Unpacking web3: What it is and why you should care

With web1, technology focused on providing easy access to information. With web2, dynamic features made it easier for users to create and share content online. But each iteration had limitations that compounded. Now, enter web3.
What is web3 and why does it matter?

Web1, web2, web3… this new terminology has thrown the world into a frenzy as everyone tries to understand the digital shift the internet has and continues to experience. 

But isn’t it all just “the Internet?” Why call it “web3” when it uses the same underlying web infrastructure?

Right now, few understand the nuanced technological transformations that led to web3. And even fewer people understand why it all happened. Leaving a massive opening for businesses and curious minds alike to learn, innovate, and position themselves to better take advantage of what this exciting future has to offer. 

We’ll take a peek behind the scenes at the internet’s evolution to gain invaluable insights into how web3 will impact and transform people's lives forever. 

But before we do any of that, you have to understand where we are now and how we got here in the first place. 

Here’s a brief overview of the internet’s evolution: 

Web1: The originator

As the official first generation of the internet, web1 focused on providing easy access to information through static content such as text, images, and videos. At this stage, websites were typically built using HTML and primarily used for conveying information rather than prioritizing user interaction. 

Interacting with web1 and available content

  • Simple text and image-based content, such as articles, product descriptions, and static pages.
  • Limited forms of user interaction, such as contact or feedback forms, where users could submit information to a website owner but not receive an immediate response.
  • Basic hyperlinking between pages within a website or across different websites.
  • Limited use of multimedia, such as small images or simple animations.
  • Lack of user-generated content, such as comments or ratings.

The limitations of web1

  • Interactivity: Users could only read the content on a website but could not interact with it.
  • Personalization: Websites could not adapt to individual users' preferences.
  • Accessibility: Many websites were not accessible to users with disabilities.
  • Scalability: Websites could only handle small amounts of traffic.

These interactions were limited by the technology of the time, but they set the stage for the more dynamic and interactive web2, which focused on user interactivity and scalability. 

Web2: The content creator

Known as the participatory or social web, web2 refers to the second generation of the internet. This new phase introduced dynamic features that made it easier for users to create and share content online. While web2 increased interactivity, personalization, and scalability, new challenges arose that led to the development of web3. 

Interacting with web2 and available content

  • Rich and dynamic content, such as videos, podcasts, and blogs, and user-generated content, such as reviews, ratings, and comments.
  • Social media networks that allow for more user-to-user interaction, such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. 
  • Online collaboration and productivity tools, such as Google Docs and Trello.
  • Streaming services with dynamic content, such as Netflix and YouTube.
  • Interactive applications, such as games and virtual worlds, that provide a more immersive experience for users.

These advancements in technology and user experiences have enabled more connected and engaged online communities and have continued to drive the evolution of the World Wide Web.

The limitations of web2

  • Interoperability: Web2 platforms were and continue to be siloed, meaning that data and content are not easily shared between platforms.
  • Personalization: Web2 platforms can’t truly adapt to individual users' preferences, especially when providing relevant information or customization.
  • Security: Web2 platforms are more susceptible to user data and information breaches.

These issues and limitations would end up compounding until the advent of web3 technology. This new tech promises to revolutionize how we interact and do business online. Enter web3. 

Web3: The innovator 

Web3 addresses the limitations of its predecessors by creating a more interoperable, intelligent, and flexible online experience. With the help of emerging technologies, such as blockchain and artificial intelligence, the web can better understand content and data to provide more personalized, relevant information and better user privacy.

In contrast to web1 and web2, which are centralized and controlled by a few companies, web3 is decentralized and controlled by a network of computers that validate transactions and maintain the system's integrity. This decentralization makes web3 more secure and resistant to fraud and censorship.

Web3 is being built to respond to the concerns many experienced in web2 and web1. What we build, how we build it, and who we build for are at the crux of the web3 movement. While we can’t expect web3 to solve every issue that stemmed from its predecessors immediately, fundamental principles guide the next generation of builders.

Third time’s a charm: What web3 means for you

Web3 has the potential to revolutionize the way we interact and do business online by providing a flexible and transparent platform for transactions and communication. It can disrupt industries and create new opportunities for both companies and individuals.

This new frontier revolutionizes how we interact with the digital world by giving us complete control over our digital identities.

With web3, you can finally create a digital version of yourself anchored to your physical identity and take it wherever you go. Easily and quickly prove who you are, your age, qualifications, and more with digital credentials verified by any service or application you interact with. And this is just the beginning. 

The main advantages of web3 include:

  • Decentralization: Web3 moves data from centralized entities to allow users more control over their data and information. Users can take more ownership over their online identity and activity.
  • Interoperability: Web3 allows users to share data and information across different platforms and networks. That means users can have a more seamless experience across apps and websites.
  • Personalization: Web3 allows the web to understand and adapt to the preferences of individual users, giving them more personalized and relevant online experiences.

Users will also interact with digital goods in many ways, including:

  • Use NFTs as digital identity, digital ownership, and proof of authenticity.
  • Use NFTs for gaming and in-game items.
  • Use NFTs to store information and data in a decentralized way.
  • Buy, sell, and trade unique digital items such as artwork, collectibles, and in-game items.
  • Own and verify the authenticity of digital assets, such as concert tickets, real estate, and luxury goods.
  • Access exclusive digital experiences and content, such as virtual reality experiences and live events.
  • Create and monetize your digital creations and content, such as artwork, music, and videos.
  • Participate in online communities and marketplaces built around NFTs and digital goods.

In a broad sense, web3 is the key to unlocking the full potential of the internet to help bridge and unify our physical and digital selves. Integration with web3 significantly shifts how companies and creators interact with their customers and audiences. This emergent space creates unique opportunities to make new and innovative products, experiences, and business models that empower customers and communities. 

TL;DR: What is web3?

Web3 is the 3rd evolution of the internet with an emphasis placed on personal sovereignty, data privacy, and security. This is done through the use of blockchain technology and other decentralized systems. Web3 is the version of the internet where users are able to own the data that defines their digital identity, proof of ownership over virtual assets, and grow closer to the businesses and brands they love. 

Next time you’re sitting around the dinner table explaining web3 to your family or colleagues, lay a foundation of the Internet’s evolution, and go from there:

  • Web1 = Static internet (Encyclopedias and information)
  • Web2 = Interactive internet (Facebook, Google, social media)
  • Web3 = Internet ownership (Digital currency, NFTs, blockchain)

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