A little over 30 years ago, the first web page was created at CERN, imagined by Sir Tim Berners-Lee, and fellow scientists. They wisely determined that the web should remain an open standard for all to use. Web 2.0 transitioned the internet from sharing information to the age of social media, allowing users to create, share and collaborate without needing web design or technical skills. As the euphoria dies down, we’ve now encountered the flip side of this social revolution, with its power to influence and misinform, and the issues of data privacy. The Cambridge Analytica scandal proved the power of data to literally elect world powers.
Dubbed Web 3.0, the third generation of the web is already making waves, because it promises to return to the initial euphoria of the World Wide Web, and give the power back to users. This means:
- Users have more control over the content
- They manage all internet activities with just one account per user to hop from one platform to another, shop, browse, manage devices etc.
- Innovative use of AR, VR, sensors will elevate their internet experience, ushering in the era of connected things
Why do we need a paradigm shift in the way the internet works
Through massive innovation in mobile, social media, and cloud technologies, Web 2.0 touches the everyday lives of billions of people across the world. The dynamic nature of its pages means that users consume information, communicate better, enjoy interactive experiences, and generate content that can, in turn, inform creators and developers on areas for improvement. However, its fundamental shortcomings cannot be dismissed lightly. Apprehensions around the lack of autonomy users have over personal data, increasing government control, and the predominance of a few, large intermediaries over web content are well-founded.
Web 3.0 aspires to be even more life-altering in expanding the scope of internet applications. Plus, it aims to address these pain points in a comprehensive manner and by becoming more human-centric. Web 3.0 will be underpinned by blockchain technologies that enable, edge computing, and artificial intelligence. Its operations will rely on decentralized and autonomous data networks, public digital ledgers, peer-to-peer communications, cryptocurrency, smart contracts and tokenization. All of this means fundamental and welcome changes for users.
How will Web 3.0 give the power back to users?
So how will Web 3.0 take away the power from data monopolizing corporations and authoritarian, anti-social governments and give it back to users? By re-structuring the transactional nature of the World Wide Web and re-defining the value that users extract.
The biggest differentiators for users are:
- The ability to create and share personalized content
- Data will no longer be owned by a single entity but be a shared resource, developed and owned collectively
A safe and transparent, yet personalized and seamless user experience with Web 3.0
- Users of the web will protect their personal data in non-fungible tokens, which are cryptographic assets on a blockchain. Each token comes with a unique identification code and metadata, indicating that the user owns that particular virtual good or digital asset obtained through cryptocurrencies. Even if the system is breached, the user’s original sensitive data will not be compromised as the tokenized data becomes undecipherable and irreversible while preserving its business utility.
- Content on sites and pages will be chiefly derived from what users provide on various media including online, voice, text sources. Drastically different from the current version, each user will view the same content differently as it will be processed, customized, and presented based on insights and feedback that are unique to them. As the back-end aspects of development will get their due share of attention this time around, visual appeal of the content will not be the only consideration — its ability to cater to user requirements, the relevance of the content, and personalization will be defining factors.
- Applications will use open-source software created by an accessible community of developers in a completely visible, open, and transparent manner.
- Another giant leap forward would be in the way communities are built and operate — from business communities to social communities to private communities. Interoperability is one of the primary goals of Web 3.0, which implies that users can move or extend their personal accounts or avatars from one community to another, seamlessly.
Web 3.0 envisions a new order — a democratic, permissionless system
Blockchain will ensure all transactional data is verified and immutably stored in a public, digitized ledger that is available across the peer-to-peer network. We might even think of the system as being permissionless since anyone, a user or provider should be able to engage in consensus validation within the network without taking explicit permission from a governing body or an intermediary. Such a system is inherently trust-less as no single entity owns or has authority over it, and none of the participants needs to know or trust each other or rely on an intermediary for the system to function. They only need to trust the system itself — this trust is built and distributed between participants through redefining the economic transactions and incentivizing ethical and honest behavior of those complying with network security guidelines, for instance.
Incentivization of operations, transactions, and behavior — in short, everything that makes the system work smoothly — is a desirable outcome of such a network and offered to service, data and content providers, which includes users as well.
The vision for Web 3.0 is to
- Decentralize and cut out the middleman and challenge government-imposed control and the monopoly of large tech corporations such as Google, Facebook, and Twitter
- Make room for smaller, more players to emerge and thrive in the content generation market.
- Restore content control to the user
- Manage data as a collective, shared property
- Incentivize engagement, data contribution and behavior for greater people participation and build a sense of earned ownership and value towards it.
Are we there yet?
We see blockchain being adopted across a widening range of services — from managing individual land records, passports/visas, social security to applications that intersperse multiple entities such as banking. A step towards the new reality, Opera recently brought out a beta version of its Web3 Crypto Browser with a non-custodial wallet to support blockchains.
There will be a greater prevalence of computing resources pushed out to the edge of the network and closer to the source of the data (such as phones, computers, everyday appliances, sensors, and vehicles) in lieu of/addition to centralized, legacy data centers. Incentivization will be a major factor here — for example, a user would be encouraged to barter or trade their personal data on their health, vehicle location, performance reviews on appliances etc. without having to give up ownership rights or privacy and operate independently of an intermediary’s intervention.
While the web’s newest iteration has many gaps to be bridged and its share of sceptics who consider it vaporware, Web 3.0 aspires to bring together the best of both worlds — the human-centric and machine-driven — to democratize the internet. In the attempt to breach technology’s next frontier, it continues to evolve and is more likely to coexist with, rather than replace Web 2.0 in the near future.
Author — This article is written by Ravi Teja Bommireddipalli. Ravi took charge as CEO of Robosoft Technologies in late 2017. Since then, he has been a change agent at Robosoft, leading the transition to a full-service digital transformation company. He has expanded the service offerings and set up systems and talent in place to deliver end-to-end digital solutions for enterprise customers. He believes in forging relationships with customers and being a true partner in solving their business problems through digital solutions.
Ravi Teja is a student of Ontology (the Science of Being), Business and Engineering and believes that the power of empathy, human understanding and technology can solve a large number of societal and business problems. An Electronics Engineer from NIT, Allahabad, an MBA in Technology Management from IIT Bombay, Ravi has 25+ years of experience in technology consulting and implementing digital transformation.
His previous stints included Nihilent Technologies, TCS and Rolta. Ravi was the Chairman of Institute of Management Consultants of India (IMCI), Pune chapter and is an active member of the India CEO forum of IMA and the prestigious Forbes Technology Council — an ‘invitation-only community for world-class CIOs, CTOs, and technology executives’.
About Robosoft Technologies
Robosoft is a full-service digital transformation company with a vision to Simplify Lives. A subsidiary of TechnoPro Holdings, Japan, we offer end-to-end solutions in Product Advisory, Design, Engineering and Analytics. We craft intuitive digital experiences that drive brand preference for enterprises. Our industry experience is diverse including Banking & Financial Services, E-commerce & Retail, Media & Entertainment, Healthcare & Pharma. We have played an active role in the ever-changing world of digital products — from app development to emerging technologies. Visit https://www.robosoftin.com/ to know more.