The New Web 3.0

There has been a renewed discussion this year in creating what’s being labeled as Web 3.0. – the next generation of how we use the web. First, a little history. Web 1.0 was from 1991 to 2004 when web users were consumers of content, and the web was a series of static websites. Web 2.0 emerged in 2004 as user-created content overtook static content. The big winners in this era have been the huge social media platforms that became some of the biggest companies on the planet.

The original idea behind Web 3.0 was similar to the concept of the semantic web, a concept described in 1999 by web pioneer Tim Berners-Lee. The semantic web was to incorporate software that could understand concepts and semantics and could easily navigate between multiple online platforms to create a personalized web experience for each person. Everybody could use the web in their own way and block out the web they don’t want to experience. Think of the semantic web as each person having an intelligent version of Siri that navigates the web uniquely for each user. The semantic web would simplify people’s lives – restaurant reservations would be made automatically, you’d never run out of pet food, you’d be automatically booked for your annual physical. These are things that web platforms have promised but never delivered.

However, the vision of Web 3.0 being discussed today is something new and different. The concept is now to create a decentralized web based on the following principles:

  • Decentralized, meaning that personal data is not automatically stored in a data center under the control of a third party. Data would be stored at the edge to be shared or kept private by user choice.
  • Open, meaning that web platforms would use software that is open to the world, meaning users would know exactly what is or isn’t being done with their date.
  • Trustless, meaning that two parties don’t need to go through an intermediate trusted party such as a big web site to interact and exchange data. Think of the web as becoming a series of peer-to-peer interactions.
  • Permissionless, meaning that users and suppliers can interact without needing authorization from a third party – think being allowed to use apps that are not pre-approved by Apple.

The concept would be a radical change from the current web. If fully implemented, Web 3.0 would gut the ability of companies like Meta and Google to monetize our personal information unless we choose to give them access to do so. This sort of web would stop many of the practices that make most of us uncomfortable. Apps would no longer be tracking everywhere we drive. Platforms would no longer be automatically mining our data and identifying our friends and family. There would no longer be marketing cookies put onto our devices from every website or app we use.

One needed key to make this work is at least a rudimentary artificial intelligence that automatically and anonymously perform a lot of web functions for people. That’s something that is still a pipedream, with no idea if and when that can ever be fully implemented.

Web 3.0 wouldn’t kill the things that people like about the web today. People would be free to choose to share all of their data and participate in social media platforms the same as today. But a person could also create a private social media group with family with the knowledge that outsiders couldn’t track or monitor what is said within the group. Shopping sites wouldn’t know who you are unless you give them permission or purchase something.

This concept takes us back to what we originally hoped the Web would become. In 2000, nobody imagined the immense power the large web companies have gained through tracking and compiling detailed personal information on each of us. The goal of web 3.0 is to give control of personal data to each person to share or not share as they see fit.

Web 3.0

WWW_balloonWeb 3.0 is the name that has been given to the next generation web. While not everybody agrees with the designations, web 1.0 was the first generation web where everything was flat web sites. With Web 1.0 we browsed website to see what other people wanted us to tell us.

We are now in Web 2.0 where users can interactively create content. Instead of just looking at web sites users now interact and create content on social networks like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. YouTube has so much user generated content that it is one of the biggest traffic generators on the web. And web sites are no longer static and users can post our opinions on a newspaper article or create funny reviews on an Amazon product.

Web 3.0 is expected to go a step further and personalize the web experience. It is expected users will have a personal assistant that will learn their preferences and help them navigate the web. Apple’s Siri is one of the first generation of this type of assistant, but they are expected to soon advance far past Siri.

The biggest improvement of Web 3.0 is that it will understand context, which is lacking in Siri and today’s search engines like Google. But in the future if you tell your assistant that you want to buy a mouse, it will know from the context if you mean the computer device or the little furry animal. The real advantage of the ability to understand context is that search engines will get smarter and will bring you facts. Today the web searches on key words and brings you every web site that contains one of your search words. But in Web 3.0 it is expected that you can ask a question like, “What year was Abraham Lincoln elected?” and get the answer instead of a bunch of web sites about Lincoln, Nebraska.

A personal assistant will also make life easier. For instance, you can tell your assistant that you want to meet a friend for a birthday lunch and also buy them a present. You assistant will talk to your friend’s assistant behind the scene and find a restaurant that is convenient for both of you and that you both will like. And it will suggest presents to you, and once you choose one will buy it for you, have it gift wrapped and delivered to the restaurant. And all of this happens behind the scene with an assistant that understands context.

There will be more to Web 3.0 than just the personal assistant. As more brains get built into the web the way we use it can be smarter as well. As an example, Google just patented something they call geolocation technology. This, and tools like it are going to bring some aspects of artificial intelligence to your personal assistant. For example, with geolocation, advertisers will be able to make offers to you (really to your assistant) that are dependent upon your location. They might offer you a special on a meal, a drink or a purchase that is a few stores in front of you as you walk down the street. But your assistant will learn to filter such requests and will only bring to your attention the ones that are going to be of interest to you.

The personalized web is going to transform the web experience. You will finally be able to use the web to find the facts you want instantly. You will be able to use the web as your social secretary, or as your to-do list or in any other manner of your choosing.