Progress is a natural part of everything's life cycle. That is, given enough time, anything is capable of evolving. The same principle applies to the Web's evolution – from Web 1.0 at the end of the 20th century to the thriving Web 3.0 of (almost) today.
Table of contents:
Businesses have benefited greatly from the internet, but many web users are still unaware of its actual capabilities and limitations. This exact knowledge, followed by the ability to spot the potential of the upcoming breakthrough technologies and adapt them before the competitors do is what will give the businesses a necessary boost to stand out from the crowd.
Hence, in today's blog post, let us take a moment to reflect on the brief history of the Internet as we know it and how we’ll soon benefit from its current advancements.
Web 3.0 – definition and meaning
Over the years, the Internet (or simply, the Web) has evolved dramatically. In fact, the broad history of the Web could be divided into three main phases:
The Web, Version 1.0
Web 1.0 refers to the Internet's early days, which began in the 1990s. The first iteration of text-only browsers (ELSA) was followed by HTML-based ones, which added a layer of visuals [simple code formatting, images] to search results displayed in Netscape, then Internet Explorer. Because dial-up connections were too slow for downloading, "heavier" files such as installers, movies, and even songs were distributed via portable disks or CDs.
The vast majority of web users were looking for content. A small number of existing content creators disseminated data using a static file system and non-responsive web pages. Older generation web tools were obviously in use, and the first e-commerce sites, such as Amazon and eBay, appeared. To interact with other web surfers, users gathered in AOL chatrooms to exchange rows of text [and text-based emoticons] via private or public chats.
Social Web 2.0
The Internet reached a watershed moment in its history in the early 2000s. Web 2.0 has emerged, emphasizing user-generated content, ease of use, and interoperability among end-users. You no longer need to be a developer to participate in the creative process.
The rapid advancement of technology has had an impact on the rate of social content creation, introducing innovations such as vastly improved commercial bandwidth, smartphones, and other personal devices equipped with microphones, cameras, memory cards, etc. As a result, more and more consumers can react almost instantly, create their own (collaborative) content from wherever they are, and build their social networks via platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, Reddit, and others.
As graphics have improved, multiplayer games have emerged as a new field for cooperative engagement. Machine learning and natural language processing algorithms are also being used for analytics as a result of Google's massive amounts of data crawled.
Some see the current “web” era as the start of the global village, in which every computer on the planet can freely interact with any number of internet-connected devices through centralized services. This is also the era in which the internet is being used to replace more and more aspects of society's lives.
We've been living in these times for a while now. Now, let's see what's coming up in the near future. But first, let's take a moment to consider the most frustrating aspects of Web 2.0.
Why Do We Need Web 3.0? The problem of data privacy
We got used to routinely handing over ownership of our data to virtually anyone on the internet. Every web activity we currently engage in leaves a trace, so the thousands of thousands of records of our data copies are stored in warehouse-sized data centers of the biggest tech giants. The fact that third parties store our information is not automatically a bad thing. However, when a single entity mediates the entire process, things can go wrong.
This could cause harm in terms of breaching users' privacy, stealing credentials (and other digital assets stored via the web), and harming their reputation.
And why is it crucial? How about the fact that the World Wide Web is used by approximately 4.95 billion people worldwide or about 62.5 percent of the world's population. That's a lot of data stored. And a lot of data to steal.
Semantic Web: the third generation of the Internet
Web 3.0 is the next step in the Internet's evolution, and it is rapidly approaching. Its most significant advantage is that it opens up and decentralizes the Internet by returning control of the web to customers. Emerging web technologies, such as blockchain, enable the new internet to function as a peer-to-peer (P2P), trustless system, contributing to the distinction. And big data businesses and global corporations no longer share personal information or have a monopoly on power and information.
The Semantic Web concept has the potential to make "world information" more meaningful than Google's current design. The automatic data filtering mechanism ensures that machines understand the meaning of the content on the web and can process it more quickly, precisely, and efficiently. It reorganizes data by transforming centralized servers into decentralized data networks that are shared rather than owned (so each service can display diverse views of web data). Such information can then be gathered using a variety of non-browser apps and processed using artificial intelligence, spatial web, and 3D networking technologies. They self-organize and do not rely on a single point of failure.
So, what improvements could be offered by the upcoming Web 3.0?
Web 3.0: Key features and applications
Every Web era is usually paired with a significant technological breakthrough in IT. Similarly, current emerging technologies are becoming critical components of Web 3.0.
