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The Evolution Of The World Wide Web

The World Wide Web that we all know and love today had humble beginnings. The first generation of the web, otherwise known as Web 1.0, lasted from 1989 to around 2005. With its early development pioneered by computer scientist, Tim Berners-Lee, Web 1.0 was described as a 'read-only' network, providing access to shared information and any given article but offering little to no opportunity for forms of interaction. Users were merely consuming content from static websites found on the read only web.

Web 1.0 provided the foundation for the internet that many of us depend on today. Almost everything is done online. Whether it's learning, working, meeting new people, banking, shopping, or complaining on Twitter - in this day and age, it would be difficult to live without it. The internet we use today has undoubtedly come a very long way since Web 1.0, with its arrival opening up a whole new world of possibility, bringing an array of new opportunities and new platforms, and changing our lives forever.

The Social Internet

The idea for the original web evolved over the years, growing and developing into its current form. The term 'Web 2.0' was originally coined in around 1999 by Darcy DiNucci, although made popular by Tim O'Reilly and Dale Dougherty in late 2004 with many of the first Web 2.o websites beginning to emerge in late 2003. Distinguishing itself from Web 1.0 as read-only web, Web 2.0 would become the read-write web, and is the online world that we are most familiar with.

During the time of Web 2.0's emergence, more and more households were purchasing computers, with high speed internet becoming available in many new locations at relatively low prices. The internet's popularity was growing and growing, and as it became more accessible to the people, it brought a whole new wave of consumers.

The birth of Facebook in 2004 aligned perfectly with the transition from Web 1.0 to Web 2.0, becoming one of the biggest social media platforms to ever exist. And since then, the social internet has blown up, with platforms such as Uber, Airbnb etc arising during the reign of Web 2.0.

The majority of people today own a smartphone, and the mobile revolution provided a whole new access to the internet, making it available to us anytime, anywhere. Many of today's websites and popular apps are centred around participation and collaboration, with the birth of Web 2.0 focusing on allowing opportunities for interactivity rather than read only pages. Other social media websites such as Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Snapchat and TikTok provide a voice and a platform for users to create their own content, share content as well as consume it. Nowadays, ask any kid what they want to be when they grow up and they will tell you that they want to be a YouTuber.

Introducing Web 3.0

From Web 2.0, the next iteration of the web evolved into what is known as Web 3.0. Currently a work in progress, Web 3.0 refers to the third generation of the World Wide Web - bringing to fruition the idea of a decentralized internet, an openness of the web and a greater utility for the user.

Blockchain Based Technology

The new version of the World Wide Web, Web 3.0, is that it is going to be based on blockchain technology, incorporating concepts such as decentralization and token based economics.

A decentralized web brings a peer to peer approach, eradicating the middle man, and empowering its users against the giants of Web 2.0. Any user of social media may or may not know that our identity and our data is held prisoner from the moment we sign up.

Some of the biggest names in tech such as Google, Facebook and Microsoft make a profit from user data, something Web 3.0 will enable us to be compensated for. This means that users will eventually be able to sell their own data to advertisers all while maintaining ownership and privacy over data.

By giving ownership back to its users, Web 3.0 allows the people to make the choice of how their data will be used, and who it will be used by. From read-only to read-write, Web3 brings a new version with read-write-own.

Everything will be tokenized, meaning the user will have complete control over their online interactions.

Enhanced User Experience

One of the main aims of Web 3.0 is to allow for more efficient searching. 'The Semantic Web', which is an extension of the web, will make data readable to machines. Today, users are required to search keywords in order to find content, however, the idea for the semantic web is to update software programmes with metadata that can be interpreted by machines, making use of artificial intelligence and machine learning.

Advanced technologies such as machine learning will allow machines to be able to read and understand not only the concept of data, but also the context of it, thus bringing more accurate results and an enhanced experience for the user.

In addition this, Web 3.0 will also be more immersive. Digital assistants such as Siri and Alexa could be considered examples of Web 3.0 applications, which combine artificial intelligence and voice recognition. In the future, we may find ourselves relying much more on using voices or gestures to interact with technology, as opposed to keyboards.

A More Reliable Network

Web 2.0 relies on a single server which handles all of the processing, a centralized control - whereas Web 3.0 will have a decentralised data network, commonly referred to as the D-Web. A decentralized data network is controlled by multiple domain controllers. The beauty of a decentralized web is if one server should fail, then it isn't an issue as multiple machines share the network load, known as decentralized autonomous organizations, or DAO for short. This also makes the network much easier to scale, as more machines can be added for further computing power. DAO's rely on each community member and are built with one main purpose, which is to work towards a shared goal.

Decentralized Finance

It would be difficult to ignore decentralized finance, or DeFi, when discussing Web 3.0, as it is the fastest growing blockchain based category and most well known part of the internet's third iteration.

DeFi uses smart contracts found on a blockchain, to provide services such as lending, borrowing, payments, asset management, that does not require a trusted third party.

Another example of DeFi being beneficial is that it allows money to be stored in a secure, digital wallet as opposed to keeping it in bank accounts, eliminating fees that banks can unfairly charge us for utilising their services.

Decentralized finance is available to anyone with an internet connection without the need for approval, as well as allowing us to transfer funds in seconds.

A Third Generation Website

Apple's Siri is an example of a Web 3.o application, as well as Wolfram Alpha which is a search engine.

There are many forms of search engines available to us, but Web 3.0 website Wolfram Alpha will focus the search to what the users really want. Occasionally with Google we can find ourselves scrolling until we finally find what we're looking for, whereas with the semantic web and technologies introduced with Web 3.0, results become more accurate and cater to the users wants and needs.

Siri and Alexa are apps that we are a bit more familiar with, using artificial intelligence, machine learning and voice recognition to perform actions or answer questions. Companies like Apple have been investing heavily in Web 3.0 technologies, with new business arising as part of the semantic web.

From Web 1.0 To Web 3.0

The majority of our lives are spent online, whether we like it or not. There are apps and websites for literally everything and we can access them with the click of a button, speak to someone we've never met with a simple right swipe, search for anything online and it will immediately become available to us. It's fair to say that the internet has come a long way since the 80's and it's not going to stop now. At the minute, Web 3.0 seems like a pipe dream, a Utopia of data ownership and AI, built on a vision of how the internet shouldn't be (Web 2.0). It's still being built so watch this space.