Without a doubt, the Internet totally revolutionized not only the computing world but also the way humans interact, work, research, entertain, communicate, etc. No matter of their location on the globe.
A lot of effort and technology development was required for the Internet to become the network of networks that it is today. Moreover, it has evolved quite fast. Innovations and a lot of advanced technology have appeared on the stage in different moments boosting the Internet’s growth and strengthening its capabilities. To talk about Internet’s history, usually, three stages are distinguished: web 1.0, web 2.0, and web 3.0. Let us see what exactly those stages are about.
What is Web 1.0?
Web 1.0 is the first stage in the Internet’s history. It sends us to the beginning of the 90s. when the number of content creators was nothing in comparison with today’s number. It was possible to own a personal website, but due to the tools and possibilities available at that moment, most of the users were only consumers, not creators.
Web 1.0 was mostly a CDN (content delivery network) to show different information on the websites. Sites were basically, static web pages full of text and hyperlinks to interconnect among them. Their purpose was mainly informative and there was not interaction. It was rare to get any feedback between visitors and those, who are responsible for publishing the information. Moreover, it seemed to be web-only for reading. The alternative for communicating with websites was via URI (uniform resource identifier). Hyperlinks on websites gave the chance to send an e-mail directly from the HTML document.
Technical features of Web 1.0
If we are talking from the technical side, websites were static pages, mostly created through a common gateway interface (CGI) or server-side includes (SSI). Tables and frames were the tools for positioning and aligning every web page’s elements (HTML 3.2). Free hosting services or the ISP-run web servers were the popular hosting services to choose from. The server’s file system was used to deliver their content.
The way for users to find specific information was through the directories. Yahoo! And Altavista were two of the most popular directory services providers. Based on humans’ reviews and descriptions, websites were categorized. Directories were useful because the number of websites, and the web pages inside them, were low in comparison with the current. The automated technology to search online was not very efficient yet.
It was the time of the web portals, online guestbooks for visitors to confirm their visit to a website, graphics (81×31 pixels), and GIF buttons for advertising, HTML editors, basic web browsers, and operating systems.
What is Web 2.0?
In Web 2.0 or the second stage of the Internet’s evolution, static pages survived. They are still useful to inform but a big transformation took place.
The role of users turned from only being consumers to creators of content. The interaction became a key websites’ purpose, getting feedback and promoting users’ collaboration too. As a result, the creation of profiles, e-mail accounts, comments from users on websites to actively participate got popular. New tools and platforms made it possible for users to create content, express personal opinions, and share them online. Websites functionality allows them to be used as an application program, accessible from different devices.
Technical features of Web 2.0
Organizing information available online got totally optimized with the improvement of search engines’ powerful technology.
Blogs, tags, bookmarks, podcasts, social networks, voting and evaluation of content, products, and services by users, stronger use of browsers, file storage facilities, application software (app), software as a service (SaaS) came to the light. Web 2.0 gave birth to ventures like WordPress, Facebook (and its “like” button), Google, Twitter, Reddit, Youtube, Vimeo, and more that for sure are coming to your mind right now.
This way the informative web became social, interactive, and polemic.
What is Web 3.0?
The future of browsing, the third stage of the Internet’s evolution will involve changes in different aspects of its use and interaction.
Web 3.0 will be a semantic web
Meaning to evolve from the use of keywords for searching content, to technologies capable of a better-meaning comprehension of human words. It pushes to prioritize the improvement of web technologies for machines not only to match keywords, but also to analyze and reason different possibilities.
The syntax is defined as how you express something. Semantics points to the meaning of what you express. Jaguar vs Jaguar have the same syntax, but semantics can point to an animal or a luxury vehicle brand.
To achieve this objective, the use of ontological languages on machines will be needed. An ontology, in the context of information and computer sciences, is a way of presenting the features of a subject area and their relation, through the definition of a group of categories and concepts that represent it. Ontologies would be the way for machines to reason and provide more accurate and relevant search results.
Web 3.0 claims for more efficient connectivity for information
A semantic web will allow information to be connected through semantic metadata. This means more information available and easily reachable by users.
Better access to content and services no matter the place users are, through multiple applications and by simply connecting their devices to the web.
Web 3.0 will be 3D
3D design (graphics) will be incorporated to websites and services. Think about e-Commerce, tours, gaming, science, etc. PHP already allows it since PHP5.
Web 3.0 will use AI/ML
Artificial Intelligence/machine learning (AI/ML) as a mean for machines to process information as humans would do. Therefore, to supply more accurate results and to better satisfy users expectations. Many devices have dedicated processors for AI that work faster for specific task than traditional CPUs or GPUs.
