The internet has gone through two pivotal stages, with a pivot to the third being well underway. You may not be aware of it but just by reading this, you're participating in Web 2.0. Let's break down the fundamental differences between Web 1.0, 2.0, and especially 3.0.
Web 1.0 was the original internet, and it looked something like this:
The internet that spawned during the '90s was very simple. Web developers built websites that consisted of simple text and images. There was no way for a user to interact with content, and no social features, which is why Web 1.0 is often considered the "read-only web".
Along came Web2 in the early 2000s, which opened the internet up to interaction and social features. All of a sudden we all had the ability to both create and curate content, through online forums, blogs, and social media platforms.
The power no longer lived only in the web developers' hands - it became a symbiotic relationship between the creator and the user. For example, imagine what your favorite social media platform would be if it didn't have all of its users to share and create the content it serves to everyone. Probably nothing.
The downside to Web 2.0 is that the popular platforms we use every day have a primary goal: to monetize. They accomplish this by storing huge troves of information about us (that they often handle recklessly), serving us large amounts of ads, and ultimately prioritizing their revenue above their user experiences.
Understanding Web3 is a lot easier when you think about the power structure of the internet:
- In Web1, web developers and tech companies held all of the creative control while the users were strictly consumers.
- In Web2, large tech companies and platforms gained absurd amounts of information and money by enabling their users to become creators and generate the content themselves.
- In Web3, the goal is to shift the power and benefit to the users and people even further.
Let's use Twitter as an example. Twitter relies on all of its users to create the content, all the while taking 100% of the profit it makes from ads—and there's nothing we can do about it. What if you sent out a viral tweet and received a majority of the ad revenue from your tweet impressions? That seems fair to me.
Web3 is about users getting the cut and control they deserve for their information and data, by utilizing new technologies (such as blockchains) to loosen the grip that massive centralized entities have on us. If you have read any of my previous newsletters, you probably understand Web3 more than you realize. Things like bitcoin, NFTs, and BitClout are already showing us the direction in which the internet is heading. They are each centered around a grand theme of decentralization.