In a relatively short period of time, the information superhighway known as the internet has experienced a significant evolution.
In the beginning, we had what would later come to be known as Web 1.0 – a term that was coined by tech author Darcy DiNucci.
Web 1.0 refers to the internet of the early to mid-90s. This period was defined by things like static web pages, website content stored in files, proprietary HTML tags, and guestbooks. 1.0 was the age of the dial-up connection – a time when the thought of talking to your best friend on a landline and surfing the internet at the same time was unfathomable. Those who logged into their e-mail accounts during this period were likely greeted by a robotic voice that said, “you’ve got mail.”
Web 2.0 – When the internet went social
As the 20th century gave way to the 21st, the internet we know today began to take shape – resulting in what is now referred to as Web 2.0. The term Web 2.0 was also coined by Darcy DiNucci and was popularized in 2004.
Web 2.0 is commonly used to refer to the period when the static website, for the most part, became a thing of the past. User-generated content, an emphasis on user experience, and improved interoperability are the characteristics associated with the web’s 2nd stage.
As world-renowned sociologist George Ritzer put it:
“What defines Web 2.0 is the fact that material on it is generated by the users (consumers) rather than the producers of the system. Thus, those who operate on Web 2.0 can be called prosumers because they simultaneously produce what they consume such as the interaction on Facebook and the entries on Wikipedia.”
When Web 2.0 emerged it marked the end of slow dial-up connections and the days when downloading just about anything would take the better part of an afternoon.
These improvements helped the internet’s worldwide user base increase from 738 million to around 3.2 billion, between 2000-2015.
Unfortunately, the internet revolution has had some major drawbacks as well – especially the area of personal privacy. With over 3.2 billion users online, the amount of personal data available on the web is seemingly infinite and also extremely valuable.
As The Internet of Blockchain’s founder Matteo Gianpietro Zago so eloquently explained:
“Big digital corporations realized, personal information is an enormously valuable asset. So began the mass stockpiling of data in centralized servers, with Amazon, Facebook, and Twitter, the biggest custodians. People sacrificed security for the convenience of these services; whether they knew it or not, their identities, browsing habits, searches, and online shopping information was sold to the highest bidder.”
In essence, the emergence of Web 2.0 meant that privacy, in many ways, had become a thing of the past. Not only were companies sharing their user’s info –they were also profiting from doing so – often without the user’s consent.
The lack of privacy and consent when it comes to how one’s personal data is being used, helped set the stage for the next generation of the internet – Web 3.0.
Web 3 – Take control of your digital identity
In stark contrast to Web 2.0, 3.0 is all about decentralization. More specifically, it’s about moving away from search engines, chat application, and social media outlets that are dependent on a single company or organization to function.
This new version of the internet is focused on giving users more (if not complete) control over how their information is being used and who can access it. This evolution is possible, due to the introduction of Blockchain technology. Blockchains provide a trust-less platform where the data being utilized is fully encrypted.
Web 3.0 offers users several benefits. Firstly, and arguably most importantly, it allows folks to share their data with whom they chose and with their consent. Users can store their encrypted data on a blockchain, instead of handing it over to big corporations. With 3.0 there is no central point of control and users own their information.
Moreover, this new version of the internet will make life much more difficult for hackers. With a decentralized net, cybercriminals won’t be able to simply hack a single company and potentially gain access to millions of user’s data.
While 3.0 is still taking shape and being refined, we have already seen several decentralized services and platforms introduced. For example, services like Storj are the decentralized equivalents to the Dropbox and Google Drives of the world. Experty.io could be considered Web 3.0’s answer to Skype.
With all its features, benefits, and services – in the end – Web 3.0 is about giving the general public the opportunity to take back the internet and reintroduce privacy to the digital age.
As author and philosopher Ayn Rand once wrote:
“Civilization is the progress toward a society of privacy. The savage’s whole existence is public, ruled by the laws of his tribe. Civilization is the process of setting man free from men.”