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Evolution of the Web
Internet as we know it has evolved exponentially in the past couple of decades. From its access limited to only a select few people and cyber cafes, it’s never been more accessible now. So much that a common person cannot think of leading their life without the World Wide Web. And as we all know, its form and use have been changing rapidly, especially in the past 10 years.
A fascinating time to exist on earth for sure.
While the evolution of each stage of the internet has been a gradual transition, experts have found it quite easy to divide it into 3 stages. Web 1.0, Web 2.0, and the latest one Web 3.0. Without any further ado, let’s jump in deeper into what each of these terms and stages mean:
**This might seem like a mini-history lesson, but bear with us. We think it’s extremely essential to understand the roots of internet as we know today and get why it evolved so too.
1991 - 2004
Usually referred to as the read-only web, this was the first stage of the internet revolution. The classic features were static web pages, where users could only consume content and not communicate with the content creator. There were no CSS, dynamic links, logging into websites, and commenting/liking/sharing as we know today.
Personal web pages were common, consisting mainly of static pages hosted on ISP-run web servers, or on free web hosting services. It acted as a content delivery network (CDN) that enabled only showcasing of information on websites. It was just a system of interlinked, hypertext documents that could be accessed via the internet. This is exactly what the website owners wanted then too - to establish their online presence, and show the users a catalog or brochure of information that could be available to anyone at any time.
2004 - 2021
Called the Social web or read-write-web, this was (is) the second stage of the internet. More emphasis was given to user accessibility, interaction, ease of use, and participatory culture. This era facilitated anyone and everyone to become content creators, where the content was distributed across various websites.
The rise of Web 2.0 was largely driven by three core layers of innovation: mobile, social and cloud.
It did not modify any technical specification of the web, rather it changed the way Web pages were designed and used. Web2.0 is an enhanced version of Web1.0.
It also introduced major players into the field like Facebook, YouTube, Google, and WordPress, who thrived in a culture where people could share their expressions, opinions, and experiences through a variety of online platforms and tools. E-commerce boomed with giants like Amazon who made optimal use of features such as sorting of information, dynamic content responsive to user input, APIs, etc.
The focus on the end-user catapulted it from a resource that was used only by a select few to every damn person on this earth. The major revolution was caused by content creators, where people could also pursue other creative careers like blogging, podcasting, Social media marketing, art etc. They got live feedback on their work, and expanded their reach like never before.
To understand the disadvantage, we need to know how the Web 2.0 system works. Every time a user searches for something on the internet, they ping a centralized web server, and if everything goes right, they get the appropriate response.
The major flaw? Big companies like Facebook, Google, Tik Tok, YouTube, etc. started collecting information from users and storing them, to feed into their machine learning (ML) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) algorithms, so that they can prolong the stay of users on their platforms. This in turn would provide more and more ad revenue for these companies. And later, they started selling this information, our personal information to more ad companies, which meant more revenue for them!
We’re sure everyone knows about Facebook’s data-sharing deals getting exposed.
Even when there was a WhatsApp boom, and people worldwide could send and receive information from their near and dear ones for free, what no one realized was WhatsApp stores all our information on their server. This is how it works:
The user sends information —> Data gets uploaded to user’s WhatsApp server —> Data gets transferred to the receiver’s WhatsApp server (single tick)—> Receiver downloads the file or receives the information (double tick)
Why’s there a need for 4 copies of information, when 2 is enough?
People also suffered from information overload and lack of curation, where too much unnecessary info was shared with us homo sapiens, leading to humungous amount of wastage of time.
Also as time passed, content creators realized their critical dependency on the social media algorithms of the big players. No one truly has an insight into how these algorithms work, no transparency, or any idea into what type of content works and what doesn’t. Basically, 90% of all content creators today are slaves to the algorithm gods.
In short users became the products in Web 2.0.
2021 - Future
The newest evolution of WWW - Semantic Web or read-write-execute is changing its focus from the front-end user experience to the back-end database. It talks about a utopian scenario (which will hopefully become true in the near future) where no data is owned by anyone entity but is shared by everyone instead.
It focuses on a world where people can exchange money and information with their peers securely, without the need of selling their personal information (or their soul) to the big sharks. How you might ask? Because Web 3.0 applications run on Blockchains and peer-to-peer nodes instead of a single database or a cloud provider as in Web 2.0.
The new web will cause a fundamental disruption and leap forward to open, trustless and permissionless networks:
Open: Built by an open-source software created by an accessible community of developers, executed in full view of the world
Trustless: Participants can interact publicly/privately without requiring a 3rd party
Permission-less: Any user can participate without permission from a governing body
The result? It’s based on the fundamentals of edge computing, decentralized data networks and artificial intelligence.
Imagine a new type of Web where, the algorithms not only understands and accurately interprets what you input, but also everything you convey (voice, text etc.), and the content you consume is more tailored to you than ever before. Users and machines will be able to interact with data, for which algorithms will need to understand data both conceptually and contextually.
Instead of being the product, you become the owner of the content or work you produce. Experts look forward to corporations transforming into decentralized organizations (DAOs), where there will be no need for intense hierarchy as in any company today. Plus, the Web3 world supports anonymous or pseudonymous identities exactly based on your skills or interests, so you can be a part of the internet while still living your normal life.
Another expected feature is the exponential evolution of 3D graphics combined with AI and data to transform the user into a virtual reality where they can interact and sit across the table with anyone from across the world.
The Web 3.0 world is still in an extremely early stage, where the future is not yet cemented. The world as we speak is divided into two about this upcoming new world as with any other technology.
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