The internet has come a long way from its primary intentions of open space to centralized internet and now, a concept of a decentralized version of the internet. However, traditional tech gatekeepers still have a grip on the digital economy. It is up to those creating the decentralized internet to loosen that grip, especially with the latest sentiments of manipulation by centralized Web 2.0 controllers.
Web 3.0 is now changing the narrative bringing the next revolution of the semantic web.
Emergence of internet
The internet has experienced a rapid evolution since the inception of the world wide web (www) in 1989. The internet has transformed from Web 1.0, a read-only web, to Web 2.0, allowing participation through centralized digital platforms like Facebook, Google, etc. We are currently in the Web 2.0 era, where user data is controlled by mediators, the people running the digital platforms. Users don’t have control over their creations and data on digital platforms.
Web 1.0, also known as the Static Web, offered limited information with minimal user interactions despite its reliability in the 1990s. This means that there was no feedback on content, and creating pages were uncommon – it was a one-way road. The internet back then lacked algorithms that could examine the web pages for relevant information.
Then the Web 2.0, also called the Social Web, brought interactivity to the internet with cutting-edge web technologies that enabled companies and individuals to create digital platforms. In return, social networking and content creation flourished since data could be shared and distributed across platforms. Web 2.0 made it easier for users to transact and connect with other people worldwide instantly.
However, the latest revelations point out that the Web 2.0 digital platforms have put profits first and the safety of users later. The latest iteration of the internet, Web 3.0, is now needed more than ever to save the day. Yet, the traditional tech giants stifle the space for innovation. Upstart services for decentralized platforms will have to fight their way up to enjoy the same economies of scale as traditional tech giants, and to achieve global utility and original intent of the internet – an open platform.
What is Web 3.0?
Web 3.0 is the third generation of the internet where user data will be interconnected in a decentralized way, eliminating the middlemen. It goes against the Web 2.0 iteration that is centralized and controlled by middlemen. The latest iteration will function through decentralized protocols. As a successor of earlier versions, Web 3.0 promises to offer various innovative features like ubiquity, semantic web, AI, 3D graphics, IoT, and decentralized data networks while achieving stability and security. The potential of Web 3.0 to change how the internet is utilized is immense as it is expected to democratize information access.
How Web 3.0 fixes Web 2.0
- Bottom-Up Design
Web 3.0 will be fully developed via user participation and experimentation as users will be able to contribute to the source code. This way, the proprietary code cannot be hacked or leaked since contributors have collaborated on the invention since day one. It is in contrast to the walled gardens of the traditional tech gatekeepers, where users have to adapt to any changes in products or terms.
The open and decentralized nature of the new internet will attract developers, re-align incentives, and nurture communities. All stakeholders will be protected since they contribute to the changes. The concept of Web 3.0 is built on the notion that more value can be created by a community than centralized monopolies.
- Transparent Economics
The new internet is expected to be transparent and permissionless. This gives stakeholders confidence that no personal or conflicting interests are pulling strings or controlling results in their favor. Such creative patronage supports content creation and is more friendly than the available option.
Creators in the current version of the internet lack these transparent economics. Web 2.0 leaves creators locked into the economics the digital platforms choose. Moreover, the creator has to adapt to each change the platforms make with limited alternatives. The dynamics thus offer economically feasible options for creators. Web 3.0 also offers to eliminate tax-taking gatekeepers to enable creators to generate more income from their communities.
- Aligning Incentives
Web 3.0 will be built on the pillars of aligning incentives between stakeholders: the users, creators, and the platform. Incentives empower governance and accountability that influence toxicity, control, and inclusion. Web 2.0 gatekeepers have minimal incentive to support users and stakeholders due to limited competition. Due to limited outside regulation and more self-rule, the gatekeepers can do anything they want without consequences.
On the other hand, Web 3.0 governance is decentralized through DAO or community-feedback algorithms, eliminating the chances of self-moderation. The community management takes action once a member goes astray. Conversely, community members can submit proposals to recommend changes to the platform’s direction. Web 3.0 addresses the need of creators to directly connect with their fanbase and influence governance by allowing users to own parts of the platform via tokens. Hence, they can directly benefit from the platform’s growth.
Users can also provide moderation services to prevent hate raids. Moderations in centralized platforms are difficult because a single entity locks everyone in a walled garden. Smaller communities in Web 3.0 will become a hard target for toxicity, peddling misinformation, and online trolls, signs of a plague crippling Web 2.0.
Web 3.0 will offer a customized and more personal internet experience. It will go against the conventions of the current internet of winner-takes-it-all to a community initiative. However, the transition to a decentralized and equitable internet will not be easy. The new internet users and builders will need to protect themselves from replicating the traditional tech gatekeepers’ meanness.