For the past few weeks, I have been researching the Web3 phenomenon. I noticed that there seems to be a lot of confusion over the differences between Web3 (the decentralized and blockchain-based Web) and Web 3.0, which is Tim Berners Lee’s vision of a linked or semantic web.
Web3 and Web 3.0 are fundamentally different. Web3 is blockchain-based whereas Web 3.0 is semantic web which means it is a common framework that allows user to reuse and share data across different enterprises, applications, and communities.
To clarify, here’s a quick and simple summary of how they differ in certain aspects.
Before digging more into Web3 and Web 3.0, let’s have a quick idea of the different Web versions.
Tim Berners-Lee was the first to define the Web’s first generation in 1989. It is sometimes referred to by the name Web 1.0. It was all about basic connectivity, hyperlinks and web design. With the introduction of the web browser, regular users could view web pages easily. NCSA Mosaic was the first web browser, and it was released in 1993. Marc Andreessen was the co-creator of NCSA Mosaic, which Netscape later co-founded. This company is the first to use the internet.
Web 1.0 was a pioneering era with many firsts as the world discovered the “information superhighway.” Many technological advancements have occurred over the years since the invention of the internet.
The first generation of the Web was very static and had little to no video content, and the page format didn’t differ from that used on a printed page. With the introduction of Web 2.0, the next generation of web technology, all that changed in 2004.
Web2.0 marked the dawn of a new era in which the Web was viewed as a new medium. It was distinct and independent from all other media, including print and video. Web 2.0 brought new forms of interaction to static websites and only pushed information. Blogs became popular and social networks emerged with MySpace, Friendster and eventually Facebook.
From its earliest days to the Web 2.0 era, a host of technologies have transformed the Web. One of these is Ajax. Google Maps was the first to popularize Ajax, fundamentally changing how the Web works. Ajax allowed Google Maps to zoom in, scroll, and manipulate the map image instead of displaying a static, flat map.
Web 2.0 is also characterized by the use of CSS or Cascading Style sheets. Developers had to create web pages using tables in the early days of the internet, and this made it difficult for them to control the layout. CSS was more popular and powerful in the 2000s, and it allowed for complex layouts that transformed the look of the Web.
The Web 3.0 vision includes a large component called the “semantic web,” which Tim Berners-Lee proposed, who is the inventor of the World Wide Web.
Web 3.0 is the next step in the evolution of the Web from Web 2.0. The semantic Web is a major component of this evolution. The Semantic Web aims to make the Web more machine-readable by making resources easier to access.
What does it mean?
The semantic Web solution or Web 3.0 is to store all your data in one place, the Solid pod. This allows you as a user to control who and what applications have access to their data. A WebID is also added to the pod, allowing you to identify yourself online. The WebID is similar to a crypto wallet, allowing us to sign in to apps using a LinkedIn or Facebook account. However, we don’t lose control of our data.
Web3 is a generic term that describes the vision for a better internet. Web3 is a platform that uses blockchains, cryptocurrency, and NFTs to return power to users in the form of ownership. Web3 is not concerned with creating a similar web of hyperlinked resources but rather solving issues around asset ownership, both digital and physical. The client/server model of the Web has been used over “http/https,” whereas “Web3”, as it is being proposed, uses a decentralized model using blockchain-based protocols.
Web3 is not an evolution of the internet but rather a proposal for an alternative.
Web3 was created by Gavin Wood, co-founder of Ethereum, in 2014. Its core purpose is to combat the centralized power of some Web2 giants such as Amazon and Google.
What does this mean?
The dark side to the Web 2.0 approach is that only a few platforms have access to users’ data and can manipulate it in ways that aren’t always ethical or democratic.
How does it solve this?
Using blockchain technologies, decentralized storage, and self-sovereign identities in a community-driven setting, Web3 will remove Web 2.0’s issues data ownership and return it to users. They can decide who has access to their data and their identity.
In a nutshell, it’s a system that records information on a timeline almost impossible to alter or trick. Each transaction is synchronized across a network of computers.
This is how it works
Users keep all their data and identity in a cryptocurrency wallet such as TrustWallet, Venly, or MetaMask. They can interact with other blockchain apps and decide who can see their data. A crypto wallet login is much like a Facebook account, except that you have full control over all your data.
It grants you ownership
Web3 allows you to take control of your digital assets in a unique way. Let’s say, for example, that you are playing a web 2.0 video game. Your account is tied to any in-game purchase, and these items will be lost if the game creators delete your account. You also lose all the value that you have invested in your in-game items if you quit playing the game.
Web3 allows direct ownership via non-fungible tokens, and your ownership is not transferable by anyone, even the game creators. You can also sell or trade in-game items on the open market to recoup their value if you quit playing.
Decentralized autonomous organizations (DAOs)
Web3 allows you to own your data and can also be a part of a collective that owns the platform using tokens. These tokens act as shares in a company, and DAOs allow you to coordinate the decentralized ownership and make decisions about the future of a platform.
DAOs can be described as smart contracts that are agreed upon and automate decision-making in a decentralized manner over a pool (tokens) of resources. The code performs the voting results by allowing users to vote on how resources are spent.
Many Web3 communities are referred to as DAOs by users. Each community has a different level of automation by code and decentralization.
You would normally create an account on every platform that you use. You might have Twitter, YouTube, and Reddit accounts. You can change your profile picture or display name, which must be done across all accounts. Although social sign-ins can be used in certain cases, censorship poses a problem. These platforms can quickly lock you out from your entire online existence. You will need to give them your personal information to create an account.
Web3 addresses these issues by allowing you to control your digital identity via an Ethereum address or ENS profile. Using an Ethereum address provides a single login across secure, censorship-resistant, and anonymous platforms.
Web 2.0’s payment infrastructure depends on banks and payment processing companies, excluding people who don’t have bank accounts or live in the wrong country. Web3 uses tokens such as ETH for money transfers directly from the browser, and it does not require any trusted third parties.
Web3, decentralized Web, and Web 3.0, the semantic Web, want to offer an alternative web to the current one, which they see as broken.
They have a different focus. The semantic Web, or Web 3.0, focuses on efficiency and intelligence by reusing data and linking it across websites. Web3, or the decentralized Web, focuses on security and empowerment by giving people control over identity and data.
It is also important to note that they use different technology to reach their goals. Web3 is built upon the blockchain, and web 3.0 uses data interchange technology like RDF and SPARQL. OWL and SKOS. This difference has the important consequence that Web3 (blockchain) data is hard to modify (distributed over many places), while Web3.0 data is easy to modify.
Despite their differences in focus, their methods are similar. Both want user data to remain under the control and ownership of the user. This data is stored in a Solid pod for the semantic Web and in a crypto wallet for Web3. The difference is that data is centrally stored in a solid pod. On the contrary, a crypto wallet holds keys to assets that reside decentralized on the blockchain, while a traditional wallet does not.
The core difference between the two is that Web3 has a decentralized structure, and Web3.0 has a semantic or linked structure.
Will this really matter in the end? Truth be told, not much. Both want to build a better internet. But, more importantly, both are still being developed. There is a good chance that the final version of the new internet, which will be more connected, decentralized, secure, and user-centric, will combine these technologies and other approaches (insert any buzzword here: metaverse or quantum computing, AI, etc.).