Let's take a look at some of them:
- The Semantic Web uses semantic metadata. This technology can deduce the intent behind the use of specific symbols, images, keywords, and phrases. It's already acting as a translator between the human and the machine, allowing it to associate emojis (i.e., keyboard combinations) with a specific state of mind/intention. It will help people search for content more accurately and effectively in a few years, allowing them to search for data based on a specific meaning rather than keywords.
- Web 3.0 implies that the market has matured sufficiently to advance in artificial intelligence (AI), which will now easily pass the Turing test (demonstrating its ability to learn and adapt = its intelligence). Currently, AI and machine learning are teaching computers to comprehend data in the same way that humans do. As the ultimate future search assistant, AI will be able to distinguish between good and bad data, real people and bots, and, most importantly, between fake news and factual reporting. This way, businesses will be able to provide their customers with faster and more relevant results.
- Effortless services inspired by blockchain technology are ensured by storing data on multiple distributed nodes at the same time, rather than just one. There should be enough backup nodes to keep the chain running and prevent servers from being hijacked or failing. This allows for greater data storage and sharing, making it more efficient and accessible to anyone who needs it. Because of its pervasiveness and high interconnectivity, Web 3.0 includes an increasing number of devices, allowing users to have as much access to information as possible from anywhere on the planet. The Internet of Things will accompany the ride, allowing gadgets to collect valuable data and smartphones to access data stored on your computer.
- When Web 3.0 becomes reality, large corporations like Amazon, Facebook, and Google will no longer require their factory-size servers to store the data of their customers, thus losing their central authority, and the possibility to use data freely for targeted advertising. Instead, Internet users will have complete control over their data, including financial information, login information, and other credentials, reducing the number of mass-victim cybercrimes significantly. This will be related to the rise of digital personas (digital ID), which will be a verifiable identity linked to a unique credential, such as a birth certificate.
- Web 3.0 will create new communication channels and virtual connections. Websites and social platforms will become more immersive as 3D graphics become available. This is already happening, as customers can try on selected clothes or place furniture models in their homes. Representatives from a variety of industries are already utilizing the technology, particularly in education and staff training, healthcare, product showcasing, and virtual tours.
- With Web 3.0, we can access content from any device, no matter where we are. There will be no need to install anything because the selected service will be accessible directly from the browser. This type of web also allows users to use voice, visuals, and immersive user interaction, transforming the Internet into a spatial experience similar to the metaverse.
Web 3.0 – final thoughts
The introduction of personal computers and the Internet was the focus of Web 1.0. Web 2.0 was the era of interactive web platforms, social media platforms, and social networking websites. The world is now moving toward a borderless future in which we will all be connected and everything will be virtual. This is the essence of Web 3.0, which is expected to eliminate many of the shortcomings of Web 2.0 by increasing internet usage, promoting cutting-edge technologies, and providing a secure environment in which to interact with the rest of the world.
End users, for example, will retain complete control over their data, which means that tech giants will no longer store data generated by online services. The records will be fully encrypted, allowing users to choose which information they wish to share with businesses and advertising companies. This will have a significant impact on the reduction of data breaches and ID theft crimes, thereby improving web privacy and user safety.
Web 3.0 provides much-needed creative freedom to developers. Users should, however, expect improved digital experiences, as well as a more modernized and polished internet in general. It can save time and increase productivity at a low cost. For example, due to the personalized surfing experience based on search history, it’ll be possible to provide users with different search results (based on the same criteria).
Web 3.0 enhances business models by streamlining processes, eliminating the intermediary, and directly connecting computers. This improves communication and collaboration among employees, partners, and customers, resulting in a more efficient organization, greater transparency, and a more user-centric approach.
And how would its introduction be recognized? Perhaps one day you will awaken to find that your AI-powered assistant can conduct detailed research on the selected topic, draft an email to your business partner (including a semi-formal, friendly tone and two recent topics), summarize the live conference you’ve just attended, or suggest better wording for (and provide the results of) a meeting based on your partner's facial expressions. Or, when your fridge begins to project 3D models of food items onto the shelves, so you'll always store them most cost-effectively. Or when one of the intelligent search engines will initiate a Secure Messenger chat with you to provide the best-fitting, most accurate information.
As we move toward a more decentralized web, with augmented reality (AR) and artificial intelligence (AI) playing major roles in defining our use-case scenarios, we may see a second wave of the global internet revolution.
And before all that happens, it's best to keep up with the latest developments by following the newest releases published by our R&D Department (link).