Web3 vs. Web2: Which Is Better?
The Internet has evolved significantly since it first appeared as Web1 decades ago. But that’s hardly surprising considering the drastic technological improvements and changing user demands that have emerged in that time.
Web1 enabled users to access content and interact with sites in a simple manner. Next came Web2, which was partially formed by the phenomenal rise of internet-enabled smartphones. Web2 empowered users to not only consume content of a higher quality, but to actually produce their own content too.
And now, Web3 is taking things further: this exciting concept will provide users with the means to consume content, make their own content and data online, and (crucially) to own it.
We’ll take a closer look at Web1, Web2, and Web3 below. Read on to discover more about what we can expect of Web3, including its potential benefits.
The Internet: A Concise History
The Internet has undergone many changes since its inception, but the two primary phases are referred to as Web1 and Web2. Let’s cover the fundamentals of each:
The first iteration of the Internet consisted of static pages made up of HTML (then the Internet’s formatting language) and ran on an infrastructure that was completely decentralized. That meant any user could create applications, host servers, and upload content online without being censored. Web1 allowed users to find content through web browsers.
Users were unable to alter information online during the Web1 phase, and they had far fewer ways to interact with other users than we have today. If you wanted to communicate with someone else online, you were limited to forums and chat messengers only. That’s why users primarily observed during Web1, instead of actively participating.
Web2 is today’s iteration of the Internet (at the time of writing, at least!). It began as a more interactive form of the Internet towards the end of the twentieth century, consisting of forms, databases, and social media server-side processing.
Web2 is centralized (unlike Web1) and essentially monopolized by huge technology businesses from around the world. For countless users going online each day, content creation is the driving force — authors, influencers, filmmakers, and artists can all present their own work to the world with ease.
Thanks to platforms like Tumblr and WordPress, anyone with an internet connection can create and publish unique content. Twitter, Facebook, and other social giants provide people with the means to interact across borders and boundaries. And internet-enabled mobile devices empower users to access almost any type of content at any time, in any place.
This phase of the Internet’s evolution has proven fruitful for Web2-centric businesses, which have cultivated a massive user base and (of course) big profits. Facebook, Google, and other enormous brands have purchased smaller entities in recent years too. As a result, they have built a global network of regular users, each with their own data — which we’ll discuss next.
In the days since Web2 emerged, the biggest brands have continually harnessed users’ data and utilized it in diverse ways. For example, companies can create ads targeted to specific customers and prevent certain platforms from communicating with one another. As a result, users may be inclined to keep investing in a particular brand’s products or services.
However, users have become more aware of critical issues such as data tracking, data ownership, and censorship. It appears that users’ data actually belongs to businesses in the Web2 era — not the users generating that data.
Look at situations related to unfair control of data, in which user accounts have been shut down for unwittingly violating a platform’s guidelines. One major case saw Facebook unable to protect user data, outraging people across the globe when they realized their data had been gathered without permission.
One of the suggested solutions for data-related issues is combining the strengths of Web1 and Web2 — returning to decentralization and facilitating greater user participation. There may still be work to do in finalizing the Web3 concept, the main elements of this new form of the Internet have been defined.
With Web2’s primary issues in mind, it’s easy to see that Web3 is the obvious next step in creating a better, more user-focused version of the Internet.
The power wielded by the biggest Web2 businesses may be reduced with Web3, thanks to such peer-to-peer tech as blockchain, virtual reality, open-source software, and Internet of Things. This decentralization should empower users to reacquire data ownership and content control.
Essential Web3 Features
Here are Web3’s main features:
Decentralization is fundamental to Web3, as it’s intended to address the core Web2 issue (centralization). As well as giving control over data back to the users, Web3 would require brands to pay to access data in the first place.
Furthermore, decentralization would ensure that anyone could access native crypto payments, eliminating the necessity for costly middlemen in the established payment infrastructure of Web2.
Web3 would be based on a network that enables users to interact while managing their trust carefully — they would need only trust the network and nothing else. Cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology would play a big role in this change.
Users would be able to interact freely in Web3 without big brands controlling communication between platforms or preventing participation.
What are the Potential Advantages of Web3?
Here are the possible benefits that Web3 may offer:
More Secure User Data
When big technology companies hold data in centralized databases, it can be vulnerable: cyber criminals could access user data by breaking into one system only. But sensitive data can be secured more effectively with a decentralized infrastructure.
Unparalleled Ownership of Data
Data ownership is a key element of Web3, so users would get to take control of their own data. And they could even make money off it if they wanted to.
Easier Access to True Information
Unfair censorship won’t be an issue when there’s no central power, and it will be more difficult for businesses to adjust or erase content as they see fit. As a result, users may be able to rely on faster, easier access to the truth.
Users will be able to access, produce, and own their content (and their data) with Web3. As Web3 will be built on blockchain tech, it will provide easy access to ecosystems incorporating decentralized finance and other solutions, allowing for financial freedom.
Web3 will keep incorporating post-blockchain technologies, such as augmented reality, artificial intelligence, and virtual reality. All three could introduce new elements to Web3 applications, making for enhanced social interactions online.
One example today is the metaverse. This is a vast 3D space that users can enter and wander as an avatar, enabling users to purchase digital real estate, socialize, enjoy games, and make a living all via an internet connection.
When pitting Web2 against Web3, we can consider the discussion as a new take on the classic centralized-or-decentralized argument. As Web3 is not yet live, it’s hard to declare it superior to Web2. Still, its decentralized infrastructure means that Web3 could solve the data-based issues that have become so common in the Web2 era, and control may finally be returned to the user.