The Internet underwent significant changes beginning in the 1990s when several innovations were embraced by enough users and developers to become standards. Websites like Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, and YouTube all embody the Web 2.0 movement.
Although the terminology can be a little hazy, using broad strokes can help us comprehend what sparked the change from Web 1.0 to the subsequent iteration. This will also aid in our understanding of how Web3’s development will operate.
The Arrival of Web 2.0
Servers and bandwidth were pricey commodities when the Internet was only beginning to spread into homes throughout the globe. It cost a lot of money upfront to set up and maintain a site that could handle a lot of traffic. Reducing the number of assets you show the visitor was one method to mitigate this. Sites from the 1990s have a reputation for being eccentric and uninteresting in terms of aesthetics because of this. This era’s artifacts can still be found today.
The market for bandwidth and storage started to free up a little in the early to mid-2000s. Startups that were part of the “Dot-com Bubble” and made it through the devastating blow continued to implement fresh concepts for how users might engage with their websites, turning them into creators.
Websites like YouTube and MySpace got their start in this way. The latter ultimately failed, but Facebook adopted the concept. Here it is the Web 2.0 age.
Web 2.0 Was Designed for Two Crucial Things:
Sites had more assets, which improved their aesthetics significantly, made them easier to navigate, and directed users on the right route without them having to read the full menu.
Observe how websites like YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter make an effort to reduce UI clutter by avoiding huge menus and even going so far as to reduce each item to just one word (i.e., Home, Subscriptions, History, Tweet, Messages, Bookmarks, etc.). Variations on a single color scheme are used to accentuate certain items (like the Follow/Like buttons on social media sites).
Sites that permitted user-generated material saw the bulk of Internet traffic (tweets, videos, blogs, status updates, etc.).
In Web 1.0, the majority of users were consumers; in Web 2.0, websites that encouraged users to create and share their own content became more prevalent.
The websites that we now use to socialize and consume our information took momentum as the 2010s drew near, ushering in this new Internet era.
What Is Web3?
The fact that the Web 2.0 model allows for a large amount of Internet infrastructure consolidation is one of its main drawbacks. Facebook, YouTube, and Google developed into virtual monopolies that dominated a sizable portion of all Internet traffic. Due to the former’s actions, which have given rise to widespread claims of censorship, both developers and their users are now in an awkward situation.
What Is Web3?
Some people have considered decentralizing Internet services to address this problem since 2015 (but it’s very difficult to pinpoint a specific year).
Simply put, the Web3 philosophy is exclusively focused on leveraging a technology known as a blockchain to decentralize specific Web-related functions.
What Are Blockchains?
In short, blockchains are similar to databases, with the exception that you can only use them to keep and record information rather than remove it. We have already given a full description of this topic. They are typically redundant and immutable (you cannot erase something after it has been created). (Many machines spread out over the globe freely hold the contents.)
Blockchains are used by digital currencies like Bitcoin because they offer the ideal framework for creating an immutable ledger that cannot be “seized.” (It will be difficult for you to seize thousands or millions of personal computers worldwide.)
Blockchains Usually Come in Two Flavors:
Permissionless: A permissionless blockchain is one that runs on a public, open platform with no admission requirements and no limitations on who can read the ledger. A good illustration of this is Bitcoin. Want to produce more money for your own use? Mine them if you want to! Would you like to buy and trade Bitcoin?
Sure! Want to check a wallet’s transactions to see if any dubious behavior has been going on? Everything is in the open. You can interact with the blockchain however you like as long as you have a wallet, which can be made in a variety of ways for no cost.
Permissioned: A blockchain that has this property will have specific restrictions. If a video-sharing website decides it doesn’t want everyone leaving comments on videos, it may restrict access so that only users with accounts are able to do so, just as on every other website. It’s also possible that the back-end transaction model is hidden.
Why Blockchains Are Important in Web3
Blockchains are also very durable since they may be decentralized and hosted on multiple servers at once. The technology is currently developing a poor reputation because of all the scams in the cryptocurrency and digital token industries.
However, once more developed implementations emerge and it ceases to be a “wild west,” we’ll probably see this develop into an essential component of Internet services, much like Facebook and Google developed into essential components of Web 2.0.
Odysee and DTube are two instances of blockchain implementations that have already developed into largely successful projects. Both of these video-sharing platforms employ blockchains in slightly different ways. While DTube uses the blockchain to fetch movies from other websites and stores only the related comments, Odysee hosts everything wholly on the blockchain platform.
The former employs a totally permissionless implementation, whereas the latter uses a mixed permissioned blockchain.
The fact that Odysee is currently attracting millions of visitors from around the globe shows that this business model is genuinely workable for the future of the Web.
Despite what you may believe, the idea of a decentralized Web for platforms is not as new as you may assume. In fact, since 2001, there have been things like BitTorrent (a decentralized file-sharing system that uses trackers and other discovery layers).
The idea is that decentralization has historically been extremely effective with file sharing, and there is no reason why blockchains can’t support this in other domains, including social media and search engines.
Benefits and Drawbacks
Before we jump on the hype train, it’s critical to consider what we are entering into with this change in the vascular structure of the Internet:
Unless you shut down the international pipelines, a blockchain is incredibly resistant to outages, breaches, governmental censorship, and database corruption (nodes with the correct version will override corrupted ones).
Compared to the present Web 2.0 approach, the technology is more resistant to private censorship.
Users don’t need to change how they operate.
A new site that revives a previous one can be built using the preexisting blockchain and built on top of it with minimal infrastructure expenditure once a site using the blockchain goes defunct.
It will always exist if anything is immutable. You won’t be able to remove something embarrassing that you upload. The data is still in the chain even if the site in question ignores the blockchain entry, so someone might just pick it up and host it somewhere else. For malicious actors publishing retaliation porn or other illegal files, this has major ramifications.
To further emphasize the previous point, forking the entire blockchain into a divergent one with the record removed is required to remove something from a blockchain. Even then, virtually little has been accomplished as long as someone is prepared to maintain the initial link.
It is very evident that the problem of immutability will be the single significant obstacle for Web 3.0 providers to overcome. Yes, censorship resistance is admirable, but what happens when it involves material that is truly heinous or illegal in nature? Blockchain technology can be a double-edged sword in this situation, but there hasn’t been enough discussion about it. It’s probably time to start thinking about how we will function in this new paradigm.
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