There’s a term that’s cropping up on social media that’s probably pretty confusing. That term is “Web 3.0”, also called “Web3”. The phenomenon is being heralded by some as the future of the Internet. For others, it’s just a buzzword. But what is web 3.0? And how does it present itself to shape the future? Well, in a way, Web 3.0 already exists, and it’s already well on its way to shaping the way we connect online.
Cryptocurrency is opening the door to Web 3.0. Digital assets are laying the foundation for an autonomous and decentralized network, free from corporate authority. In just a few short years, many believe that Web 3.0 will be alive and thriving.
So what exactly is it? Here is everything you need to know.
Web 3.0 FAQ
What is Web 3.0?
Web 3.0 is, just as it sounds, considered to be the third iteration of the Internet as we know it. Web 1.0 is the first foundation of the Internet. Think of the archaic read-only HTML websites you’d see in the 1990s next to your beige computer tower. This is where it all started, and this period spawned a lot of innovation.
Web 2.0, or simply Web2, is the Internet as we know it today, beginning with the prototypical Facebook pages and e-commerce. This is a period where connectivity is heavily emphasized; you can chat with friends, get instant answers to any question in the world, and buy just about anything you want online.
Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the World Wide Web, is one of the earliest predictors of Web 3.0, calling it the “Semantic Web”. Berners-Lee envisioned an evolution where Internet data is machine-readable and computers can communicate directly with each other. Of course, we now acknowledge the existence of such technology in the form of blockchain and smart contracts.
The advent of the blockchain is helping make Berners-Lee’s vision a reality by providing the tools that are explicitly required for this automation process. Blockchain-based protocols and the smart contracts on them communicate automatically, allowing the semantic web to work as intended.
Why do we want to change Web 2.0?
Although Web 2.0 brought great changes, it also brought many problems for end users. Much of the criticism that people have leveled at Web 2.0 has been about who has the power on the Internet. Sure, the advent of companies like Metaplatforms (NASDAQ:full board) Y of the alphabet (NASDAQ:GOOG,NASDAQ:GOOGLE) Google has brought great conveniences, but it has also created a disruption in terms of who is in control in the digital space.
The recent scandals of Meta they have been the most shining example of this displacement of power. The whistleblowers have exposed the ways in which the company manipulated its users: the end consumers of the Internet. Additionally, the ways in which companies mine personal data and target specific users have become quite controversial.
How can Web 3.0 solve these problems?
Web 3.0 is the direct answer to this power imbalance.
It seeks to address this by putting power back in the hands of users through decentralization. Data and power are currently centralized between tech giants like Meta and Google. With Web 3.0, this data can remain as private as the user wants it to be. It also frees users from the control of these tech giants. The Internet is seen as a frontier for freedom of expression, thanks in large part to the connectivity fostered by social media. And yet, users are still subject to the rules created at the whim of the ruling corporations.
In short, the next evolution of the Internet will eliminate the need to rely on these corporate platforms. Blockchain-powered development will catalyze the vision of the Semantic Web that Tim Berners-Lee theorized decades ago, automating processes and allowing users to make decisions for themselves.
How exactly will Web 3.0 “decentralize the Internet”?
Thanks to advances in blockchain technology, the path forward for the Semantic Web is relatively clear… and it’s all about decentralization. You probably hear crypto bulls talk about decentralization all the time. There are decentralized applications, decentralized finance, decentralized autonomous organizations (DAO), etc.
The current web as we know it is slowly moving towards the blockchain because that is where users can retain their independence. There is a lot of demand for a place where people can invest their money the way they want and get higher returns than banks can offer. That is clear from the success of DeFi protocols, which allow users to stake assets for passive income.
There is also a great demand for a decentralized Internet. With a blockchain-enabled Web 3.0, users will have access to social media dapps, where they can set rules on the type of content that can and cannot be published through community voting efforts.
Semantic Web technologies are how all of this decentralization is applied. With machines that communicate directly and smart contracts that execute functions automatically, there is less need for an authority to manage content or control things from above. And smart contracts will only get smarter through advances in AI technology. Automation is what makes relinquishing ownership of a website or app a viable option. From there, the DAO implementation will allow users themselves to dictate changes to the platforms and networks they use.
