Has the era of Web 3.0 really arrived?
In recent years, with the development of blockchain technology and its gradual process to maturity, many fields based on blockchain, such as DeFi, Metaverse and NFT, have also made significant progress and development. Among them, Web 3.0, as a technical ecosystem complementary to the development of blockchain, has been widely discussed by the public. Then where did Web 3.0 come from, and has it developed to a mature stage?
We can start analyzing from the Web, that is, the Internet in a broad sense. By analyzing its changes and upgrades, we can understand the foundation and goals of Web 3.0, and neutrally judge whether the so-called Web 3.0 era has come.
Let’s first glance through the development stage of the Internet — Web 1.0 -> Web 2.0 -> Web 3.0 — a process of continuous evolution.
The Birth: Web 1.0, One-way Display of Information
In the 1990s, when the Internet first became popular, users could only passively browse texts, pictures, and simple video contents. Users could only view what the website provided, and there was little interaction between the website and the users.
In the middle and late 1990s, the Internet was once dominated by AltaVista and Netscape before Google and Baidu rose up. At that time, these companies created websites just to promote entity companies, and the websites were “read-only sites” where users could only search for and read information.
That was the era of Web 1.0. The portal website was essentially the same as the promotional flyers sent by the shopping malls without link for ordering. Users could only know what the promotion shew to them but could not directly place an order through the flyer.
Boom: Web 2.0, Information Interaction and Centralization
The next generation of Web1.0 is called “Web2.0” or “read-write” network, which is the Internet ecosystem we are more familiar with today. Users are no longer just visitors, but become the main force of content creation on the Internet platform. Taking Douyin and bilibili as the most representative examples, users create contents, upload them to the website and get a certain amount of rewards from it.
The term “Web 2.0” was first proposed by Dale Dougherty, vice president of O’Reilly Media in 2003. After that, Web 2.0 quickly spread throughout the earth and redefined the operation of marketing and business completely in just ten years.
Celebrities and influencers could upload a picture or a video to help a enterprise double its revenue, or they could write a bad review to make an online store in trouble. The influence of users on the Internet is very different from that in the era of Web 1.0. The era when users get information all fed by websites has completely passed.
In the process, the centralized platform had greatly enriched the network ecosystem of the Web 2.0 era by providing technologies and services. However, with the centralization of the platform and the increasing degree of monopoly on user information and data, the platform’s chasing interests is gradually eroding the information security and the creation values of users. Therefore, the platform has inevitably aroused the dissatisfaction of a majority of users and has to move towards the necessity of updating and upgrading. Thus Web 3.0 comes into being.
Upgrade: Web 3.0, Information Sovereignty and Security
In a nutshell, Web 1.0 is a content-driven enterprise or institution created for the purpose of attracting customers. Web 2.0 takes the Internet further by allowing users to upload and share their contents on websites. Web 3.0 is committed to creating a user-led network ecosystem which is based on blockchain technology and contains a decentralized interchange and circulation of value.
Why Web 3.0 will be proposed and highly hoped? What are its significant advantages over Web 2.0?
For Web2 products, the user stream is their lifeblood. Having a considerable user stream means having wealth. In order to monetize the user stream extremely, most platforms have gradually started to increase product prices abnormally, swindle old users, sell users’ private information and even manipulate public opinions, plunder the creators’ work contents, etc. There are many corresponding typical cases including the scandal of Facebook reselling its users’ private information in 2017, the disparity clauses of Tencent Reading in 2020 and the Dawn Project launched by Tencent in 2021 aiming at plundering the achievements of video.
In addition, the wealth of the user stream brought by users’ time and creativity in the platform should naturally be fed back to users by the platform. However, it is difficult to realize in the era of Web 2.0 and users in Web 2.0 are actually exploited by the platform.
In Web 3.0, users interact with each other to meet their own needs and use blockchain technology to realize the creation, allocation and circulation of value. Compared with the centralized platforms in Web 2.0 , Web 3.0 is committed to building a “decentralized” network ecosystem that is truly owned by users and jointly operated by users.
In order to overturn the current monopoly situation of Internet giants and protect the interests of every Internet user, Web 3.0 will work with the help of the decentralized storage, immutability and information encryption of blockchain technology and assure itself of:
1. A unified identity authentication system
2. Data confirmation and authorization
3. Privacy protection and anti-censorship
4. Decentralized operation
The above four are not only the function of Web 3.0, but also its label. Moreover, they can solve many current problems in the Internet, such as repeatedly accounts registration, service providers’ abusing users’ privacy data, network companies’ profiting from user data, network services’ failing to be provided continuously, etc.
For instance, through the blockchain technology of data rights tokenization and data confirmation and authorization, users have the ownership of the data generated by themselves in Web3 world and others have no rights to use the data without the authorization and confirmation from their owners. At the same time, users may also get a share of the revenue generated by using their data through the token economy of the digital cryptocurrency industry.
The emergence of the token economy and digital assets offers users the opportunity to participate in the operation of Web 3.0 development companies. They can participate in voting and dividends sharing. They are both users and maintainers.
From this perspective, Web 3.0 will bring a transparent and credible Internet economic model.
In addition, Web 3.0 will also give users more sense of safety when using the product in it. In the traditional Internet, users have very little control over their own data. For example, the downloaded copyrighted music would be forced to be deleted due to the expiration of the platform copyright, and the game gear cost a great amount of money is destroyed overnight due to the upgrade of the game developer version. These incidents which made uses helpless are very common in the era of Web 2.0.
In the era of Web 3.0, user data can be stored in a decentralized manner through technologies such as IPFS, Sia, OrbitDB (a decentralized database based on IPFS) and can never be controlled arbitrarily. As long as you have paid for the blockchain smart contracts that a game runs, you can play the entire game even if you are the last player left in it. Moreover, any change of any products can take place only if it is voted through by the community and the developers no longer have the dictatorial powers.
Although Web 3.0 can bring a more transparent, more secure and fairer network environment, it is undeniable that there are still many obstacles and difficulties in the construction of the Web 3.0 world:
The related technologies of Web 3.0 are still in the early stage of development with low efficiency and difficulty in popularization; its business model is not yet mature; its supervision policies are uncertain; the value of digital assets always fluctuates greatly, etc.
Firstly, the task processing of the decentralized network has a low task speed and even those so-called Web-level blockchain projects cannot get rid of its low efficiency.
Secondly, the knowledge users needs to get in Web 3.0 is far more than that in the fields of blockchain, Bitcoin, cryptocurrencies, etc. Certainly, developers can have different tries to design applications no different from traditional apps so that users can not feel the existence of these complex operating mechanisms at all. But this development still have only taken its first step.
The risks about supervision policies and relevant laws mainly include the DAO entity status risk and the token compliance risk. DAO lacks its entity status in laws and its decentralized nature also results in the fact that no individuals are able to act as legal representatives. Hence it is difficult for DAO to directly participate in off-chain activities. The token compliance risk happens in some specific countries, such as China, where the issuance of tokens is not permitted.
However, due to the lack of infrastructures and the uncertainty of technical methods, the current business model of Web3 products is difficult to establish. Along with the large fluctuations in the digital asset market, these facts all remind us that the era of Web 3.0 may still have a long way to go.