Web3, originally called the Semantic Web by World Wide Web inventor Tim Berners-Lee, is an idea for a new iteration of the World Wide Web revolving around concepts such as decentralization and token-based economics where websites and apps will be able to process information in a smart human-like way through technologies like machine learning (ML), Big Data, decentralized ledger technology (DLT) and blockchain technology.
The term "Web3" was originally coined in 2014 by Gavin Wood, known as founder of Polkadot and co-founder of Ethereum, who referred to Web3 as a "decentralized online ecosystem based on blockchain". This idea started gaining interest in 2021 beginning with cryptocurrency enthusiasts communities and then moving to venture capital firms and large technology companies.
Background and Evolution
If Web3 signals the third iteration of the Web, what were the previous two?.
Web 1.0, also called the “Static Web”, represents the internet as we knew it in the 1990s; a space that granted access to static information with little to no user interaction. Users of Web 1.0 were consumers of content and not producers.
Web 3.0 is the next stage of the web evolution which will make the internet more intelligent and able to process information with near-human-like intelligence through the power of AI systems. This feature will enable the creation and distribution of highly-tailored content straight to every internet consumer.
Key FeaturesWeb3 is meant to be a solution to over-centralization of the web by a few Big Tech companies. Some have expressed the notion that Web3 could improve data security, scalability, and privacy beyond what is currently possible with Web 2.0 platforms through concepts like Decentralized Autonomous Organizations (DAOs), Decentralized Finance (DeFi), and Self-sovereign identity, which will allow users to identify themselves without relying on authentication systems in which assessing identities would require a trusted party to be reached.
Web 3.0 will be based on four key features: Ubiquity, Semantic Web, Artificial Intelligence and 3D Graphics.
Ubiquity: the concept of ubiquity refers to the capacity to be everywhere at the same time: in other words, omnipresent. In a certain way, Web 2.0 is already ubiquitous since, for instance, a social media user can instantly capture an image and share it (making it “ubiquitous” to anyone who has access to the social media platform), but Web 3.0 goes even beyond this concept by making the internet accessible to everyone anywhere, at any time, without the need of devices like computers and smartphones, but using any new types of smart devices as intended by the IoT (Internet of Things) technology.
Semantic Web (where Semantic(s) is the study of the relationship between words) enables computers to analyze loads of data from the Web, which includes content, transactions and links between persons. For example, sentences like ''I love Cardano'' and ''I <3 Cardano'' may differ in syntax, but they share the same semantics, since semantics only deal with the emotion or meaning of the content. In Web 3.0 machines will be able to decode meaning and emotions by analyzing data letting users have a better experience driven by enhanced data connectivity.
Artificial Intelligence will let machines read and decipher the meaning and emotions conveyed by a set of data. Although Web 2.0 presents similar capabilities, it is still predominantly human-based, which opens up room for corrupt behaviors such as biased product reviews, rigged ratings, etc. Therefore, the internet needs AI to learn how to distinguish the genuine from the fake in order to provide reliable data. As AI advances, it will ultimately be able to provide users with the best filtered and unbiased data possible.
3D Graphics: some futurists also call Web 3.0 the “Spatial Web” as it aims to blur the line between the physical and the digital by revolutionizing graphics technology, bringing into clear focus three-dimensional (3D) virtual worlds. Unlike their 2D counterparts, 3D graphics bring a new level of immersion not only in futuristic gaming applications like Decentraland, but also other sectors like real estate, health, e-commerce, and many more.
A common requirement for a Web 3.0 application is the ability to digest large-scale information and turn it into factual knowledge and useful executions for users. With that being said, these applications are still at their early stages, which means that they have a lot of room for improvement and are a far cry from how Web 3.0 apps could potentially function.
Some of the companies that are building or have products that they are transforming into Internet 3.0 applications are Amazon, Apple and Google. One example of an application using Web 3.0 technologies is Wolfram Alpha: a “computational knowledge engine” that answers questions by computation, as opposed to offering a list of webpages like search engines do. It learns from content collected on the internet, analyzing its popularity, and reaching conclusions, without the need for people to refine search terms, being able to do it alone. That’s the key difference between Web 2.0 and 3.0.