Users will also be able to easily transition from censorship-resistant social dapps, to DeFi protocols, to decentralized search engines, and then to the metaverse with ease. They can do all of this so quickly because your data will be stored in a personal account, without logging in. This will be possible thanks to a process associated with semantics called ontology. Ontology is essentially the categorization and naming of data. Machines create linked data through this categorization. It is through ontological language and this linked data that machines will be able to communicate with each other quickly and accurately during these automatic processes.
For example, the Semantic Web will use ontology to build profiles around its users so that they are easily recognizable across platforms. The possibilities are as endless as the Web 2.0 we know today, but they don’t require users to sacrifice their data like Web2 does.
Is Web 3.0 just a buzzword?
As is typical of any emerging technology, there are plenty of skeptics who don’t believe Web 3.0 is going to shake the Earth like the cell phone or router. Many people think that talking about the Semantic Web is quite exaggerated.
In fact, Elon Musk is one of those skeptics. The billionaire says Web 3.0 “sounds like bs.” Along with this statement, Musk calls the explosion of blockchain technology and Web 3.0 hype “crazier than ’99,” referring to the dot-com boom of the late 1990s.
There are many detractors like Elon Musk. We can’t know for sure what is holding the business tycoon back from a semantic Internet. But, if his views coincide with other skeptics, he probably thinks that there is nothing that makes him more compelling than the Silicon Valley-led Web 2.0 we experience today.
Musk isn’t the only entrepreneur with doubts about Web 3.0, either. Jack Dorsey is also a skepticexpressing his disgust that Web 3.0 is not owned by users, but rather by venture capitalists. In Dorsey’s eyes, the Semantic Web is already polluted in the same way that the web is today.
Others think that the idea of Web 3.0 is not such a ridiculous notion. However, they find it hard to believe that the tech giants don’t simply adopt these ideas for your own products. These skeptics believe that Meta and Google will implement Web 3.0 ideas in their own businesses to stay relevant.
How far is Web 3.0?
It is difficult to answer this question because there is no definitive timeline for this evolution. Users will continue to access the blockchain, developers will continue to create products for it, and one day it will simply be ubiquitous.
From now on, there is a a handful of Web 3.0 crypto projects out there. Developers are creating protocols and applications for wireless Internet, new browsers, peer-to-peer file sharing, and better social networks. In general terms, they are creating the foundation for a decentralized Internet.
projects like Moles (CCC:DOT-USD) are leading the charge. In fact, Polkadot is fully supported by the Web3 Foundation, which seeks to accelerate the development of the next iteration of the Internet. Another great project, the aptly named Ontology (CCC:ONT-USD), has been driving Web 3.0 adoption for four years.
In addition to these two projects, which openly push the adoption of Web 3.0, there are many other projects that contribute to its progress. For example, Ethereal (CCC:ETH-USD) is a network that hosts thousands of decentralized applications; in this sense, it is already an important hub for this new user-centric Internet. file currency (CCC:FIL-USD), also, drives this adoption by eliminating dependency on corporate cloud computing and allow users themselves to help each other share data storage.
What about Web 4.0? Is that a thing?
There is such a thing as Web 4.0. After Web 3.0 becomes the norm, developers will not rest on their laurels and call the job done. There is always room for innovation, and many already have expectations for the next steps.
Web 4.0 evolves beyond the Semantic Web towards the “symbiotic web”. As its name suggests, the next evolution of the Internet beyond Web 3.0 will focus primarily on relationship between humans and machines.
In essence, Web 4.0 will document the growing relationship between technology users and artificial intelligence. Machines will become more intelligent, capable of better categorizing data and its users.
In this evolution, the Internet is expected to be “on” all the time. Users will have constant, untethered access to computer AI that will recognize them and have knowledge of the individual based on profiles learned from that user.
Of course, there is still a lot of development left for the AI. Although, we see bits of 4.0 today. Take for example your Spotify (NYSE:POINT) bill; the company uses AI to learn user preferences and suggest new content.
The seeds of the future are already being planted. Web 3.0 is already going mainstream, and Web 4.0 is even closer than you think.
At the time of publication, Brenden Rearick did not hold (directly or indirectly) any position in the securities mentioned in this article. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author, subject to InvestorPlace.com Publishing Guidelines.