Darwin had it in the bag from the very start.
Moths metamorphose into majestic butterflies. The bark of a dog came from the desire to communicate with humans. From our apelike ancestors, humans now 'ape into' hyped tokens launches.
Evolution can be viewed as quintessentially human. Everyday, we toy with the reigns of change, and merely hope that we're steering its mighty, inevitable force in the right direction.
If you’re a tech aficionado (like the best of us), understanding the evolutionary trajectory of the web might just be the most beautiful phenomena you’ve seen yet.
The term Web 3.0 is weaved into way too many headlines, cozy couch conversations and Twitter feeds for us to brush over.
In order to properly understand the tenets of Web 3.0, let's firstly contextualise it by breaking down the preceding iterations of the web (to be as easy as 1-2-3.).
Here I break down each epoch of the Web, including its origins, key characteristics, examples of technologies and associated concerns.
Web 1.0 (Coined by Tim Berners-Lee, 1989 ):
Read-Only/Syntactic Web — 1991-2004**
The first internet age was humankind's first foray into a world beyond the commercial brick-and-mortar landscape.
Here, the majority of users are content consumers; merely digesting information spoon-fed to us by the first 'content creators' (hello journalists, reporters, news companies etc.) and internet moguls. A small concentration of site owners distribute to large audience.
Web pages are static and text-heavy, developed on server side technology and common gateway interfaces. Bandwidth stifles any aesthetic progression.
People use the internet as an alternative to reading a newspaper, or brochure. At least users got relatively uncensored (and on-demand) access to information, in comparison to what central publications churned out.
You can think of Web 1.0 as window shopping. All the goodies there for you to see, observe, fawn over - but very much look-but-no-touchy.
Examples of Web 1.0 companies: AOL, Yahoo, Google, Craiglist.
- Who decides what information is credible?
- What more is possible with the web itself?
- What about the most important group - the users
Enter Web 2.0
Web 2.0 (Coined by Tim O'Reilly, 2004)
(Wtf is up with the Tims of the world sweeping up the Web's most staple titles?!)
Read-Write/The Social Web — 2005-Present
Web 1.0 gets an upgrade. This is the Internet/Web as we know it today.
Technological advances such as servers, and languages like HTML5, CSS3, JS ES6 bless us with interactive web platforms.
Suddenly everyone can be a #ContentCreator. Participation is rampant, an influx of #TMI and #FOMO as everyone starts to share their day-to-day life with the world.
Internet feuds and digital bickering grow increasingly common. The Internet is a place you meet your future BFF or lifelong enemy.
Spending money becomes easier, and businesses are booming with e-commerce technology.
Our data is at the mercy of the the most powerful intermediaries and platform owners. Censorship creeps its way back into information, but is specific to each platform.
Think of Web 2.0 as a community notice board. People have the choice to put up uplifting motivation messages, useful notices, or use it as a platform to sabotage their worst enemies. The owner of this community notice board has the power to either take the board and run with it, call out singular users, or confiscate it indefinitely.
Examples of Web 2.0: Twitter, Youtube, Facebook, Instagram
(What led to the inevitable transition to Web3?)
Introducing GAFAM and the Data Economy Business Model
GAFAM is an acronym for Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon, and Microsoft - the five biggest players in our current (Web 2.0) ecosystem.
The Data Economy Business Model posits that these four moguls - through owning our information - can exploit our vulnerabilities, control what we are exposed to, and ultimately determine what is profitable.
Who owns the most data is who wins the game.
Adding to the inherent depravity in the fact that organisations have so many lives wrapped around their finger, is the sheer amount at stake should things go sideways (data-rich entities are an absolute field day for malicious, kleptomaniac hackers).
Of course, given the disorganised state of the web with the birth of Web 2.0, the rise of entities such as GAFA was not just inevitable, but arguably necessary. It's true that any new community or society needs pioneers to lead the way and increase accessibility.
Caveat Although distinguished by characteristics, its important to refrain from thinking as Web 1.0 and 2.0 as binary division.
Web 2.0, consequently was a rite of passage to the better things that Web 3.0's birth will bring to the technological realm.
Web 3.0 (Coined by Gavin Wood, 2018*):
Read-Write-Own/The Semantic Web — In Construction
Are we finally where we wanted to be with this whole internet business?
Negative. Web3's realisation is far from complete.
And while we can look forward towards many a (positive) changes; Web 2.0's technology are unlikely to be wholly supplanted.
In this regard, it's worth intellectualising Web 3.0 as a paradigm shift towards an Internet democracy, so much as an infrastructural gear change.
The central ideas of utopian concepts such as democracy, egalitarianism and collective ownership serve as the building blocks of Web 3.0 products and services.
In terms of internet infrastructure, we may examine major changes in technological architecture that serve in the interest of the collective rather than a handful of entities. The advanced dynamism of Web 2.0 apps are fused with the open standards and protocols of decentralised applications (dApps). Monopolies fade into things of the past.
Immutability is enforced by smart contract technology, and transactions embossed on-chain enforce transparency. Users can enjoy a consistent identity over multiple, interoperable platforms - all while maintaining pseudonymity and ownership over their data.
Things to look forward to with Web 3.0:
- An enriched Creator Economy
- Novel organisational structures and platforms
- A new way of thinking of human-machine relationships
Examples of Web 3.0 Tokenised communities (DAOs)
The evolution to Web 3.0 has no single identifiable watershed moment.
It's comparable more to a stream that gradually gets clearer, the pool of quality interactions get bigger, ultimately leading to a decentralised pond, full of fish wanting to create a healthy, thriving ecosystem, drawing inspiration from a cascade of positive innovation.