Like the last post, this is a very hand wavy, just my thoughts, kind of post
With decentralized networks like Bitcoin and Ethereum growing rapidly we should take a step back and ask why are we enabling these decentralized systems. To do this we should take a look at the history of the internet. The internet has 2 prominent eras and we are currently entering the 3rd.
Web 1.0 was a very simple internet. In fact I wasn’t even alive or old enough to really experience this era of the internet, but I feel that I can still observe this point in internet history. Web 1.0 was composed of mainly a very small group of individual users hosting websites on their own computers and servers. Companies adopting webpages as a medium of business were sparce and the internet was very simple place at the time. It was a place where users we essentially anonymous. Because almost all content was self hosted, we saw the first decentralized internet. Many refer to this era as a golden era of the internet because of the simplicity and noninvasive nature. As time goes on the internet becomes unimaginably popular and because of that highly interconnected.
Web 2.0 showed the world the modern internet. We became more interconnected than imaginable. We can access what seems to be unbounded information. We can talk to almost anyone by just tweeting at them. Web 2.0 was built by social media giants, search engines, and new networks. Almost all websites are interconnected in some regard. “Sign in with Google” is plastered at almost every login page. With major tech companies having billions of users we saw major issues regarding privacy and ownership. No longer did you own the content you posted on the internet. The picture you posted of you family at Disney doesn’t belong to you. It belongs to Facebook (Meta) and lives in a series of datacenters across the world.
Web 2.0 took ownership and privacy from users. No longer did you own the server that hosted your website. You can be tracked around internet by ads and cookies. Fingerprinting technologies track you even if you try to use a privacy enabling browser. Internet companies don’t actually have a product, you the user are the product. The product tech companies sell is you. You are being sold to advertisers. To be clear the data being sold isn’t “Bob Jones at 123 Happy Lane”, it’s more like we have a group of users from age 18-25 who live in New York City and like Levi’s Jeans.
What Web 2.0 boils down to is a very expansive, knowledge filled, interconnected, and definitely not private network.
Web 3.0 is kinda undefined. Web 3.0 is more of a collection of ideas building off of Web 2.0. Web 3.0 focuses heavily decentrailization technology such as blockchains, decentralized storage, and edge computing. Web 3.0 is also very fixated on privacy, something lacking from Web 2.0. Web 3.0 should bring ownership back to the user. Ownership of what though? Ownership of data and assets. Web 3.0 plans to decentralize many Web 2.0 technologies such as social media and finanical services. Decentralizing social media is a double edged sword, on one hand the user has ownership of their posts and censorship is mitigated. On the other hand there is more permanency than previously on Web 2.0. Beyond just cryptocurrency we have systems like torrents, Tor, and IPFS, etc. These systems enable anyone to host a node in the network and participate the in decentralization. Decentrailized systems are generally good for ownership and privacy, but lack in the ease of use compared to Web 2.0 tech (ie: using AWS S3 for file storage). Bring ease of use to decentralized systems will be critical to the future of Web 3.0. I am hopeful for a more private internet and hopefully Web 3.0 will make this a reality.
In conclusion Web 1.0 was decentralized, Web 2.0 is centralized, Web 3.0 hopes to be decentralized. Maybe there is a cycle that converges toward centralization, but only time will tell.