Web 3.0 technology
More edge technologies will push this third revolution. Virtual and augmented reality (VR/AR), geolocation, distributed ledger technology (like blockchain) for authenticating and decentralizing information, advanced networking (5G), even more IoT (Internet of things) and sensors than the current, robots, autonomous vehicles, etc.
Web 3.0 will be a decentralized system. We can easily argue that the current Web 2.0 is decentralized enough. There are CDN networks with multiple DNS servers (LINK to DNS). Even if some servers are down, there are still enough servers who will continue to work without any downtime.
The decentralization goal of Web 3.0 is to reduce the dependency that we have related to a small number of huge companies. A key component of it is blockchain technology. It allows us to have services, that are not controlled by a single point. It can serve for payments, storage, compute power, and much more.
Blockchain might lower censorship and allow free speech, but this will also allow everybody to share fake news and inappropriate content. So, it is a double edge sword.
Web 3.0 or the “spatial web”
There’s a vision of Web 3.0 that goes further calling it the “spatial web”. It means the user experience will change from interactions through traditional interfaces (computers, tablets, smartphones’ screens), to the physical space. In other words, physical and digital layers will be merged (augmented reality).
For instance, interfaces like voice or smart glasses will be more used to interact with real-time information searched through intuitive and sensory means like haptics, computer voice, and vision, gestures, geolocation, and more commands.
The physical space will be replicated through digital twins. Geographical spaces, businesses, public and amusement areas, etc. Interaction, the way people and objects will move around through those twins, and the whole experience seem to point to a big change.
There are already examples of such technology. Mapping and modeling of maps, objects, and spaces for setting new furniture at home, building, shopping, treating illnesses… Through those digital representations, the user can visualize for planning, optimizing logistics, calculate possible scenarios, taking better decisions without being or making a thing in the real place yet.
Web 3.0 risks
The 3.0 environment described can lead to security and privacy issues that have to be considered.
Privacy could be severely threatened. Web 3.0 relies on a more personalized approach to users. Think about Marketing. In order to offer you products and services closer to your profile, the companies are checking your habits and needs. This is badly crossing the borders of users’ privacy. You break up with your partner and only minutes after you have posted it, ads of dating sites are sent to you. You check information of a remote island as a part of your job, not necessarily with tourism purposes, and seconds later, all kinds of ads overwhelm you (flight tickets, accommodation, local food, car rental, tour agencies, etc.).
It is getting common that all sorts of applications ask you for access to your whole mobile information to function. It does not matter if it is your bank application, a basic calculator, or a flashlight.
Imagine you in the future trying to check your e-mail account. You already live in the web 3.0 stage. For logging in, you do not use the old-fashioned user/password method, but an intelligent and biometric interface instead. Your voice, footprints, heart bit, temperature, pressure, gestures, body moves, walking style, etc. could be registered and compromised only by executing such a basic purpose.
Threats to privacy can scale and the more information available online of individuals and organizations, the bigger the risk. The whole Internet experience has proved through the years that new developments can be used for good and bad purposes. The chances of being hacked or defrauded could grow and personal information is gold for criminals (phishing attacks, identity theft, etc.).
Security technology, policies, and the law must be developed parallel to protect individuals and organizations. However, thinking that criminals will be stopped, and the Web 3.0 will be free of danger is not realistic at this point.
Another important issue is the dependence on technology. When was the last time you used a computer without Internet access? We will only get more dependent in the future and here comes the big worry about downtime. When the Internet is not responding, companies, factories, states, and even countries standstill.
What can we expect from web 3.0?
We can expect that Web 3.0 will bring us a highly interactive, semantic Internet, with new techs like AI, ML, AR/VR, and universal interface between different platforms. The devices we own will have less importance while SaaS solutions will completely dominate.
The subscription model will be the king, and the devices that we have at home will be just a simple interface to access the cloud services of the Internet.
How will web 3.0 change our lives?
Web 3.0 will let us access everything faster and will compute with incredible speed. Moreover, it will understand us better. We will have an interconnected world, not just the Internet, where each of your IoT devices, smartphones, computer, electro domestics, and even your car will communicate constantly. You will have a picture of your environment like have never had.
The machines will understand you better and finally, the voice will take a considerable part in our interaction with devices.
It is hard to establish a date for Web 3.0 to fully operate. The transition from 1.0 to 2.0 took approximately a decade. Currently, some of the technologies, pointed as the base of the upcoming change, already exist. However, completing the development and integrating all of them will take some time.
The Internet has totally impacted and ingrained in our lives. Changes in the social, the personal, the work, the education, the health, and the entertainment, etc. environment for sure will be influenced by Web 3.0. Just like it has happened with its predecessors Web 1.0 and 2.0. The rules and the Internet game seem to be innovative and challenging at the same time. Technology seems to be ready (or very close to) to make this change possible. Are we humans ready for the challenge?
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