What are the Webs and what do they do?
The internet was first implemented into our society in 1986, and was formally known as Web1, or Web 1.0. With growing digitalisation globally 63.1% of the world’s population now use the internet, so it’s fair to say that many of us are quite familiar with its basic concept. That being said, there are different versions of the web which are accessible to us, with each web variation being better than the previous. For example, did you know that currently we all use Web2 for our daily access to the internet, including scrolling on social media and general browsing?
So, with the continual progression in mind, each version of the Web holds common traits, including the fact that they all deal with relationships between information and users. Additionally, each Web version relies on the internet to carry out their tasks, and they each have offered end-users a ‘read’ function.
Web1 (also referred to as Web 1.0) started our earlier ventures into the World Wide Web. Running from approximately 1991 to 2004, it was our entrance to information such as personal pages, digital directories and even photography websites. The global network grew from the origins with the Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). During the time of launch there were far fewer content creators, and the majority of consumers were purely turning to Web1 for access to content. Web1 was the innocent time for the world of the internet, with many of us holding personal web pages that sat on free web hosting services and servers. Yup, we’re referring to Friendster and other fun time-killers. Remember the cheesy glittery backgrounds and selfies we all used to pose for on our digital cameras?
Key tropes of Web1:
- Static pages
- Content from server files
- Pages being built on a common gateway interface
- Simple builds such as frames and tables to position elements on a page.
In essence, Web1 was the beginning of our now multi-functional web. It’s often referred to as the ‘read only’ web, playing on the fact that it lacked interaction, and was mainly used to read about things and eventually were offered a text chat feature that was rather simple (not MSN vibes).
Unsurprisingly also referred to as Web 2.0, the name refers to the interactive space that we know and love today. Sadly, it sits like the middle child – compared to its older sibling, Web1, and the youngest and most promising child, Web3. Web2’s most significant development was its sudden growth in use for users who were now able to enter information in a variety of formats and send it back to the server, to be communicated with in real time. This termed its name as the ‘read/write’ phase of the Internet. But what’s often not noted in the comparative pieces of what each Web is, is the fundamental socio-economic shifts we have seen in society because of the advancement in what we refer to as the Internet.
Information became more targeted than Web1, with users being able to gain targeted information and results rather than trailing through endless content. This is referred to as non-linear information because it lacked restriction. The great thing about Web2 is its boost from cloud technology, enhancing web-delivered services. And thus, was born the social web. Additionally, to the social media growth with Web2, the other significant evolution was the shift from static content to dynamic content.
Of course, Web2 is a derivative of Web1 and so they hold many resemblances. Some of the most poignant features of the refreshed Internet include:
- Sorting of information depending on user needs
- Refined content availability depending on the user input
- Communication flow between site owners and users through online commenting.
Web2’s fame was catapulted by the first Web2 conference (later known as the Web2 Summit) in 1999 and highlighted the modifications to Web1, which reinvents user experience. With so much social engagement available in the renewed Internet, users and companies began to profit off ecommerce and self-promotional campaigns. There are several platforms and tools which now welcome people to share their products, experiences, thoughts and more – through a range of formats. So, for those who never enjoyed the task of trailing through written content to find an answer, they now have the option to listen or watch to learn instead. The higher level of interaction has also fed into our economy because people are able to learn more about products, receive targeted information and merchants are able to promote themselves. Hobbies became careers and small businesses launched to global success, and the list goes on. After all, the power in the word of mouth remains unwavered. Some of the post popular tools for users now include podcasting, blogging (duh), social media, content voting, content curation, networking and tagging.
What are some of the Web2 applications?
Web2 is a host for innumerable applications that are known globally including:
- Web applications: Google docs
- Video content: YouTube
- Blogs: WordPress
- Social networking: Facebook
- Microblogs: Twitter
- Podcasts: Restream
- Content hosting: GoDaddy.
The benefits of all this growth and connectivity on our World Wide Web was the dramatic decrease in communication cost. The free (mostly) resource has also created opportunities for a more inclusive and collaborative world, bringing communities together from all backgrounds. As mentioned above, businesses are now engaging with customers without having to unlock a shop front door, people build new friendships, career prospects have grown, and education has become more readily available. It’s extremely cool stuff.
By now it’s no surprise that Web3 is often also referred to as Web 3.0. Web3 is quite literally the future of the WWW, coupled with copious amounts of artificial intelligence which will drive data and unique experiences. The concept and evolution of the futuristic web came from the Ethereum co-creator Gavin Woods in 2014, based on the idea that the Internet would become decentralised because it would function on blockchain technology. So, where Web2 gave us autonomy to make decision, create, converse and express; Web3 would further this with more ownership and decision-making power being in the hands of the community. Because of the powershift, the futuristic Web is believed to be an information tool of freedom and democracy.
How will it achieve this?
The Semantic Web (Web3) is set to establish the worlds information in a way that is more ‘reasonable’ than the likes of Google with a better existing engine plan. With this, the web will facilitate domain-based structures to use machine learning to go beyond keyword matching, and instead use data to reason and make new informed conclusions. In this, data available on the Web3 will not be owned but shared – and thus pushing power into the hands of the community.
Jovi Overo, Managing Director of Unlimit BaaS commented: “In a Web3 World, the need to rely on processes that depend on human judgement (reflected in our biases) which punish marginalised communities will be a thing of the past. Web3 allows for greater transparency and fairness and could open financial products by allowing, as an example, borrowers, to get a yes/no decision. Not one based on human judgement, but one based on an algorithm that has the user’s financial profile and transaction history as represented on the blockchain.”
Some of the main features of Web3 will include:
- Semantic web: Web capabilities will be able to search and analyse content, rather than keywords, to increase relevance of shareable content
- AI: Web3 will be able to differentiate information in a similar way to humans, providing more accurate results
- 3D graphics: As we see in games, e-commerce items, home guides, hotel tours, etc.
- Smart contracts
- Accessibility: Content is available through every device which is connected to the web
- Connectivity: Enhanced user experience
Web1 vs Web2 vs Web3: What’s the Difference in Summary?
What’s to be expected in the future?
There is no certainty at current of when Web3 will be introduced and implemented. There’s speculation about what will drive change, such as cryptocurrencies and decentralised technology to store user data. Online participation will be a deciding factor in the future of the Web – how people want to use it, what people share, etc. It’s clear that Web3 will bring a greater sense of influence from the everyday citizen online which will in turn shape our society, through sharing of opinions and interests.
Moreover, there is already talk of Web4!! But at this point we can only theorise what we would see from this future Web. Some tech experts have speculated that Web 4.0 would become the amalgamation of sensory experience and technology, using physical implants. Giving us science fiction vibes with a slight Westworld twist here. No matter what, we’re years away from the creation of Web4, let alone its implementation. At present we can anticipate the implementation of Web3 and the new experiences it would bring for civilisation.