The true potential and significance of blockchain and its role in the future of the decentralized Internet, can only be understood within the context of broader technological improvements brought about by the evolution of the World Wide Web and information technology. Put simply; blockchain has the ability to revolutionize the foundations of social and economic organization. However, the blockchain can only have such potential as part of a broader ecosystem of technologies that are emerging as the next generation of the Internet.
The next generation of the Internet is called Web 3.0 or the Decentralized Web. Today, we are entering a new technology paradigm, including the rise of advanced analytics, datafication, and the Internet of Things. The blockchain will need to work cohesively with these technologies if blockchain’s true capacities are to be realized.
To understand about the future of the decentralized Internet, we first need to understand a bit about the history of the first and second Internets.
Web 1.0 started in the early 1990s. This was the first generation of the World Wide Web and was based, primarily, on the technology of http://. This worked by connecting documents on different computers and making them available over the Internet. HTML was then used to display these documents. This way, any connected computer with a browser could read these documents displayed as web pages.
This first generation of the World Wide Web was all about information. The feat of Web 1.0 is that it allowed us to access and share information more quickly and more efficiently. Hence, the nickname for Web 1.0, the Information Superhighway.
Admittedly, Web 1.0 brought on a revolution in information exchange! Still, content creators were few back then with the vast majority of users simply acting as consumers of content. You could call it static and say that Web 1.0 lacked interactivity. Of course, Web 2.0 put an end to the passive viewing of content.
With Web 2.0, users could interact on websites, collaborate, and even create content themselves. WithWeb 2.0, not only could users read from the web, but they could also write to it, and that is why Web 2.0 had the nickname, “The Read-Write Web.”
By the early 2,000s, new service sites scripting technologies, such as PHP, enabled developers to easily build applications where people could write information to a database with that information being dynamically updated every time a page is refreshed. Pretty much every website that dominates the World Wide Web today relies on this service-side scripting technology, which gave us blogging, social networking, video sharing, ebay, Amazon, YouTube, etc. Of course, these are the platforms that most internet users today spend the most time using.
The concept of Web 3.0 is nothing new, as it has been around for a while. Still, only due to developments in blockchain, web 3.0 is moving from being a concept to being something real. One of the biggest problems with Web 2.0 is that it has evoeastlved into a highly centralized beast. This means that your data is kept and your access is controlled by large companies with open and hidden agendas.
Web 3.0 is also tackling some of the pressing issues around Web 2.0, such as privacy, security, power, and control. Effectively, Web 3.0 seeks to take the power from the hands of the large corporations, who centrally own and control your information, and give the power back into the hands of the people.
Just as Web 2.0 completely disrupted Web 1.0, so, too, will Web 3.0 completely change and disrupt Web 2.0. Eventually, there will likely be a Web 4.0, and our minds can’t help but wander to consider what a Web 4.0 would even look like! Only time will tell.
The Place of Decentralized Social Media in Web 3.0
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