From Web 2.0 to Web3 - What’s the Difference?
17 Feb 2022
17 February 2022
5 min read
As more and more people become familiar with the concept of cryptocurrency, more and more people come across the terms "Web 2.0" and "Web3". You might be wondering what these buzzwords are and how they are relevant in this time and age. Well, the internet, as we know, has been through many uninterrupted flows of big and small innovations created by passionate people before reaching the stage that it is in now. Web 2.0 and Web3 are considered generations of internet services, and their distinct variations and implications are effectively captured in this article.
A brief history of the Web
"Web 2.0" and "Web3" are referred to as the successive phases of the internet that precede "Web 1.0", the original version of the internet.
Initially, the web, a commonly used term for the World Wide Web, was used by the military, academics, researchers, and scientists. Its commercial potential was not clear for all to see at this time. This era existed roughly between the 90s and mid-20s and is characterized by websites with static content that was read-only without much interactivity. However, this phase was considered decentralized because it used open-source internet protocols, from which anyone could build on without permission from a central authority.
As more people became aware of the internet and more industries began to adopt the power of the web, dominant shifts kicked off. After Web 1.0 sprung Web 2.0, wherein the digitization of the physical world essentially began, now we have Web3 taking over by storm and placing the internet at the threshold of another technological leap.
What is Web 2.0?
Web 2.0 moved the world from static desktop web pages created for information consumption that served from expensive servers to interactive experiences and user-generated content, usability, and interoperability for end users. It is also referred to as the Interactive and Social Web.
Web 2.0 modified the way web pages were designed and used. For the first time, any web user could create any content, upload a video or photos, write and publish books, comment on people's posts and allow millions of people to see it. It gave birth to social media networks and will remain protagonists of the world wide web for years to come.
It is characterized by innovative, user-friendly experiences which provide a new way of communicating. This is seen on blogging platforms like Tumblr and WordPress, social networks like Facebook and Instagram, and social news sites like Digg and Reddit (Wikipedia).
Companies that provide information and communication platform began to flourish and as their apps increase in popularity, so does their user base. However, it came with a trade-off - the supply of personal and confidential data in exchange for direct participation in the network. The backend code runs on centralized servers, and information is owned and controlled by single authority companies.
Features of Web 2.0
The following are the key features that define Web 2.0:
- User-centered: Its websites are easy enough to use and don't stand in the way of people using the internet to share their knowledge, allow free sorting of information, and permit users to retrieve and classify information collectively.
- One-way information flow: The flow of information is between the website owner and website users using evaluation & online commenting.
- Usage of APIs as a software intermediary in websites allows applications to talk to each other.
What is Web3?
The third version of the internet, Web3, is the future internet and is the age of content generation where services run on decentralized networks or blockchains. It was initially called the Semantic Web by the World Wide Web creator, Tim Berner Lee, and gives rise to a more autonomous, intelligent, and open internet.
Built on blockchain technology, Web3 includes Machine Learning (ML), Big Data, Natural Language Programming (NLP), Decentralised Ledger Technology (DLT), etc., as websites and apps can process information in an intelligent human-like way using these technologies.
Data in Web3 is interconnected in a decentralized way in which digital applications or programs exist with their backend code running on the blockchain or peer-to-peer (P2P) network - free from control by a single authority, which is a giant leap forward to the Web 2.0, where data is primarily stored in centralized repositories. This approach changes the narrative by presenting liberty into the hands of individuals and communities instead of centralized institutions that could abuse the data and identity of individuals.
It takes on a "read-write-execute" approach. By combining a semantic markup and web services, Web3 allows applications to speak directly to each other and for broader searches for information through simpler interfaces.
Features of Web3
The following are the main features that can help us define Web 3.0:
- Semantic Web: The fundamental component of Web3 is the Semantic Web. The semantic web improves web technologies by allowing users to create, share and connect content through research and analysis to understand the meaning of words rather than keywords or numbers.
- Artificial Intelligence: Web3 enables computers to distinguish information like humans to provide faster and more relevant results. Computers are now more intelligent to fulfill the requirements of their users.
- 3D Graphics: 3-D designs are used widely in Web3 websites, including museum guides, computer games, e-commerce, geospatial contexts, etc.
- Connectivity: With the nature of the semantic web with semantic metadata, information is more connected. As a result, the user experience gets to another level of connectivity that leverages all available knowledge.
Comparison between Web 2.0 and Web3
Now that we know the defining features of Web 2.0 and Web3, we can now dig a little deeper into each one by comparing one against the other.
- Nature Decentralization is a core tenet of Web3. With this refreshing improvement, no central authority controls the content and imposes indiscriminate censorship, unlike Web 2.0, which is characterized by backend code running on centralized servers. Information is owned and managed by a single authority. A decentralized platform means it becomes more censorship-resistant.
- Scalability On Web3, transactions are slower because they're decentralized. The changes to a state like a payment need to be processed by a miner and propagated across the entire network.
- Permissions On Web3, no one can block you or deny you access to any service. On Web 2.0, since a central authority controls user permissions, users could be denied access to any service if they fail to comply with community guidelines.
- Connectivity On Web3, content is more connected than in the preceding web eras. With technologies such as the "Internet of Things" (IoT), an increasing number of everyday devices can get connected seamlessly.
- Drive Three core layers of innovation primarily drive the birth of Web 2.0: mobile, social, and cloud, while Web3 is built on edge computing, decentralized data networks, and artificial intelligence.
- Performance For applications on Web 2.0, there is usually higher performance (higher throughput, fewer total computational resources expended), and they are easier to implement. While Dapps running on Web3 are generally of lower performance (lower throughput, more comprehensive computational resources expended) and are more complex to implement.
- Source of truth On Web 2.0, in the case of conflicting data, a resolution is clear and easy since the ultimate source of truth is the central authority. On Web3, if peers make conflicting claims about the state of data on which participants are meant to be synchronized, a protocol is needed for dispute resolution.
- Participation Participation in Web 2.0 networks is controlled by the central authority. While on Web3 networks, anyone can participate, and the cost of the involvement is meager.
Looking back at the read-only nature of Web 1.0, we can say that Web 2.0 became the read-write era, and Web3 is the read-write-execute era. Now, people can interact with websites and create more value than ever before through digital advertising. At this point, to think that Web 2.0 is gone, with the presence of Web3, may not stand on a decent premise. Perhaps, we should eagerly embrace the best aspects of Web3 that can remedy the downsides of Web 2.0.
Some downsides include the dangers of centralization and security risks, which can threaten political systems since data theft, censorship, and spam thrive on the internet. With Web3, these dangers are diluted since a decentralized way exists to build the next iteration of internet products and services.
Blessing Krofegha is a Software Engineer Based in Lagos Nigeria, with a burning desire to contribute to making the web awesome for all, by writing and building solutions.See other articles by Blessing