internet envisions a decentralized playing field where connectivity is based on peer-to-peer connections. What does that mean? That data is stored on the blockchain, and websites are not collecting and tracking your data. Decentralized apps are in development based on this concept. Traditional apps are run off of a server (or servers), while decentralized apps are maintained by a network of computers that upkeep the blockchain. There are several decentralized apps currently in development utilizing the core technologies that Web 3.0 brings to the table.
Alongside this is decentralized finance. This crypto exchange occurs on the blockchain and moves from one person directly to the other rather than a bank transaction.
Web 3.0 will rely heavily on AI to develop efficient communication between users and the web to gather answers to increasingly complex queries. This is a major change from the current formula, where the AI will crawl the Internet and retrieve the information it deems most valuable to the user. There is a lot of development and testing required for this service prior to its completion, and the quality of the AI behind the scenes will have a large impact on the overall experience of the user. A fully functioning AI will deliver the best search results from the user and separate the wheat from the chaff, eliminating the danger of misinformation and sensationalized information-less articles.
The danger is that the AI will not fully separate the wheat from the chaff as it curates the results or suffers from a subtle and undiscovered bias towards one type of information over the rest. Racial and gender biases have plagued AIs in the past, and it is of tremendous importance that the AI behind the Web 3.0 search engine is free of those biases.
ICANN and its Relationship to Web 3.0
The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) is a stakeholder group and nonprofit organization that conducts maintenance and regulates several databases regarding the names and numerical spaces on the Internet, aiding in its stable and secure operation. There is a recent article on Forbes that ponders whether or not Web 3.0 will make ICANN obsolete. In short — it is unlikely! Let’s dive into ICANN and its relationship to Web 3.0 as a case supporting the fact that Web 3.0 will not likely replace Web 2.0.
What does ICANN do?
This corporation is one of the databases behind IP address space allocation, protocol identifier assignment, generic and country code, Top-Level Domain name system management, and root server system management. What does that mean? Well, ICANN is an internet community responsible for managing webpages and overall internet stability. Their Domain Name System (DNS) management helps users navigate the internet and get to where they need to go. Websites are stored through a complicated string of numbers, and ICANN assigns the neat domain name that we see in our search bar.
ICANN works with many organizations to stay on top of the continued innovations and growth within the internet. With the rise of Web 3.0, it is no surprise that ICANN is working to find its place in that regard. It will be many years before Web 3.0 is fully functional, but those years are very important for companies to plan out how they will adapt to the new playing field. ICANN may not become a regulator for Web 3.0 as it has for Web 2.0, but it will be many years before the continued regulation of Web 2.0 will lessen in its importance.
A New Era of Searching
A lot is happening behind the curtains. Many core technologies of Web 3.0 are ready for deployment and being honed in other applications and services, waiting for the rollout of this new web service. There is a lot of information surrounding these two Internet powerhouses, and we want to leave you with a few key takeaways before you move on to the next task in your day armed with the answer to the question: Will Web 3.0 replace Web 2.0?
- Web 3.0 will not replace Web 2.0 anytime soon. Web 2.0 has put down far too many strong roots for that to be the case, and this service, while bringing a lot to the table, will exist side-by-side for many years as it figures out its place in the grand scene of the World Wide Web.
- We use Web 2.0 every day as we browse the internet. It opened up the floodgates that gave us social media, wikis, and community-driven projects.
Web 3.0 is in its early stages. It will be many years before it rises up to its full height, but when it does, it will change the landscape of the Internet irreversibly.