Everything that doesn't go extinct must evolve to survive. That's true for animals as well as for technology. Think of smartphones: when introduced, they included keyboards that were difficult to manipulate, lousy cameras, and wonky connectivity. Now, smartphones enable wifi hotspots, they've replaced stand-alone cameras, and they include digital assistants who help us find things without tapping on a keyboard.
Back in the late 1990s, people were thrilled to get email addresses. Websites were still few and far between, but the ability to shoot a message to someone on the other side of the world on the same day was remarkable. In 1997, AOL launched instant messenger, which revolutionized online communication.
Web 1.0 Definition
The internet has steadily evolved, its capabilities multiplying behind the scenes. We need to remember that web pages were static and uninteresting, with minimal interactivity. But now those developmental milestones have been defined, and distinct periods of development and evolution have been identified.
The original form of the internet is now called Web 1.0. It's nearly impossible to go back to that time (it's not like watching an old television show) when we logged on to hear the squeal of the dial-up connection. While email was common, the World Wide Web (or WWW, as it was then known) was not the rich source of information it is now. Some reasons why include:
- Individuals and companies couldn't create inexpensive websites as is now easy and common.
- Web browsers were only introduced in 1990. There was no universal search engine like Bing or Google.
- It took time for people to adopt such a major change to the way they did business, so making online purchases was rare.
News and information were found on television, radio, and newspapers rather than online. Paper maps helped us navigate streets and highways.
Web 2.0 Definition
What was web 2.0? In the 1980s a few more than 620,000 computers were in homes in the United States. By the late 1990s, about 40 percent of Americans had internet access at home. This adoption of technology signaled that the internet was here to stay. While using the Internet for education was still in its infancy, subscription services kicked off the potential for widespread retail use of the technology, particularly the interactive aspect of it.
The advent of social media, cloud computing, and more advanced integration of content and technology catapulted the world through rapid changes that marked Web 2.0 and led to Web 3.0 and the semantic web. Here's how it happened:
- Social media introduced individual interaction and content creation to everyday people.
- Mobile internet access reduced barriers for workers, opened up 24/7 e-commerce, and spawned new creative uses of technology.
- Cloud computing makes working at home possible, providing virtual access to tools to create apps and allowing collaboration across the globe.
The integration of smart technology with existing information infrastructure makes the web infinitely more useful. This combination will also further expand its capabilities as artificial intelligence expands.
Web 3.0 Definition
Because nearly everyone carries a powerful computer (smartphone) and technology is advancing rapidly every day, it's challenging to define the end of Web 2.0 and the beginning of a new era. Some believe Web 3.0 is defined by decentralization characteristics, such as using alternative forms of currency like Bitcoin. Others feel the milestone of artificial intelligence marks the dawn of Web 3.0.
What is web 3.0? It's our future: all of the features we're currently aware of and more advanced iterations that will evolve hands-off interactivity and predictive ability. Think of self-driving cars, homes primarily run by integrated AI, and jobs that involve guiding innovative technology to do things humans formerly did.
Web 1.0 vs Web 2.0 vs Web 3.0
To differentiate web 1.0, 2.0 and 3.0 think in terms of significance to everyday life. Web 1.0 was optional; people felt they didn't have to adopt it, nor did many bother to purchase home computers because they could access things at the public library or internet café when necessary. Web 2.0 is the computer in your pocket, the smartphone that you can't leave even for a few hours because it's such an integral part of your life. As for Web 3.0, today a handful of people have volunteered to have computer chips implanted in their bodies – but that's not normal yet. Technology is ubiquitous, it's everywhere and used for everything from medicine to planning the construction of a house.
It will be easier to define the separation between web2 vs web3 as time goes on, but we're already seeing it among early adopters. They use voice assistants like Alexa and Siri, and they have jobs in tech and interactive homes with a busy Internet of Things (IoT) presence.
The Present: Web 3.0 Pros & Cons
Access to critical information is already at our fingertips: medical records, work files, and classes. Easy use of this information will improve as Web 3.0 develops. It's predicted to be more decentralized as time goes on, with fewer gatekeepers and more peer-to-peer development and interaction.
As technology advances, so will cyber security threats like ransomware. With fewer brick-and-mortar targets, attacks on cloud infrastructure and systems will likely increase. Likewise, integrating AI into cyber attacks may tip the scales in favor of criminality as the technology can overcome most man-made barriers.
Similarly, as banking and payments become completely online, crypto scams will only evolve in sophistication. Users must learn new techniques and hire new technology to keep abreast of the most current frauds, like cryptojacking.
Web 3.0 Privacy & Security
Marrying access and security is the task that will make Web 3.0 truly functional for everyone. This may require using the security of blockchain construction with AI capabilities that frequently change the pattern of security features, making them harder to infiltrate.
The evolution of the web has transformed life in the 21st Century in less than a generation. As its power is harnessed by a multitude of people just gaining internet access in underserved countries, opportunities for partnerships and collaboration will continue to explode.