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Web 2.0 and Web 3.0 – What is the difference?

If you’ve been looking into blockchains, NFTs and cryptocurrency you would have come across Web 2.0 and Web 3.0 but what exactly are they? What is the difference between the two? Where did Web 1.0 come in? Let’s have a look shall we…

Starting at the beginning. Web 1.0, in short, was the first “phase” of the web. Cascading Style Sheets (CSS – a stylesheet language used to describe the presentation of a document written in HTML or XML) didn’t yet exist. If you’re still trying to visualise what Web 1.0 would look like online, it lasted from the 1980s till 2005. Remember ICT classes in primary school? Yeah that kinda vibe. 

Now, let’s get into Web 2.0 which is the internet as we know it today. We moved from static to dynamic content and that’s where CSS comes in and allowed us to interact with the content displayed on websites. Other inventions such as JavaScript and the iconic HTML also made this possible. 

Be it social media, blogging, podcasting or social bookmarking — Web 2.0 is completely interaction-based. We engage through texts and comments, and we can easily attach and share content like images and music with other people. Think Facebook, Google and YouTube. 

The issue with Web 2.0 is that everything is centralised. You have to trust certain companies. And this has not turned out well for regular citizens with numerous data breaches and digital privacy intrusions. You don’t own your data with Web 2.0. It’s held on a third-party server.

Up till now, it’s been safe territory. We have covered the present day and everything mentioned is pretty relatable. Web 3.0 is where we enter a different realm. 

Web 3.0 is a Semantic Web. This means that rather than just searching for content based on keywords or numbers, we can use AI to understand the semantics (i.e. meaning) of the content on the web. This would allow machines to understand and interpret information like humans (instead of like machines). The main purpose of the Semantic Web is to enable users to find, share and combine information more easily.

Ok so where do blockchains come into that? Well, the term “Web 3.0” has evolved to mean a lot more than just the Semantic web. More specifically, blockchain enthusiasts who are building Dapps use the term “Web 3.0” to describe the idea of building applications on an open and decentralised architecture.

Web 3.0 is not monopolised, so there are not really any central organisations that have captured the market. Web3.0 is essentially built on:

  • Distributed Ledger Technology (i.e. blockchain)
  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality
  • Machine Learning
  • Self-Sovereign Identity (SSI)
  • Decentralisation (dApps)
  • Individual Control of Data

Remember that the two defining features of Web 3.0 would be interactivity and interconnectedness. You are connected to everything without having to prove yourself to a central party that acts as an intermediary. This is a key point, though some could say that the marketplace/blockchain itself is the third party.

What problems can Web 3.0 solve? 

Many profit-making focused platforms (take AirBnB or Depop which takes a big paypal cut post transactions) do not offer the most ‘impartial’ support in the event of problems. This is to be expected with a for-profit company looking to expand its presence. A Web 3.0 platform can remove this issue. Imagine a decentralised rental marketplace built on a blockchain. You don’t have to meet the owners or even a receptionist because you can enter the home with your SSI or passcode for smart lock entry. An NFT can even be created for temporary ‘ownership’. Appliances could be connected to the blockchain in a smart home.

The same goes for job marketplaces like Fiverr and Upwork.  In 2019, UpWork introduced the concept of ‘connects’ where freelancers had to pay to apply for jobs. They called it a ‘restructuring’ to ‘benefit the marketplace’. The result was that many freelancers were rejected from UpWork and many more could not afford to work. It also promoted the already successful/profitable freelancers who don’t care as much about these fees while discriminating against the newer freelancers, especially from less affluent regions.

However, within Web 3.0, many DLT companies are looking to bring more equity into the gig marketplace. For instance, H3RO3S (pronounced ‘Heroes’) is looking to create a completely new marketplace aimed at students and freelancers.

Overall, we hope that Web 3.0 will deliver the equity promised.

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