Web3 is an idea for a new generation of the World Wide Web, which is supposed to be based on blockchain technology, thus building on concepts such as (alleged) decentralization and “token-based economy”.
Some journalists have contrasted the ideas with the earlier buzzword Web 2.0, in which they believe data and content are centralized primarily in the hands of a small group of companies, sometimes referred to as “Big Tech.” As of 2023, industry observers noted a waning interest in the technology.
Web 1.0 and Web 2.0 refer to different phases in the history of the World Wide Web, where it evolved through different technologies and formats. The buzzword Web 1.0 roughly refers to the period from 1991 to 2004, when most websites were static web pages and the vast majority of users were consumers rather than producers of content. Web 2.0, on the other hand, is based on the idea of the “web as a platform” and focuses on user-generated content uploaded to social media and network services, blogs and wikis, among others. The beginnings of Web 2.0 are generally dated to 2004 and continue to this day. Critics note that terms such as Web 1.0, Web 2.0 and Web 3.0 (Read, Write and Authentication), which are reminiscent of major software versions, merely generalize normal, consistent developments in the WWW.
Web3 is different from the concept for a semantic web. The term “Web3” was coined in 2014 referring to a “decentralized online ecosystem based on the blockchain.” In 2021, the idea of Web3 gained popularity. Interest surged particularly sharply towards the end of 2021, largely driven by interest from cryptocurrency enthusiasts and investments from high-profile technologists and companies. Some authors referring to the decentralized concept, commonly referred to as “Web3”, have used the term “Web 3.0”, which has caused some confusion between the two concepts. In addition, some visions of Web3 also include ideas about the semantic web.
Image by https://www.civilsdaily.com/news/what-is-web3/
Concrete visions for Web3 vary and the term has been described as “fuzzy”, but they revolve around the idea of decentralization and often involve blockchain technologies, such as various cryptocurrencies and non-fungible tokens (NFTs). Web3 as an idea that would “build financial assets in the form of tokens into the inner workings of almost everything you do online.” Some visions are based on the concept of Decentralized Autonomous Organization (DAOs). Another key concept is decentralized finance (DeFi), where users exchange money without the involvement of banks or governments. A self-determined identity allows users to identify themselves, as with SSH keys, without having to rely on an external party, as would be the case with the OAuth authentication system, for example. Technology scientists have argued that Web3 is likely to run in parallel with Web 2.0 websites, with Web 2.0 websites likely adopting Web3 technologies to keep their services relevant.